Friday, June 28, 2019: “A Strategic Insight” Gathering and Scattering the Church. This evening my wife and I went with a dozen members of the Sunday School class I co-teach in my church for a ride on a pontoon boat on Lake Murray outside of Columbia, SC.
Beyond fellowship and the nurturing of our community with one another, we had a destination. We were headed to a small island variously called Lunch Island, Bomb Island, or Doolittle Island. The purpose was to watch the swarming of the Purple Martin birds – a type of swallow.
(A digression. Why the three names for the island? Lunch Island was used by the Doolittle Raiders during World War II to practice bombing runs on the Japanese Home Islands which they later carried out. Since then the island has also been known as Bomb Island or Doolittle Island.)
During their annual migration, for a couple of months in the summer, Purple Martins roost on Lunch Island every night. During the day they scatter for miles and miles around the area. As evening approaches they begin to return to Lunch Island. Upwards to one million birds swarm to the island during the height of their migration. As they return each evening, they swarm in community with one another around the island before they finally find a place to roost.
In the same way, the intent of Christians is to swarm or scatter throughout God’s world as persons of God’s love and compassion. Regularly Christians also gather in community for worship, fellowship support, community, and inspiration for the next round of scattering.
Just as it would end the life and migration patterns of Purple Martin birds if they did not daily scatter and eventually continue their migration, so it is that Christians lose their missional spirit when all they do is gather and never scatter.