First Third Conversations

Communities of Practice

By Dr. Nancy Going, Director of the CYF Distributed Learning Program at Luther Seminary

I love change. Most people don't, but I do. Get this, I even love to move. The actual physical process of moving itself. I know, pretty crazy, right? Of course, I get overwhelmed at some point too, but I love the pure change of picking up myself and my stuff and bringing it to a new place and new circumstances.

And yet, I also hear so many of my ministry friends deeply struggling with change. Whether we like it or not, we are all in the midst of such creative chaos right now in both the church and the world that it is sometimes very hard to wrap my head around it, much less figure out what the Spirit is up to and follow God into it. And I love change.

At our most recent FirstThird Dialogue, we looked closely at the effect camp has often had for the process of Faith Formation, Mike King of YouthFront had us explore camps as Communities of Practice. Focused places in but away from our world where young people can LIVE community, and a language of faith, and practice being believers.

It occurred to me, that communities of practice are more needed now than ever before. And as we repeated throughout our two days together at the dialogue, that there is much that the local church can and must learn from the spiritual practices of camps. Not about games, or songs but rather about prayer and a keeping of the hours of the day. That happens at camps--at meals, at the lake, at cabins. Mike reported about how in the last several years, his camp has built 60 places for prayer. The DAILY practicing the faith together as a community allows encourages abiding. It is a learned abiding in the time of God and it is an essential for the chaos of change. Abiding allows one to walking through all that is swirling around you. It’s no wonder that our once a week gatherings at church seem just not enough in comparison to the full life of faith lived at camp for so many young people. Becoming fully functional communities of practice will make the creative chaos of the Spirit's action in our world something to celebrate, and not fear. Whether or not you like change!

What is your church doing to become a 7 day a week community of practice for people of all ages?

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Nancy Going is a life-long youth minister, who loves Jesus, other people learning to love Jesus, her husband Art Going, and the two new families that are her kids and grandkids. 

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