Early this year, a handful of young folks in our church decided to start a new Sunday school class. Despite my distaste for the adjective, I say “young” because that seems to be what we’re called by the rest of the church. Perhaps it is because of this that we’ve had a hard time coming up with a name for this group. I, for one, really didn’t want to be called “the new young adults class” because I knew, in our church, we’d be stuck with that name for at least the next twenty years.
In fact, we’ve had a hard time agreeing to call our class a “Sunday school class” at all, rather than, say, a small group. There was a sense, I think, that we didn’t really want to do business-as-usual, even if we were kind of stuck with meeting at a business-as-usual time (i.e., Sunday morning) and a business-as-usual place (i.e., church) due to childcare and other obligations.
Nameless, we kicked off not doing business-as-usual by helping to jumpstart a community garden initiative at the church this spring, which I’ve written about before. The garden had been talked about years and years ago but for various reasons never came to fruition, though there was ample land for the project. I suppose the idea had been planted but the seeds were not. (Nice one, I know.)
And then, partially as a result of a food-and-ethics curriculum we dug into this summer, we decided to make fruit smoothies for the church during our normal doughnut-and-coffee time before classes meet on Sunday mornings. It was a hit, so we thought we might do it monthly, initiating what we called “Second Sunday Smoothies.” Again, very un-business-as-usual.
We invited a local farmer to come and talk to our class about her livelihood, local agriculture, and the CSA model.
Last week, we spent class time stuffing Ziploc baggies full of basil to hand out to our congregation.
We might not have been doing business-as-usual, but we still didn’t have a name.
It was actually in the midst of basil-stained fingers that the gauntlet was thrown down. We would settle on a name or else.
We went back over the various ideas we’d tossed out in discussion over the last few months–sewn, planted, rooted, garden of eatin’, naugahyde windpipe, Ziploc, those crazy young people, etc.–and some of them we liked. Others we didn’t. We knew we wanted a name that people would actually use, but didn’t know how to figure that out.
And then, just when we were considering sticking with AYTBN (as yet to be named), someone threw out a Greek word as a joke.
Kai means “and.”
And somehow it worked. Because Sunday school isn’t just about gathering on Sunday mornings to look pretty and to learn.
It’s about Sunday morning AND working in the garden when you don’t feel like it.
AND bringing yogurt and fruit and your blender to make smoothies.
AND thinking outside the box about growing together.
AND showing up when you’re tired and your kids are cranky.
AND participating in the life of the church.
AND investing in each others’ lives.
AND wanting to.
I like to think that “and” is open, and welcoming, and a place where we figure things out together. And, furthermore, if we don’t have space for that “and,” then we don’t really have community.
But we do. It’s called Kai.