(This entry is part of an ongoing collection of blogs that examine the future of congregations post-COVID19. Each entry forms itself around a question looking for clarity or answers.)
Two cedar trees in my front yard regularly host a large-group gab session for sparrows, also protecting them from predators. The birds seem to derive pleasure from their flitting and chirping. They return to these twitter trees often, talking amongst themselves with what sounds like excitement and energy. Sparrow society may be dependent on these frequent gatherings.
Jesus invited us to “consider the birds” (Matthew 6:26), which prompts these questions: How do congregations already serve as twitter trees for their members and others in the community? How do churches achieve some of their purpose by providing opportunities for pleasurable conversations? For whom are these times especially beneficial?
What do twitter trees look like in churches? Gatherings, obviously. Safe places where loads of people can assemble freely. Events with minimal agendas and informal leadership. Enough time and space for individuals to move among small groups. Brief starting and ending rituals. Healthy refreshments, of course.
Many congregations have not been able to offer twitter tree experiences during COVID. Health concerns have continued to warrant the caution. We’re trying to emerge gradually from this pandemic’s effects on our mental and spiritual well-being. It seems appropriate for us to pay close attention to how we re-institute a full array of twitter-tree moments, just as surely as we reconstitute congregational functions like worship, education or service.
Worship moments—e.g., dialogue sermons—could eventually include brief times of sharing. Soft, comfortable seating might encourage lingering conversations. These delightful times could occur at various places in the church building(s). Meetings could be prefaced by deliberate times of free-range conversation. In warmer weather, walk-and-talk times—“flitting” by another name?—could be part of other outdoor congregational activities.
Although “twitter trees” isn’t all that elegant as a metaphor, could it be useful for your congregation?
Consider the birds….
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