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Revelations: Finding godly community on Twitter

By by jennifer preyss
Sept. 17, 2010 at 4:17 a.m.


Allow me to introduce myself; I'm flawed, nice to meet you. Everyone has flaws, and I'm no exception. But many of us tend to overlook a great number of them in exchange for blissful ignorance, especially when it comes to our spiritual life. I once did. I miss those days.

Fortunately for the whole of humanity, I now make an effort to embrace my imperfections, and inch my way ever closer to self-actualization - this is done through generous amounts of prayer and Christian-founded accountability.

My sister Alex leads the charge on the last point. She believes for people to be in continuous growth with the Lord, we need healthy amounts of accountability from friends and family. You know, a few bold personalities who are capable of walking up to our high horses and kindly, yet forcefully, shoving us down when needed. I'm probably due for a shove.

Those who know my sister, know her as peacekeeper. She's candidly gracious and selfless, and fights to know Jesus as her husband, friend, and Lord. Her spirit is kind; her loyalty, endless. Simply stated, I've never known another person to love in the capacity she does. And for her, love and accountability go hand in hand.

There's no motivation for her goodness, and that always makes me think, "This is what it must have been like to hang out with Jesus in his day."

There were no selfish motivations, or stipulations to Jesus' love. He just did, because it was who he was. That's Alex.

I say all this because with her, it's easier for me to accept when she needs to shove me off the horse. Not easy, just easier.

So, when I moved to Texas last month, it wasn't surprising that she immediately began fussing at me to find Christian community. Because in community, we find accountability, she says.

But, where she thrives in Christian community and can build a foundation quickly, it's a slower process for me. For starters, I have a wonderfully diverse group of friends, so I'm less motivated to find new friends when I regularly pour into the group I have.

Secondly, I don't feel lonely that often and I'm not driven by a need to be around people. It's a personality defect, maybe.

Third, I've never fit the mold of the typical church-goer, so finding a church body I jive with is always a feat.

And it doesn't help that the past few weeks have been a time-consuming adjustment, and making friends hasn't been a priority.

But in the back of my mind was my sister's excited high-pitched voice, "Have you found a church yet?"

"Not yet, but I've been checking a few out and seeing what they're about," I'd say when the church conversation came up.

Last week I started noticing things in my personal life that were slipping, things that Alex would have definitely shoved me down for, and decided I needed to be more proactive about finding community. I also asked my friends and family back home to pray for community, secretly hoping God would form a Victoria welcome wagon to show up on my doorstep with bottle of wine and Cuban cigars (to signify they're not too legalistic and accepting of others), and a list of weekend activities from now until New Year's.

It didn't happen quite that way, but God did indeed answer my prayers, and he did it via Twitter.

A few days ago, I tweeted that I was looking for a local church and Bible study. I wasn't really expecting a response, as I'm a new user of Twitter and have about 12 followers, but someone wrote back.

"We go to Lifepointe in Welder theatre Sunday 10:30 AM...we also have a small group at our house on Tuesday pm's...It is a terrific church," the message read.

I couldn't believe it. Someone is reading my Twitter? Go figure.

Ignoring my inner Lifetime TV danger radar, I decided to contact my new Twitter friend and ask about the Tuesday night group. He instantly wrote back with his address and a meeting time.

"It's tonight? Am I really thinking about going to some strange Twitter man's house for small group?" I thought.

Twitter man didn't give me his name, or phone number, and I realized later how odd it was that I didn't bother to get that information.

But apparently, my curiosity got the best of me. Flawed people often experience this.

Driving over to Twitter man's house that night, I remember asking myself if I was prepared to stab my attacker and run away if he turned out to be a murderous psychopath who lures stupid women, like myself, into his home under false pretenses of bible reading and communal prayer.

When I pulled up to the house, a gorgeous white two-story Victorian with rod iron gates enclosing the lawn, I decided I should drive around the block a few times before parking, so I'd know the quickest escape route. I also memorized several license plates from the other cars parked on the street, just in case I'd need to recite them for law enforcement later that night.

As I walked up to the front door of the house, Bible in hand, Twitter man opened the door.

"Are you Jennifer," he asked smiling, and putting his hand out for me to shake it.

"That's me," I said, hoping there were other nice people inside that didn't want to harm me.

"Come on in, we're about to get started," he said.

The house was lovely and warm, and decorated in an eclectic traditional taste that would tastefully fit in any home decorating magazine. In the keeping room, just off the kitchen, a group of delightful faces greeted me.

It was a diverse mix of old and young, married and single. There, everyone laughed, told jokes, poked fun, mostly at Twitter man, though I could tell the group had a genuine compassion and respect for one another.

As the night progressed, we talked about the Bible, dove into some biblical history (which is my personal favorite) and philosophically discussed the churches of today, where they're strong and weak, how they could improve, and so on. Part of this discussion included accountability, how we all need it, and how the church could stand to do more of it. It was an interesting conversation, and there were many thoughts to go around.

And even though this group didn't show up on my doorstep - per my half-way kidding prayer request - they did offer me wine and cigars. We concluded the Bible study with communion, which I've done often, but never at someone's house. The communion wine was actually grape juice, but white wine was offered in jest, and I thought, "God, that's pretty darn close."

After the group discussion concluded and people started heading home, Twitter man told me some of the guys were going to smoke pipes and cigars on the porch. I smiled, and asked if I could join them. God knows, I enjoy a decent cigar every now and then. They seemed genuinely amused that I wanted to smoke, and escorted me upstairs to the cigar closet to choose my cigar. That's right. Twitter man had a cedar cigar closet packed to the brim with a variety of cigars from all over the world. I was impressed, quite impressed.

At the end of this unusually unpredictable night, I found myself smoking a Romeo & Juliet-like stogie on Twitter man's upstairs balcony with a round table of very diverse Christians: The doctor, the bull rider, the police officer, the guitar player, and me. We smoked and chatted about God and Texas, and how it seemed I had at last found some community, and hopefully some accountability down the road. Twitter man confessed it was unlike him to randomly invite strange Twitter friends over to his house, and I confessed that it was unlike to me to accept random invitations from strangers on social networking Web sites.

We decided it was a non-coincidental God thing, a random act of faith that led me to one of my coolest memories yet - smoking my first stogie among good friends in Victoria.

I told Alex about the round table the next day. And in her sweet, excited Alex voice she said, "That is pretty cool . God is so fun!"

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