To have this conversation, you have to define the difference between community at large, and a Faith based community. Community in it’s most basic element just happens. You move into a neighborhood, you’re instantly part of that community. You all deal with the same issues. Bad sanitation, same social problems, all those things just happen by merit of geography. That’s pretty basic and I think we all know that. Whether or not you choose to participate in the more detailed elements of community life (friendship, charity…etc) is entirely up to you.
Faith based community is a whole other ball of wax. Rarely in America does your geography dictate what Faith community you are going to belong to. This type of community exists within the confines of the larger community, and at the same time also often transcends the local social community and is a national, if not world wide community.
Ok, so, we have that understanding in place.
So, here’s my issue. An active Faith community is not going to just happen. It takes intentionality of action or doing something with the PURPOSE of building community. It means going outside of your circle of friend. It means being open to people who are different than you.
I’ve seen many people turned off of many faiths because this isn’t there, even in my own life I’ve experienced this. People call this many things, but most often it turns into hypocrisy. Christians are called to love. How is it loving if the kid who doesn’t quite fit in feels like the Christians she just met are not quite letting her into the ‘circle’? As Christian’s, do we see people who are difficult, awkward or just plain mean and think “Someone else will surely take care of them…they have to!” but never try it ourselves?
Do you think the early Christian‘s all had ‘compatible’ personalities?? Do you think they all liked the same social activities, or all had the same tastes in clothes?! I can pretty much assure that that was NOT the case. How, then, can we expect that of our own Faith Community?
I’ll be honest, not every community is going to work for every person. It’s just a fact. However, as Christian’s, as the Community we believe Christ established, should we not be making strives to intentionally be a community??
I’ll be honest, I pulled myself out of a group of people with in the last couple of years for various reason, and, in reality, most of them were MY problems. However (and this statement applies to me as well!!), I saw the issues above run WILD through our group. I saw us sit around and bemoan the fact that we weren’t growing, weren’t advancing. I have to wonder if we thought that a healthy, vibrant community was just going to fall into our laps. I know that for years I’ve been yearning for more than just a social group that happens to be Christian. And by the end, that was all that we were, at least, as far as I was concerned.
It wasn’t that we didn’t love each other. We did! We had love for each other in bucket fulls! We (myself included) didn’t seem to want to bring people from the outside in. We didn’t want to deal with the difficult people, the uncouth, the truly needing. I’m not saying that every person needs to be your best friend…but efforts need to be made.
You have to make a choice to BE a community. And if I’ve learned anything it’s that you can’t wait for other people to start something. YOU have to be the catalist. Sometimes you’ll get hurt. Not every person will accept you with open arms. So, YOU be the one with the open arms. Take chances. I realize that I failed in my other group in that regard. I didn’t make an effort, but wanted people to make an effort for me.
So, that’s my opinion. I hope fervently that while I’m gone the group I’m in now will grow! Not only in numbers, but in maturity and TRUTH! LOVE you guys! Jesus, save us from ourselves!!