In this article written for Inheritance Magazine, Epic Leadership Development team member Adrian Pei shares about what it means to “expand” our social and ideological circles. The article covers painful experiences from his past, along with some practical examples of bold and cutting-edge communities within Epic (featuring stories of Epic staff and students in California, Texas, and New York!).
1. List the ten people you are closest with, or that you see most often. How would you describe your “inner circle?”
2. If you attend church or fellowship, how much of a subculture do you think exists there (i.e. language, songs, behaviors, inside jokes)? How do you think an outsider might experience visiting your group?
3. Name a person you admire, who is very different from you. What have you learned from this person?
4. Name one cultural group (ethnic, sociological, ideological, etc.) different from your own, that you’d like to learn from. What’s a practical way you can include people from that group in your personal circles?
5. What is one thing that you wish the world understood about the value of your culture? Name some specific ways that you can be a part of bringing that to them.
The group leader mocked me as he put his thumb and index finger in front of his forehead.
“So, you showed up. What, were you waiting by the phone all day, hoping that one of us would invite you?”
A group of friends around him laughed. “Let’s go in, we’re late. The service is starting.”
One girl lingered behind, looking at me with sympathy. “You know we’re just messing with you, right? It isn’t because you’re non-Christian or anything.” She gave an awkward shrug before entering the double doors to catch up with the others.
I stood alone outside the church, with the darkness of evening surrounding me. Through the glass, I could see lights shining and people gathering. I heard the chorus of praise music echoing.
And I wanted to disappear.