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Slugging toward Kingdom-living

In the Washington, D.C. area, there’s an incredible amount of movement when it comes to people needing to get in and out of this government and industry hub. Even with six-to-eight-lane highways moving in and out of the Capitol, roads are literally carpeted with cars during certain hours of the morning and afternoon. Easing the problem are government/municipal-created metros, bus lines, commuter lots for carpools and bus stops and High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes (where each vehicle must have at least three persons in order to use them during those high traveled hours).

But there’s one other mode of commuting worth noting—and this one wasn’t created by and isn’t run by any government or municipality. This one is entirely organic and unregulated, and it’s called “slugging.”

According to, slugging began in 1972 when the first HOV lanes were opened. Originally, drivers would cruise bus lines and offer rides to two other individuals in order to meet the requirements to travel the HOV lanes. Eventually, riders and drivers—complete strangers, I might add—spontaneously formed slug lines at various places throughout the communities surrounding D.C. to meet the needs of commuters who work at various points in the Capitol area. Along the way, social rules of etiquette evolved as well as methods to start new lines. A neighbor also says that people sometimes form more organized carpools with folks they meet in slug lines.

So how does it play out in real life? Well, there’s a slug line at a commuter lot about four miles from my house. You drive to the lot (or have your spouse drive you, heh), stand in a line with other folks on a sidewalk (the line’s not marked with a sign or in any other way, by the way) and wait for drivers, who pull up one behind the other and load two folks at a time. And, when it’s time to come home, you do the same thing, only this time at various places throughout D.C.

This form of commuting is one of the most organic forms of organization I’ve ever seen. No one is in charge. The system is entirely without written, regulated or official organization. It springs up where needed and drizzles off when it’s not.

It reminds me a lot of Kingdom-living—and how emerging church folk talk about doing and being church. Think about it: what if the church looked like this? What if being church or doing church played out as living and walking with others as we go and happen to meet, pooling our gifts and resources, springing up where needed and shedding its skins when the time was right? What if the church was a coming together of strangers, families and friends for moments and, if needed, for longer and more organized forms of ministry? If we can do this in order to meet commuting needs, surely we can do this to meet the needs of the Kingdom.

One can dream. But perhaps it’s more than that. Slugging makes me think this kind of organic organization is in our very blood, our DNA. If emerging folks are right about Kingdom-living, that's not too far fetched.

(Image: Public Domain)