I arrived at Common Ground around 11:00 this morning and was greeted by Joey who welcomed me into the "brighthouse" and we talked a little bit before fixing some lunch. After eating we went over to the church across the street which I found out was a Methodist Church that had been closed and the UMC donated the building to Common Ground. The building needs a lot of work but the possibilities are endless. I met Gus there and he and Joey gave me a tour. Half the building is already being used for programs but the other half is much older and is only being used for storage at the moment. They also are in the midst of renovating the chapel which should be finished in the next few months.
After the tour they invited me to join their meeting for the children's summer program. Before the meeting they told me there had been a disagreement among some of the people who run the program and so the meeting could be a little uncomfortable. I told them I could step out but they said they wanted to be transparent and that there would be no better way to see how Common Ground loved than by seeing how they addressed conflicts within the community. In order to be respectful I will not go into detail about the conflict but I was impressed by the way most of those in meeting handled the situation.
One of the twelve marks of New Monasticism is "peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution along the lines of Matthew 18". One of the best reflections of love can be seen through how conflict is resolved. Those at Common Ground saw that there was a conflict and chose to bring it up to the group rather than let the conflict fester and possibly end up much worse than it did. I have a lot of respect for Common Ground for allowing me to sit in on that meeting and see how they approach conflict.
After the conflict was addressed they continued on with the meeting and planned the upcoming week and assigned roles to each of the interns. I was also impressed by how they chose the roles because each of the members seemed to step up to the roles that best suite their skills and gifts. I am fairly gifted with reading people and as each role came up I thought about which person could best fit each position and that person stepped up to the position. The other members then affirmed that the person would do a great job in that position and pointed out the gifts they saw in each person.
The day then continued with a bible study with a group from a church that works with Common Ground and we got back in time for a board of directors meeting. Common Ground further impressed me with their transparency by allowing me to sit in on the board of directors meeting as well. They talked about the various ministries that Common Ground has and how they can best optimize each of them. They also spoke of other ministries outside of Common Ground and how they could open up their space for others to use which reflects the humbleness of Common Ground. Some organizations try to micromanage everything that goes on and don't want to share their resources unless they perceive the partnership will benefit them. Instead, Common Ground is aware of their limits and empower individuals and other organizations to meet needs that they themselves might not be able to reach.
It was a packed day and there was much more that I could share but this post is already getting long and I am rather tired. I will do my best to post again tomorrow and will try to post more than once so that I can share a few more details than I did today.