I like to start fires. Don’t worry; i don’t mean in the way that keeps fire fighters busy. Rather in way that gathers people around to stay warm, share stories and roast marshmallows. Maybe I should have said that I like to “build” fires. Good times. I was recently staying in Tahoe and once again had the privilege of building a fire in a familiar fire place. This is one of those giant inserts that keeps the fire inside, but also has a fan to blow the heat out. It’s pretty nice.
Because I wanted the thing to get hot fast, I overloaded it with fuel. I put more paper, kindling and small wood than a I really needed, but it worked well for my family’s comfort. After just a few minutes, I had that thing raging so big that when I opened the doors to the insert I could barely stand next to it.
Then I was struck by something that I’ve known for years both in building fires and doing ministry. If you want to get fire going, you need a white hot center. When building fires this is simple. Either you get your coals hot or you struggle to keep the thing going. I was struck in that moment by the Holy Spirit’s reminder to me that this is true for our spiritual communities as well. If we want fire, we need a blazing hot core.
I confess my inadequacies as a community builder. As is true for many things, there are those who are naturally good at this and those who have to work at it. I am one of those who has to work. However, I do know how to start a good fire and I think that God is showing me how those things are similar. The communities that we lead may already be warmed up or maybe we’ve found ourselves coming in cold with the whole thing. Either way, we can envision what happens when the “fire” burns hot enough: anything that goes in burns. That’s the community that we’d hope to be a part of and I’m learning to (trying to) build; one that is burning so hot that when someone comes in, they catch fire for Christ and his kingdom.