Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                               March 30, 2009
Andy's Porch
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Dear ,
rocking_chair_bwWhen I was in high school I had a friend who lived just across the street named Neil. Neil and I would talk for hours out on my curb, most often on hot summer nights. We'd talk about how relationships worked, about how we'd parent, about God, about feelings towards those who had hurt us, about single parents, just about anything.
To this day, some of my most substantive conversations were with Neil. And, get this, Neil wasn't a believer. He was just a good guy, made in the image of God...and deep as can be.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: Church often starts on the porch (porch: A covered platform, usually having a separate roof, at an entrance to a house)
Andy's Porch
Excerpted from The Search to Belong by Joseph R. Myers 
joeWhen I think of trying to build healthy from porch experiences I look to Andy for help. The Andy Griffith Show supplied some of the best examples of healthy median space. On Andy's front porch there was peaceful relaxation after a meal prepared by Aunt Bea. There were times filled with playing the guitar and singing. There were times for courting Helen. And sometimes there were strong words of discipline for Opie. We can build all of these into the front porches we create.
Front porches provide opportunities for fun and relaxation, worship and discipline. These are the spaces where people come to find out what our family is about. These are the spaces where individuals come to grow and develop relationships. These are the spaces people come for a good date and expect to court and be courted. In our time front porches provide a key to helping individuals with their search for healthy community and belonging (2003:133).
My Reflections 
aunt_beaWho has a porch nowadays? Not too many. I suppose my house, built in 2001, has the semblance of one. It's like it is, but it isn't. It sort of reminds me of an appendix; it's there, but I'm not really sure what purpose it serves, if any. Needless to say, things have changed since the days of Mayberry and porches are on the verge of extinction.
In 1994-95 Aimee and I lived in the Philippines. Much of the experience was hard and we longed to come home. Whereas I could get ten things done in a day in the States, I could only get three things done in the village where I lived (I used to be big on "productivity"). What's more, we had no television, no car, and no electricity much of the time. In general, I'd go to sleep by the sun and get up by it. Oddly, the house Aimee and I rented had a porch upstairs...and we lived on the ocean (keep in mind this is a majority world country). Most days, I'd wake up frustrated at life. I'd go out on the porch and talk to the Lord and read. It was quiet, almost surreal. I'd watch as the sun would rise over the still water and as fishermen dropped their nets for the morning's catch.
I didn't know how good I had it.
Over a decade later I am okay, and I am happy, but I must admit, the grind of life has taken its toll...even though in 2001 I made a conscious choice to never be "busy" again. And it's weird, I really do try not to be busy, but it's like the U.S. has a "spirit" of busyness on it. Ever felt this feeling? It's like I just can't get ahead. If I want to eat, if I want my kids to eat, if I want to live in a house, I must do what it takes to have those things. It's maddening at times. And I'm sure it is for my unbelieving neighbors, too.
That's why it's important to revive porches. I'm often tired. My neighbors are often tired. I and they just want to rest, to talk, to watch the sun set. But, in most instances, it's just not happening - it's not happening because I often rely more on myself to make life happen than God. So I work and work and work. And by doing so, I disintegrate the porches in my life. No porches hurts me. No porches robs others of the cool waters of conversation I have to offer - waters that often lead to meaningful conversations about God.
Here's to Aunt Bea, Mayberry, porches, iced tea, and sunsets. Here's to trusting in God as we rest. And here's to the disciples that will be made as a result.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table