The Power of Gathering
By Scott Shin
The power of gathering as a community becomes apparent over time, showing up on the most mundane and routine days. On one routine Thursday night, as I headed home after my evening workout, I felt a tugging in my gut that told me to head over to the Ex Creatis art studio at Saddleback Church. It was late, and I was in my workout clothes, all sweaty and tired. My greatest desire in that moment was to go home, take a shower,and lie down on my bed.
But as I continued to stare right at Saddleback Church from the stoplight of my Gym’s parking structure, I remembered that Ex Creatis was holding its Thursday night gathering. With reluctant and compromised resolve, I made a deal with that tugging in my gut to just stop by and peek into the studio. At best, I’d just say hello to my roommate, Scuba, who was sure to be there.
Upon entering the studio, I was greeted with great food, music, and pour-over coffee from a local roaster. Just seeing the pour-overs made the visit worthwhile. Naturally, the pour-over station was my first stop. Then, as I looked up from my coffee, I noticed a face that I hadn’t seen in some time. More than a year earlier, my Saddleback Berlin mission team leader had suggested I reach out to Julie Artemov, the young lady sitting there at the art studio, to recruit her for a future Berlin trip. I’d just started recruiting a team for that very trip. Julie didn’t know who I was, but I knew I needed to talk to her. I wanted to devise a plan, and though that would’ve normally been wise, when you’ve been sitting on an idea for a year and the opportunity arises to execute it, devising a plan is just another way of procrastinating. So, in order to devise my plan, I went over to talk to Scuba. Before I even had a chance to speak, Scuba pointed directly at Julie, suggesting “maybe Julie might want to go on your trip.” Ok, “I get it, God,” I thought to myself. Without further hesitation, I walked over to Julie, tapped her on the shoulder and abruptly, but calmly started a conversation. “You don’t know me, but I’m recruiting a Saddleback mission team to Berlin for the summer. Would you like to join us?”
I expected her to say at best “thank you, weirdo. I’ll think about it,” or the worst case would be “I’m busy, I can’t do it, and I don’t know you.” Instead, she began crying. That was far worse than I expected. As she wiped her tears, Julie apologized, explaining to me that just before I tapped her on the shoulder, she was telling her friend how sad she was about missing a big opportunity to join Ex Creatis on their summer mission trip to Berlin. Julie had no idea that I was gathering another team to go right after them. When I invited her to join our team, she felt as though God was giving her another opportunity to go. Had I given up on gathering that Thursday night, what happened next might not have been possible