Ever been a part of a flash mob? Ever watched a flash mob on youtube? Take a look at this flash mob video that was a hot item over Christmas. The flash mob creates the unexpected convergence of a diverse group of people for a unified activity. People receive instructions by text, email, and chat rooms. Sometimes they practice choreography alone or in a small group of friends in preparation for the big event. And then, it happens. To the unsuspecting crowd in a mall, train station, park or street, a single person begins to sing or dance. Then, as others join the planned spontaneity, a crowd transforms into a community on mission. But it is a fleeting sense. For an hour or maybe the whole day, the flash mob participant has been a part of something larger. They were–if for only a few minutes–a member of a community.
Does this description sound like something that happens at your church? Think about it.
There are lessons to be learned from the flash mob, perhaps of most importance is that we are participatory by nature and by preference. Most flash mobs today have moved from the place of true spontaneity to their use as a promotional gimmick. But at their heart, they are an activity for people to find a place to belong and contribute.
People want to be a part of a community on mission. Looking into your church’s mission field, your community, it will take some work but it is critical that we help believers find their way into the lives of the people. And, we need to help those outside the faith to find their way into relationships with believers. Relationships matter. We know that to be true.
Each church must determine in what environment we will encourage relationships. The planned spontaneity of the flash mob is fun but can only go so far in the church’s mission. Planned events are necessary for the church but should not be perceived as the end-result of relationship building and mission engagement. Rather, they need to be the beginning of relationships and mission launch.
Dinners, parties, concerts, and conferences at the church campus or in your home can help start relationships but are not substitutes for them. Planning ministry days at the neighborhood school and working at the local soup kitchen needs to be done by the church. But the event is not the end product. The church must not be overly committed to the flash mob mentality of “the event”. We should see the crowd gathered for an event as starting place to move people toward Christ. For the church, our flash mobs of gathering for worship and ministry should whet the appetite to know more about the Christ we serve.