Moving Out

The temptation to leave well enough alone, to focus on what I’m already doing can be overwhelming at times.  I am thankful for an innate restlessness that doesn’t allow me to succumb to that temptation for very long, though.

As the new year begins I consider new ways of being out and about in community, meeting new people in new situations.  It is counter-intuitive to my introverted nature.  It becomes increasingly difficult as I get older, something I suspect is true for the majority of people.  Half our lives are spent in expanding our circle of acquaintances and friends.  Changing school grades and locations and emphases is a big part of it.  Then the expansion of contacts through work and career.  Eventually though, we slow down.  We finish school and work stabilizes around a fairly consistent group of people.  Our family contacts through marriage, children, then their marriages and children stabilizes.  We end up with a network of people we know that we’re happy with, and the need to push beyond that fades.

Congregations rise and fall with this cycle as well, I think.  In a multigenerational congregation the effect is a steadiness.  Those whose social circles are decreasing with age and mortality are offset by younger generations in the bustle and hustle of meeting new people.  For a congregation that lacks a balanced multi-generational mix, this may not be the case.  I increasingly suspect that constant haranguing and admonitions to older congregants about bringing people to church ignores this tendency towards smaller and smaller social circles.

What I can try to do is model for others what I hope for myself – to continue to stretch myself in terms of meeting new people.  Towards that end, I volunteered this week to help out with the international film festival our community has been hosting for 30 years now.  In less than a week I’ve made contact with several new people and anticipate meeting a dozen or so more before it’s all over.  I have no idea what will happen with those contacts, but I need to be praying for them now, that the Holy Spirit would bless and guide them, as I pray He does all my relationships.

How do you push yourself beyond your comfort levels?  Are you glad when you do it?


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