|Sent on:||Friday, March 16, 2012 2:39 PM|
It was just a little over a month ago that I received an email from Meetup administration informing me that in 8 days the Phoenix Christian Connecting Point would be closed and all members lost because there was no coordinator for the group. It was bittersweet for me, because I remember that when I had first joined the group I had been excited to have an opportunity at meeting other people who are passionate about their relationship with Christ, but a week after joining I realized that there was no activity around scheduling meetups, nor was there general leadership who communicated with members. It was sad to me at the time that one of the largest Christian meetup groups in the Phoenix area, if not the largest, was just going to be shuttered up. After receiving the first email of the group's impending demise, I received subsequent emails every two days telling me that the Connecting Point would be removed unless a new leader stepped up. Being currently in my 2nd year of medical school made it near impossible for me to take such a responsibility, and so I would ignore the emails while hoping someone else would come forward and redesign the group. I had talked to Christian friends about the possibility of taking charge of the group, and they unanimously agreed with my conclusion that I was much too busy to even consider it. The last email I remember receiving from meetup stated something like "Your group will be closed in 24 hours, and all members removed, unless someone takes over as group administrator." I was in the middle of midterms, slightly annoyed by all the meetup emails I was receiving, and so deleted it immediately out of my inbox, assuming that it would be the last time I ever heard about the group.
That Wednesday night I pulled an all nighter for a Pathology test the next day, and at 8:30am Thursday morning when I finished the test I was a) exhausted and b) too wired and excited about finishing the test to notice the aforementioned exhaustion. When I came home later that afternoon, and started to settle down with my textbooks, a thought crossed my mind- "it has been over 24 hours since the last email was sent out, so the Connecting Point is officially gone". Out of a sense of curiosity I went to check the meetup website expecting to see a dead link for the group, but was surprised to see that it had not been taken down yet. I'm not sure if it was an absolute lack of sleep, or the comfort in knowing that I could not mess up the group much worse than if it did not exist at all, but at that moment I made the decision to pay the $6 to adopt the group. Later that night after a quick nap, and in a clearer mindset, I remember thinking to myself..."that was definitely not a smart choice. Maybe taking over the group has unecessarily prolonged the inevitable."
Before stepping into a leadership position, I had already known that PCCP was one of the larger Phoenix Christian meetup groups in the valley with over 180 members, and I was in for a surprise when I looked at the pending membership list which consisted of over 60 members waiting for approval. In a bout of OCD energy I revamped the entire group by changing the mission statement; removing old sponsors, old meetups, and old links; as well as changing the pictures and background for the group's design. But even with over 250 members and a new look, I did not have the time to plan new group events and I have not been sure how to recruit others with ideas on to help bring the believers in the group together.
PCCP is a unique group in that it consists of many different age groups, political affiliations, and doctrinal perspectives. As a nation we are entering a time of political polarization, and we will soon be inundated with messages from politicians, pastors, and friends about what a real Christian believes, how a real Christian votes, and the approach that Christians should take towards the secular world. My hope for PCCP is that this can be a place where we can come together to rejoice in the gospel message and help spread Jesus' love, rather than focus on the divisions in the wide ranging body of the Church. There are many dissimilarities between progressive, evangelical, conservative, Anabaptist, post-modern, and traditional Christians, but John 13:35 says 'By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We all have plenty of time in our daily lives to debate salvational theory and political theological responsibilities, but my wish would be that this group can be focused on kingdom values of love and compassion.
If anyone resonates with the message that I've proposed, feel free to either step up as co-leaders or propose meetups as the opportunities arise. Though I love medical school, it does not offer me much free time (if at all), but I am still willing to meet people for coffee if they would like to talk through ideas they have for the group, or even just for good Christian fellowship. It is hard for me to initiate events, but I definitely am ready to work out logistics for group rates at concerts and sports, or set up volunteer contacts (such as at Phoenix Rescue Mission). We could have age specific meetings, an example would be that there are plenty of young adult groups around the valley that we could organize around (e.g. PhoenixOne). I do have to face that it is possible the group's activity stopped because it is too hard to bring such a diverse group of Christians together successfully unless it is for a specific and narrow purpose (such as a Christian Medical group). If there are like-minded people reading this, feel free to message me. I'm ready to try to help you flesh out your vision for this community.
To those who sent me emails recently, I'm sorry for the delayed response. I had received no emails until 2 weeks ago, and after receiving a handful over the last few days I decided to address the group collectively before responding individually. In answer to a few of your concerns I will say that since there are no currently scheduled meetups, there is also no information on locations, frequency, or demographics of our events. I apologize about the current lack of information, but with any luck we will know those details soon enough.
Lastly, Hebrews 10:24-25 says "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Whether in this group, or in the wider church, I encourage you to turn your heart towards Christ and other believers in a way that helps us extend ourselves to those in the world who are most vulnerable, oppressed, and in need of help. I pray that we can be brought closer to the Father and Jesus in ways that bless those around us.