Once upon a time, the word “none” simply meant “not a one.” Nothing. Nil. Nada. Zilch. But in recent years, the word has become a descriptive moniker for people who choose not to identify with organizations, institutions, even general categories. Notoriously, people who prefer to be sheltered under the umbrella of “Nones” claim no affiliation with religious bodies such as churches.
But let me quickly insert that as a pastor I am not interested in “churching” anyone! I cringe at the label of “unchurched” that is frequently tossed around these days. So when that designation surfaced in a article on the editorial page of the Warren Times Observer, it snagged my attention. And the article, “Finding people to fill empty spaces” by Froma Harrop, turns out, is a delightful read. If you missed it in our local paper, here it is from another: https://www.sunjournal.com/2019/06/13/froma-harrop-finding-people-to-fill-empty-spaces/
Ms. Harrop mentions a new undertaking in Burlingame, California called “Nuns and Nones.” In a nutshell, it’s single people – some with very strong ties to a religious body and some with nary a one – living together and serving the community together. She concludes, “These solutions involve small numbers, but that may be their virtue. They depend more on committed communities than big government programs. They benefit all parties.”
Many of you remember the “once upon a time” of pews brimming with worshippers, classrooms buzzing with young disciples, and meeting spaces filled with servants… all the markers of a vibrant church in bygone days. But as Ms. Harrop suggests, more does not necessarily mean mightier! Remember Jesus’ words? “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.” [Matthew 18:20] Could it be that we who are today’s worshippers, disciples, and servants will discover new and creative ways that will shore up the commitment within our community and be of benefit to all? Could it be that one day, people will remember these times as the “once upon a time” when a new undertaking breathed new life among us?