A Sense of Community
What does this mean and what does this look like?
There is something deep within us that yearns for community beyond our natural family. A place where we belong and have a sense of connection with others, a place where we can do life together, a place where we can be ourselves. Sounds great! Yet why is this so hard to achieve? Do we like the idea of it only before the reality of people’s live encroaches on our time and becomes and an interruption on our agendas?
In recent decades new technology has had a big impact on how we do life. Our means of communicating has changed; we have ‘virtual friends’ and social networks which provide an online community for many people in one shape or form. Yet this should not stop us from trying to reach out to those within our immediate community. Is there a risk of being too engrossed with our online friends and groups that we neglect the people that are in front of us?
Don’t get me wrong: the internet and social media is great in keeping us updated with current events and it is a great resource. I guess the challenge is that we shouldn’t rely on this and forget the personal touch – which means that we have to get to know people as individuals. Maybe that is where the difficulty lies. The art of building relationship is commonly based on a mutual interest that that draws both parties together: both are willing to invest time getting beyond the polite small talk to get to know the individual underneath. Our church life can provide that. We meet together because we want to ‘do fellowship together’ and we want to encourage and support each other (usually on a Sunday). Midweek meetings and small groups where friendships can deepen are integral to church life, as well as the necessary planning meetings relating to church. With all these midweek meetings there is the potential risk that the week is sucked up by church meetings that there is no spare time (or very little) to connect with those outside the church circle. Also church itself could be at risk of taking a functional rather than a relational approach to life.
Is this the way that Jesus wanted us to be doing life? What was the example that he led and how is that different from the way we are currently living? His life was never distinctly separated between ‘church’ or ‘community’: both seemed to be seamlessly integrated to each other. Somehow along the line they appear to have become separated and the act of building community outside the church seems an onerous task filled with dread, apprehension, fear and uncertainty. We become focused on ‘evangelism’ rather than just building friendships. The joy, fun and openness seem to get pushed aside.
I came across this quote which I thought was quite apt:
We need to somehow come out our self-sufficient box and actively engage with others. We are created to do life together and rather than being reliant on our own strength and ability we need to be dependent on others and the Holy Spirit to do what we may find difficult. We need to let others know that there is more that this ‘box life’ mentality, that community life is something that can be a reality if we all play our part. Are we willing to do that?
What are the challenges that we face as individuals and as a church as we strive to create community with others? Do we want it enough to work through these challenges and make Community a reality for ourselves and others?
- ‘We live in a box. We drive back and forth to work in a box. We spend our work hours in a box-like cubicle. We drive back to our box homes and watch our boxes every evening, until ultimately one day we die and are buried in yet another box.’ ↩