"You pray for me, then I'll pray for you, you pray for me, then I'll pray for you." - My son Jakin, to his buddy, pretty much laying out the greatest plan for friendship and brotherhood that I've ever heard.
This last Tuesday night, a group of about 35 guys, representing at least 7 different men's groups, gathered in my basement to celebrate, remember, re-connect with, and be inspired by Christ. It was a great time. We sang, shared, ate, confessed, laughed and prayed together. The connections we made to each other, to God, and to what we are about still has me on cloud nine.
And what we are about is this: we meet together with a few other men in order to take the masks off and help each other become more like Christ. It is a fellowship of fearless friendships.
My youngest son Jakin (5) was hangin' around Tuesday afternoon while I was arranging the basement with some simple chairs, and when I set out a small table with some loaves of bread and drink. I didn't think he was paying much attention.
But the next day, my wife called me from the house. where she was hangin' with Jakin and one of his best buddies, Jake. She called to inform me that the two boys were downstairs in the basement. My son Jakin had come in with Jake and asked for chunks of the leftover bread from the night before and for "two cups of juice". Then Carrie asked what he wanted them for...
My little boy informed her that he and Jake were he headed down to the basement to pray.
While Carrie prepared their sacred meal, Jakin laid out the plan to Jake. "Okay, when we get down there, you pray for me, I'll pray for you, then you pray for me, and I'll pray for you."
And they did.
After Jake got picked up by his mom, Carrie asked Jakin what they prayed for. He told her, "Jake thanked God that I was his friend, I prayed for Jake, and the bread and for God's blessing. And for none of to get sick. Then we played."
That's pretty much what I do in the basement with my buddies on Tuesday nights, too.
Thattaboy, Jakin. Thattaboy, Jake.
One of my buddies from Tuesday nights, Shane, brought his teenage son with him for the first time this past Tuesday. He told me that while he and his son Eastland were leaving, his youngest son Baylor (also 5) asked if he could come. Shane let him down gently, but Baylor, of course, persisted. So Shane told him, "you can do your own group, Baylor." Baylor, who calls it "man-group", hasn't stopped talking about it ever since. He started listing his 5-year-old band of brothers that he would invite right away (and I was so happy to hear that Jakin was on his list).
I told Jakin that he needed to call up Baylor and invite him into his man-group with he and Jake, and Jakin said, "Okay. Actuwawey, tell Baylor he can come over and meet with us every day."
Eastland, Shane's oldest son, as they were going home started talking about what they just experienced, and Eastland said that a group of Christian brothers that he had just started meeting with the week before could possibly be his version of what his dad had.
Wow. What I wouldn't have done to have been a part of the kind of real fellowship, brotherhood, and the mutual fighting for each other's hearts that I am a part of now way back when I was their age. Of course, I didn't know what I didn't know back then.
But I know now. I know now that "church" is made up of people in real relationship with each other prompted by their mutual pursuit of actually shaping their lives to look more like Christ's.
I know now that "church fellowship" is the kind of deep, penetrating friendships that goes down below the surface of things to the "things behind the things"...down to the very heart...where the realm of the Kingdom of God resides.
I know now that "church service" is what I offer to people when I offer them my life for the purpose of helping them become more like Christ in theirs.
And, please God, let me and my brothers be teaching our kids how to live these things early.