From Pastor Gary (9.4.17)
Although I’ve become numbed to the seemingly permanent craziness of the Bay Area housing market, I read something the other day that shocked me. According to this article, 83% of Bay Area renters are planning on leaving the region for good. If this is even remotely true, what would an imminent mass exodus mean for our church? Should we begin scheduling monthly good-bye parties?
I hope not, because one of the best things about CWOW is its commitment to long-term community. So many of us have bought houses or locked in low rents in Berkeley so we could raise our kids together, worship together, and make a collective impact on our neighborhoods. Yet this old model of community simply doesn’t work anymore for those of us who can’t afford $1 million for a fixer-upper. So how can we preserve our commitment to spiritual community and mission in our new, shocking reality? Here are three suggestions:
- For those of us deeply rooted in Berkeley–let’s consider thinking of ourselves as “apostles.” In biblical times, “apostle” meant “one who is sent,” like the Apostle Paul, who was constantly in motion planting churches and raising money for the poor. His life was a kaleidoscope of new faces and new relationships, held together by his prayers and letters (some of which became the New Testament). Thanks to our housing market, we don’t even need to go anywhere to experience the same dynamism of constantly changing community life. If we embrace the churn, we can build seeds of deep community just like Paul did–community that may soon bear fruit all over the country and even the world!
- For those of us who wonder whether our days in the Bay are numbered–don’t let that uncertainty keep you from investing in community here. For almost 20 years, I’ve moved every three years, so I know the challenge of establishing relationships as the new guy. But as one of my old pastors used to say, “Be where you are.” Through Life Groups, CWOW aims to be a space where the deep community established here is quickly accessible to those in town for school or a short-lived job. A transient season of life doesn’t have to be a shallow one!
- Finally, let’s consider fighting gentrification by pooling our resources to buy property for lower-income housing or communal living space for CWOW members. Jodi and I are part of an LLC of ten friends/investors (including two CWOW friends) who bought a 23-unit apartment complex which we’ve rented to immigrants without documentation and refugees from around the world. Could we ever try something similar in the East Bay?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to talk more about any of these issues.