The ethic of inefficiency.

So in my world, there’s pretty much nothing better than a group of people who are naturally accepting and hospitable, talk about interesting, challenging, and world-changing things with intelligence, openmindedness, humor, and honesty, and who try to give me food everytime I turn around.  In fact, I think it’s called church.  Funny, but this doesn’t look a whole lot like church to me.  I’m visiting Good Works in southeastern Ohio.  It’s an odd place, hard to categorize, which is a good thing.  I think their mission statement says it best: Good Works exists to connect people from all walks of life with the poor so that the kingdom of God can be experienced.   Started the year I was born, 1981, it’s an amazing, organic place.  The center of every piece of this ministry is about relationships.  Between people who have and people who have-not.  Between the spiritually mature and the seeking.  Seniors and children, families, singles, rural and urban.  Keith, Good Works’ founder, told me over tea this afternoon that he doesn’t think that God is very interested in getting things done, but rather more interested in people.  That seems like the heart of Good Works.  Hanging out with some of the staff and volunteers today, folks who reside and work here on the grounds, I keep hearing, in the way they speak to one another and their conversation topics, a deep sense of just enjoying this place and each other.  The work is hard – there are lots of people to love and lots of ideas to attempt.  But there’s also a simple joy of just being in a space where there’s an opportunity to try things that might not work, maybe fail, maybe be a part of God doing something amazing, to talk with people just for the sake of knowing them and sharing some food or a hug or some love or a prayer or a task.  That mission, connecting people of all kinds with the poor so the kingdom is known, that’s not just to “help” poor people… it’s to enrich everyone, no matter who they are in connection with this community.  We all need to experience the kingdom.  Jesus seems to have figured out that it’s through being around people who are poor that we, those who aren’t poor, get to know God better.  People living in poverty have much to share with and teach us.  And we, too, have something to offer out of our own abundance.  But it’s dignity in both directions, a growing through mutuality.  So that the kingdom of God can “be experienced…” by everyone.  It’s as though when people who are poor and people who are not sit next to one another and really listen, build lasting relationships, learn to know one another without the intention of simply fixing one another, the space in between is where the Spirit lives.

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1 Comment »

  1. James Bingman Said:

    I found the same concept “just being with people….learning to know one another…the space bewteen us is where the Spirit lives.” to be so true in Haiti as well. It’s amazing how we believe that we are so different from other people because of our haves and have nots, when if you truely learn to be in community with other people no matter what external differences you percieve, we are truely the same. One thing I found in Haiti was that people are genuinely good. Call me an optimist, but you know me, that I try to find good in everyone/thing, but I really think it to be true in Haiti. Even when the Haitians were in their most desparate hour of need, they would rather give of the little they did have, than to receive. Not only that, but I am beginning to think the having “stuff” only contributes to wanting more stuff and corrupts the spirit of people by putting the focus of our lives on our stuff and not in the people we share this small space with. Anyway, my ramblings may not make sense, but to sum up my thoughts (which are going ten times faster than I can write) I understand what you are blogging about and appreciate your thoughts.


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