Shoulder to shoulder we stood. Each of us looked out into a sea of eager 5-year olds. It was pet day in Eryn’s class and three dad’s - including me - were proudly holding our charges. I looked down the line and I couldn’t help but feel intimidated by the exotic competition.
“whoooa” the gasps were tangible as Emmie’s Dad explained how Emmie’s python ate mice; Brogan’s Dad went next and showed the sucked out locust carcass that their pet tarantula had devoured. Then it was my turn.
“so … Eryn’s Daddy… what does your pet eat?”
I look at a content Fluffy in my hands. Eryn nods with enthusiastic encouragement from the sea of faces. I smile hopefully.
“Well mostly cabbage leaves…”
I don’t fare any better with the second round of questions – frankly a hutch in the garden didn’t have the same impact as “…specially heated aquarium…” or “a sub terrainian arachnodrome” As I look down the line –I can’t but help feeling a little pathetic, pitiable – a kind of being underdressed feel. I can’t help but feel a little jealous for the exotic. I can’t help but feel I wish Fluffy was more than she was – a guinea pig, a bit more exciting.
“so children who would like to hold one of the pets?... Make a queue in front of the animal you want to hold”.
Funny how popular Fluffy was then – she might only eat cabbage leaves and live in a hutch in the garden but when it comes to feeling safe with she was unanimously the top attraction. When it comes to engaging with something you know is not going to bite you she was up there. When it comes being secure and non-threatening Sally the snake and Trevor the Tarantula were left in Fluffy’s wake.
Funny how as church we so often look down the line at other churches and feel rather insignificant. Hankering after an em. church; alt. church; a dot abbreviation identity. Chasing after trends. Eager to buy into whatever the latest ‘shake and stir model’ of church is on the market. Buying the winning missional method in a DVD discussion pack.
Here’s what I walked home thinking perhaps it is ok to be simply - church. Perhaps it is ok to try and present a non-threatening community, secure environment where people feel safe. Perhaps a challenge for the emerging church is to keep their environment of creativity such that it doesn’t alienate those that fear its bite.