One of my favorite places in Sioux Falls is Josiah’s Coffeehouse & Café. I’m sitting here on my Sabbath day, spending time with the Lord by reading and writing over a great breakfast (eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, to be exact).
In the midst of my sabbath rhythm in this café, I can’t help but pause and listen to the bustling activity and murmuring of conversations in this physical space. There is so much spiritual friendship going on right now, whether people realize it or not. My heart just ignites at the thought of people connecting and actually spending time together.
I see a father hanging out with his two little girls outside; a couple picking off each other’s plates, sharing their breakfast; employees discussing future goals for their company; police officers soaking in a relaxed morning in community before going on patrol; friends catching up after having been away for far too long. These people gathered in this café are having one of their deepest physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs met – being together in community – without even realizing it.
These people are literally living healthier lives shooting the breeze with significant friends than they could imagine. Shooting the breeze doesn’t even get a forethought as a crucial activity that generates success and well-being in one’s life. This is because shooting the breeze is the exact opposite of urgent activities, productive, getting things done, and workaholism. Yet science would deem otherwise.
Dr. Henry Cloud, a psychologist and prolific author, writes in his book, The Power of the Other, that the quality of our most significant relationships determine:
- How long we live
- Whether we reach our goals or not
- How much money we make
- How well our kids do in school
- How much we trust people
- How we cope with stress and failure
- What kind of mood we’re in
- How much physical pain we experience
- How and what we think.
These qualities and benefits are things we believe we ultimately have control over as long as we work hard enough to achieve them. But that’s only true on a minimal extent. The healthier our relationships are, and the more time we spend with those significant friends, play a much more powerful role in how we simply function than we could ever have imagined.
There is a clear need to shoot the breeze.
Far too many people are missing out on this. Far too many will never experience the joy and satisfaction and pure necessity of openly shooting the breeze with a good friend over coffee. Such a simple act resonates with every part of what it means to be human.
This is the dream: That the American Church will see community development as an essential need that has to be addressed in our cities and families and faith communities and work places. Too often, community development is focused just on being built within the church walls through service teams and life group models. These things are needed, of course, especially the larger a church gets.
But could community development go even further than a programmatized means that too many churches solely rely on?
There has to be a greater recognition of everyone’s hardwiring for community. When we actively acknowledge our God-given design for community, people may actually begin to push beyond themselves and invite others into the greatest friend group of eternity:
The Church. God’s Family.