Did you ever consider that God might want you to start a new community in a parking lot?

by tom sine —

Did you ever consider that God might want you to start a new community in a parking lot?  I read an intriguing book this week , Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules, and 365 Days of Home Grown Adventure in Pursuit of Christian Living by Craig L. Goodwin.

He and his wife Nancy are both Presbyterian pastors at Millwood Presbyterian Church near Spokane Washington and they have two pre-teen daughters, Noel and Lily.   A Christmas of hyperconsumption motivated them to embark on a year-long adventure…following four rules:

1.  buy goods from local farmers and producers;

2. buy only used products from neighbors, craiglists or thrift stores;

3. grow as much of their own food as possible;

4. make as much as possible of what they use and give as gifts.

You will need to get a hold of the book to read for yourself how the Goodwin family fared in this remarkable year long adventure.  But allow me to share one insight that came into focus for me.

One of the unexpected catalysts for this family’s year of plenty was the launching of the Millwood Farmers Market in the church parking lot.  This farmers market is much more than a place to simply buy produce.  In a way that seems to have surprised the author it restored connections in Millwood between those who grow food and those who consume  it and provided a place that simply re-connected neighbors.

An elderly woman approached Craig and said,  “I appreciate all the things your church does for the community.  I come to the market every week when I can.  I love the way it brings us together.”

Craig Goodwin also reminds the reader of some of the characteristics of that first Christian community.  “According to Luke …”All believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold properties and possessions to give to anyone who had a need.  Every day they continued together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” Acts 2: 44-47.

Craig Goodwin reflects,  “As a family we had stumbled into unexpectedly holy rhythms of attending to everyday life.  Our daily rituals and chores were transformed into a different kind of spiritual formation.  We had a sense of experiencing aspects of the kingdom of God and to our surprise it looked like a farmers market.”  Really a rediscovery of community as it was intended to be.

In times like these of growing global volatility and economic uncertainty does it make sense to you to create local sustainable communities that reconnect us to both God’s good creation and to neighbors as a deliberate expression of our faith as the Year of Plenty proposes?

I would love to hear your response to this question.