How would you define ‘community’? It’s almost a ruined word, I know. In fact, a friend sent me an email this week telling me so [and he’s a pretty bright guy]. But what does it mean really? Is it ‘fellowship’? Eating together? Sharing life’s burdens?
The following are some random thoughts from that email:
Community means availability. It means time spent together. Real time.
Time for conversation, interaction, and a deepening of communion, of
intimacy between 2 or more people. Community is never general or generic.
It is always specific and definable by people spending time together.
Now, time spent together does not guarentee community. There has to be a
certain quality to the time spent together. Time doesn’t guarentee it but
it is a pre-requisite.
Community means vulnerability. If we aren’t willing to open up our lives
to others we will never experience true community. This is why mutual
confession builds community. We come to the table with our strengths and
our weakenesses and we lay ourselves bare, exposed to the scrutiny and
more importantly the love, acceptance and forgiveness of others.
Community means stability. If we want to experience community, we need to be
rooted somewhere among some people. If we constantly move on in search of
greener pastures we will not be around long enough to grow the roots
necessary for community. Community can not happen on the fly.
What do you think? How would you define biblical community? What is it that makes a youth group, or a church, or a neighborhood so bound together that they weather any storm that comes? In fact, in community, they not only survive, but flourish….what makes that possible?
If the above comments are the theory of building community, where are the nuts-and-bolts? How do you convince people to spend large amounts of time together? How do you convince them that the fruit is worth the time-investment? How do you reach the point of mutual confession and vulnerability?
Our student ministry has endured the 40 Days routine, survived small groups, and has built a nice little club that doesn’t readily accept strangers. It does ‘fellowship’ well, but ‘community’? Not so much…
While we are turned inward, all the world sees is a bunch of rears…