This is the second installment of an interview with Southlands community member, Maddy. Before you read this post, be sure to check out the first part of our interview here. Maddy has some great insight on church and community, so stay tuned for the third and final part of our interview soon.
A Two at Church
S: Let’s talk about church! How long have you been at Southlands?
M: I’ve been at Southlands since January 2010.
S: Great! What are you involved in at church?
M: I’m on the music team at church, and I go to life group. I didn’t start off on the music team though. I started in the cafe at Southlands Brea, and then when we planted Southlands Fullerton, I started in the Connections team and the Logistics team. I was one of the only girls on the Logistics team for a very long time.
S: Holding it down!
M: Yeah! So then I got on the music team and did both that and connections for a while, but then I wanted to free up time for the music team in terms of availability to play. So I stopped doing connections and now I am just on the music team.
S: So what strengths do you bring to church and community?
M: I think creating an atmosphere. Helping to create a space and an environment that allows for worshiping together as a community is something that is important to me because we can worship. And when I say worship, I mean in music, but I also mean like if we can do that together then we can do other things together because oftentimes singing in the large group is an awkward thing and not every church does it – especially smaller churches. It can be awkward. So I love creating a space that allows us to worship God in that context and then allowing that to go into other areas of our lives.
We can sing alone, and that’s sometimes easier, sometimes not, but it’s different when you’re singing with the body of believers, and you’re all singing the same form of praise. We’re all in it. Experiencing that environment together creates community in a different kind of way because you are all coming from different points of view, you’re all coming from different perspectives, different weeks, different days, different mornings, and when you can stand with each other, knowing where the other person is and singing together, praising the same God in the same way, then it builds community in a different kind of way, and it’s a picture of presence. So I don’t know if that’s necessarily a strength of mine, but it’s what I would hope to bring to the table.
And then I also like to informally create community or at least make people feel welcomed. So even though I’m not on the connections team, I’m still trying to connect with people. So I think that’s part of the 2w3 Hostess idea too – creating a welcoming environment. It’s something I try to do from the front but also not in the front every week. So trying to do that within the church as a whole is my desire.
S: Yeah. I mean it sounds like both of those are a form of hospitality in a sense.
M: Yeah, I definitely think that.
S: That’s really cool, I would never have thought about that as strengths, so that’s awesome.
M: I guess that’s the beauty of the Enneagram.
S: It is! I think I’m going to learn a lot as I interview 9 different types!
M: Yeah, sitting down to have a conversation with them and just asking questions to hear their perspective on something that you are experiencing that is the same but also very different.
Belonging is a way to care for one another and care for needs whether spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical, it’s a holistic idea.
S: I noticed a lot of the words you used were like community, creating space, welcoming…You talked a lot about the environment and the atmosphere both at church and at work, which I think is interesting. Do you think that’s something you’ve considered throughout your entire life?
M: Honestly, I think part of that comes from my mom. Every time I’m cleaning or setting something up, for some reason this one moment comes to my head. We were cleaning our house for a party or someone coming over for dinner. I was supposed to vacuum or sweep and I was questioning her, “I don’t understand, nobody’s going to care!” And my mom was like “If we went over to another family’s house, and they had a dirty floor, would you feel welcomed there? Or would you feel like you’re intruding? And how would that make you feel?” I think about that so often, and I was about 10 at the time. I was so young, but for some reason that just sticks with me.
I think when you have an environment that is welcoming or something you just don’t have to think about, it opens you up to experience that thing to the fullest extent. So my prayer every time I’m leading worship is “Lord, help me to not be a distraction” in whatever way that is. Like help me to know the words or to not mess up – not that messing up is bad because even that can lead us into the presence of God in a different way, but just like help me to do what I can do to not be a distraction so that people can focus on You. I think part of that is even in my head when I am welcoming people into Solidarity. I want them to experience the best part of Solidarity because I love and care for those things so much, and i want other people to feel the same. If they are distracted by an unkept office, then they are not really going to get the whole picture of the thing that makes it great. It will be like, “they did that one thing that was awful,” and that’s not the point.
S: It’s almost like you do all the work in the background to make sure people don’t think about it or they don’t notice so they can pay attention to what matters. So with that, what does community mean for you?
I think community is meant to be a safe place for you to learn about who God is from other perspectives
M: Community to me is safety – being a safe place to have your dirt on the floor. I guess with saying all this, I should say, I don’t think about those things whenever I go into someone’s house or somewhere else – but I think community is about having the freedom to have that dirt on the floor and your dirty laundry displayed. You know that people are going to accept you no matter what, even if you are a distraction, and then walk with you in that, and walk with you in figuring out why that happened. I think community is a safe place to be yourself and to come up with all your garbage, and then also allow for other people to have garbage, and then together you’re just trying to support one another.
I think community is meant to be a safe place for you to learn about who God is from other perspectives, knowing that as you learn those things there are going to be things that come up that are gross and things that you’re not going to like, but it’s a safe place for those things to come up because the people of God are there to walk with you.
S: Has that always been your perspective on it or do you think it’s changed over the years?
M: I think that at my core that’s probably always been there, but I don’t know that I would have described it that way. I think I always would have described community as a place of belonging, so I think how I view it now is just a more robust understanding of what belonging means. Belonging is a way to care for one another and care for needs whether spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical, it’s a holistic idea. Whether it is [gifting] a car or a prayer, whatever it may be.
Thank you again to Maddy for sharing with us!