One of the four goals of the YAV program is Intentional Christian Community. When I picture what Intentional Christian Community is going to be like in Denver, I picture a covenant with expectations clearly written out. I picture time spent together cooking and eating, and I picture days spent in service or study, discussions about whatever is relevant to serving God, the injustice we may not experience but know is there, and how we feel and see God in our daily lives. As much as I am trying not to have any expectations for this upcoming year, this is what I picture.
I spent the past two weeks at my favorite place in the entire world, Massanetta Springs. Massanetta is home to a camp and conference center that operates out of a historic hotel and is home to the Massanetta Middle School Conference, the site of the first time I felt God working in me and through me as a middle school student and the first time I felt called to serve God as an enabler to the middle school conference while I was in high school. Massanetta is the place where I feel like I am my best self.
This time at Massanetta, my role was Enabler Coordinator, meaning I played mom to 22 high school students for two weeks in one house with only three showers. The enablers were a group of talented, capable young leaders made up, without a doubt, of the future leaders of our denomination. When I served as an enabler in high school it was my first introduction to intentional community. This time around not much was different except I was looking at everything through the eyes of a pseudo-adult. We had a covenant, we spent time eating together, we worked hard every day putting on a conference so that middlers could experience God, and we spent time together in fellowship and devotion.
And as perfectly as our days fit my idea of intentional community, intentional community does not take exhaustion into account or how easy it is to forget about respect when that exhaustion takes over. There were moments when small conflicts led to hysterical tears, where different priorities of community members led to anger and hurt feelings, and a lot of moments where the goal of sharing God with middlers was forgotten in lieu of traditions. A covenant does not bring much comfort when every surface is covered in Cheerwine and you’re tripping over multiple pairs of shoes in your quest to find a few hours of sleep.
So even though I have not officially lived the YAV version of intentional, Christian community, I think my time at Massanetta was a great introduction to the fact that even with the best intentions, intentions to live in community like Christ, we are all still human and fall short. Intentional community takes work. The real point of intentional community is to not to give up, not to stop talking to the people you live with, not to just survive the living situation until it’s over, but to keep going, to keep being better and keep spending time with and getting to know the people in your community so that the goal you all share can be reached.