Last night I was part of a simple but profound encounter. Eight people, some of them Christian, gathered round a meal to discuss faith, doubt and the possibility, or otherwise, of God. “Crash” is the brainchild of my friend Joe who says,
“It is called ‘Crash’ because so often in life two opposing views come crashing together and we try to salvage answers from among the wreckage. Crash seeks to be different and looks to enable different views to come together in such a way that enriches us all rather than tearing us apart.”
Wisely, Joe established a few simple rules to ensure the playing field was reasonably level. Everyone is encouraged to get involved in the discussion and conversations. No-one is allowed to dominate the evening and conversations. And because the evening encourages various belief systems and world views to engage with each other there should be no aggression.
After a short introductory talk around the subject of the incarnation and the point of Christ and Christmas to provide fuel for potential discussion, dinner was served and conversation began. Predictably, to start with we chatted about all sorts of things. But quite soon conversation gravitated towards our respective beliefs and doubts in a natural flow of speaking and listening that included everyone and judged no one. Our discussions around the meal permitted a degree of honesty and reality about faith and doubt that I have not experienced in any other context. It was painful to hear how damaging some people in churches have been to some of those present. Is it any wonder that people give up on God when God’s people behave like pharisees? But there was also a confident hope expressed in Christ in a way that was confessional and gentle, respecting the beliefs and feelings of all in keeping with Joe’s vision for the evening.
In some ways, Crash seems pretty obvious. There may well be similar things happening all over the country. It left me wondering. There are lots of people who, faithwise, live in something of a cloud of unknowing. I wonder where they go to discuss their ideas, to hear stories of the Christian life, to chat about life’s big issues without feeling, rightly or wrongly, ‘evangelised’? Where do people go who have been hurt by church to stay connected to some expression of Christian community?
‘Crash’ is simple and, as an unpressured place to talk about eternal matters, very effective.
Big thanks to Joe & Sarah for hosting and to everyone else who took part.
We’ll probably do it again in January.