ADAM: A few weeks ago, I sat down over coffee and some killer chicken biscuits to chat with Beth Romanoski. Beth moved to Atlanta a while back to work with BigStuf student camps and lives with friends in Midtown. Since attending one of our earliest NP/NIGHTS events, she’s been a part of the leadership team that’s planning the official launch of NP/NIGHTS in 2016. She began by telling me why she’s so passionate about people who don’t usually attend church. 

BETH: I live in Midtown, and I see my neighbors a lot. It’s almost like communal living. I had been pondering what it looks like to have or find non-Christian friends. Then I realized that I’m living among them. I can knock on their doors and invite them to dinner, and I can invite them to live life with me. People may never attend a service in Alpharetta or even go to church, but they can still be impacted by what’s happening there, as people who are involved live transformed lives among them. 

ADAM: Although Beth grew up attending church, she didn’t always feel connected to true or helpful Christian community. She told me that she has found it now, though, and it’s one of the most important things in her life. 

BETH: For me, growing up in a Christian community felt scary. I didn’t understand what grace looked like. It seemed like there was more guilt than freedom in having accountability and sharing my struggles. Branching out on my own brought a freedom that I wasn’t just my dad’s daughter and my brother’s little sister. At college, I finally began to discover what it looked like for me to really step into community. I’m just figuring out what community looks like for me. I see it in the Trinity, the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I also see it in Jesus and his disciples. I always knew it was important, but I’d never experienced the realness of it, so I struggled to enjoy what it could be. When you’re truly in community, no matter how much you constantly try to put your best foot forward and project your best self, you can’t hide the real you; eventually, everything will be seen and known. When I found Christian community in college, it was the first place I experienced what it was to be fully known and to have people love me anyway. 

ADAM: When I asked her why Christian community was essential for her personally, I loved what she told me. 

BETH: I’ve realized now that I don’t thrive unless I have people investing in my life. So, I’m going to be willing to have tough conversations and talk about my struggles. I’m going to have people who are willing to challenge and encourage me. I don’t want fake relationships. Community should be where you thrive and where you feel most like yourself. But challenges come along just as often as the encouragement, and you have to be ready for that. You’re able to call each other out and also support each other. There’s a lot of beauty in the realness of choosing to let people in and the trust that comes when you stay. So, it’s important to be the person that stays. When people spill it all, I’m choosing to be the one that stays. 

ADAM: What truly excites Beth about NP/Nights isn’t just the community aspect. It’s more than that. For her, the most exciting part is creating this space with the people who aren’t yet there in mind.  

BETH: I’m excited about getting uncomfortable to make other people comfortable. I’m excited about creating a space where people who don’t normally attend church feel comfortable. I’m aware that with big churches, inviting people can be intimidating. We hope to create a place where people can see that maybe they’re not that different and think, this can be a place where, for the first time, I can let my guard down. We’re going to try new things and do things differently, all with the hope that people will feel loved, connected, and comfortable as they plug in.