If these people knew me—I mean, REALLY knew me—would I still be loved and accepted by them?
I think that’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another. Taking a step into community can be a scary proposition. It’s not always easy to clear our throats, raise up a hand, and say, “Hello, World… I exist!” When we do muster up the courage to take that step, we want to put our best foot forward and present an unblemished, perfect, wart-free version of ourselves. Unfortunately, if you’re anything like me, once one wart gets covered up, another one—usually a bigger one!—magically appears.
Over the past six years I’ve had the privilege of being part of the BCL community at Summit. BCL (i.e. Base Camp Live!) is a family production that is performed on Sunday mornings throughout the school year. In addition to the weekly BCL shows, this team, comprised primarily of volunteers, also produces other family-oriented performances, such as The Road to Zamboria musical seen in spring of 2016 at the Orlando Fringe Festival. What happens on the BCL stage has a tremendous impact on how families at Summit grow deeper in their faith together. As important as that is (and we believe it’s very important), what is happening backstage in the lives and hearts of our team is equally as important.
The BCL team is comprised of actors, technicians, creative writers, and (perhaps most important to the kids) popcorn-makers, and greeters. Some have been involved in performing arts their whole lives—self-proclaimed “theatre people”—while others have no experience at all and just want to explore what theatre is all about. As crazy as it may sound, putting together a theatrical production has many things in common with being in a Connect group. You begin on the very first day of rehearsals as a group of strangers coming together for a specific purpose (in this case, to put on a play). There is some awkwardness as you play a few warm-up games to get to know each other.
Over the next few weeks, something incredible happens. As you memorize lines, rehearse scenes, and build sets together, community happens. You get to know each other in a deeper way—warts and all. You find that even disagreements have a way of bringing people closer together. As you work together to create a “make-believe” world, you inevitably become more authentic with each other. And by the end of the final performance, everyone is crying bittersweet tears as they think about the journey they’ve just been on together. The thing I love about BCL is that we get to experience this unique process within the context of Christ-centered community, and we come out on the other side forever changed.
“Sharing a passion like theatre with someone, and especially a passion that you use for God's glory, is automatically going to make you feel more connected,” says Tiffany Zingaretti, one of the hosts of BCL at the Herndon campus. Tiffany has also performed in Family Camp sketches and helped create props and costumes for The Road to Zamboria. Being involved in BCL has made her feel more connected at Summit. “I think God uses our bond to grow everyone in the ministry. We pray together, laugh together, and cry together...And get to be the hands and feet of Jesus together.”
Jill Morrison, who plays Mrs. C at the Waterford campus, feels a sense of belonging in the BCL community. It has given her a safe place to become real with others. “I'm not afraid to ask for prayer or to tell anyone what's going on in our crazy little household, because I'm not being judged,” she says. “Being involved with BCL has helped me to believe that I have good things to offer, and that I'm welcome, and that God loves me. The community brings God's word to life, and that's a pretty exciting, wonderful, and humbling thing to be a part of.”
Of course, as with any community at Summit, growing together doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and effort to make the time to get to know each other. Brent Kossina, who played the role of Tinley in The Road to Zamboria, knows that community is something you have to be intentional about. He took the initiative in scheduling fun events for the cast and crew to participate in outside of rehearsals and was lovingly referred to as the “Cruise Director” of the musical. “It was important to me to organize outings for the cast and crew so that we would get to know each other outside of the play,” he says. “Fostering the friendships outside of rehearsals brought us closer together in a way that made the next five stressful months a whole lot easier. Without these opportunities, it would have been much harder to help a fellow cast member when they encountered difficulties in the play or their everyday lives. We could learn to depend on each other because we actually knew each other.”
I am so grateful BCL provides an avenue to build community around a shared passion of theatre. For those of us whose hearts beat a little faster at the very mention of theatre, being invited into the wonderfully messy BCL community has been a game-changer. Those first simple steps of auditioning or grabbing coffee with a BCL staff member have opened up doors into transparent, vulnerable, and incredibly fun community. Warts included.
Michael Murray is the BCL Content Coordinator at Summit Church. We are currently looking for a few fresh faces around (and on) the BCL stage! If you have a heart for helping families grow together and a couple theatre tricks up your sleeve, we'd love to talk to you about joining the BCL team. You can email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.