The last time I was at a square dance was sixth grade until last night. The camp we were at had one and everyone participated. It started with simple group circle dances and then began to get more complicated. Ruby loved it. Suzanne loved it. And I loved it until Macy got startled by one of the loud “whoops” when the large group came to the middle. So, Macy and I sat on the sidelines and watched.
As I observed, I noticed the patience and care with which the caller and his helper displayed. The lady actually stood by Ruby and helped her get the moves down. The caller was able to take a group of 100 people and slowly and carefully move them from a large circle to small groups of eight actually doing official square dance stuff. But, he also moved them quickly and was able to make it all happen in a little over an hour.
It gave me some insight into the church. To start with, I don’t think I would ever show up to a square dance, without an invitation from someone I trusted. The feeling of the unknown would be too much. It would be embarrassing to be around so many people who are good at something that I have no idea how to do.
The care and patience the leaders showed to the group came out of a passion and a love for square dancing. You could tell they wanted us to know how to do it because it was so much fun. They weren’t concerned that we had it all perfect, they just wanted us to experience it.
The baby steps we took to get to full blown square dancing were fitting and natural and he explained them well. We saw transition happen. We knew that we were moving from the basics to more advanced stuff and he prodded us along quickly and very intentionally.
Everyone in the circle that night was participating. There were obvious levels of ability and varying displays of talent, but everyone was involved, adding their own unique aspect to the fun.
And Ruby (my five year old) experienced extra care and help as she got one on one instruction in order to make it through.
At the end of the night, people were smiling, laughing and genuinely happy about having been there. They were all talking together about how they could have done this or that and how it took the a while to get to this point or that point. The hour connected them. They were involved. They experienced it together.
I don’t want to be too silly with this analogy but I think it would be good for the church to be like an old fashioned square dance.
God (the caller), through the help of pastors and leaders (helpers / instructors) takes the individuals who are there through baby steps (basic instruction) so that they are able to live lives in community (group of eight), sharing the gospel message (do-sa-do-ing) with others in their worlds. They do this all through their journey (promenading) through life, not just waiting for one specific right time. The group becomes the hands and feet of Jesus, serving (bowing to your partner) others selflessly. The serving becomes attractive, addictive and fun (coming to the middle). And before you know it, people have invited others to join in the fun (weaving the ring) and lives are changed.