Posted by: worinld | October 8, 2007

tired. but ready.

So, I’ve been crazy busy past few weeks being a part of a church plant (again). It’s been interesting, because I joined this group a little late, and so, I had to find new ways to be a part of this community – when a tight community already existed. To further complicate things, this group is very artistic. A LOT more artistic group than I’m used to hanging out with, so there was a cultural adjustment there as well.

Anyways… to get to what’s been churning in my head, I was having a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a friend, who was church hunting, and he said something that made me think:

I find lots of churches here all focus on “community”. everyone wants “community”, but I can’t help feel that overemphasis on community (like overemphasis on sanctification ultimately is inward-focused). While I’m searching for churches, that seems to be the biggest thing here. I don’t encounter too many churches that say they were made for worship or they’re community is for worship. It’s probably semantics…but I dunno. It doesn’t feel right.

And I thought about what my friend said. And with all this talk and emphasis about community in churches, I think he’s right. There is this constant search for community in America where we’ve become so disjointed with our neighbors and neighborhoods (starbucks is the new front porch). And so, I understand that glaring need for community and how Church can fill that need. But there’s tons of communities out there. Communities exist in infinite numbers outside of churches. Anyone can have community. Intellectual emergents have community. Sports fanatics have community. The Otherkin have community (yes,  let’s see how many posts we can go before we don’t mention them :-P). In this community-deprived culture, people are finding community.

So, is that it? Is church only about building community? So, back to my experience these past few months. Within the difficulties of becoming ‘integrated’ into the core group of this new church, I found that I’m now a part of this community. I didn’t spend all my free time trying to hang out with these folks. I didn’t incessantly IM or post on their facebook walls trying to be their friends. I didn’t sit down with each of them learning their life story and knowing more about them to be their friend. No… rather, I became a part of them by being involved in a mission together. This mission is something that God has called each and one of us to do together, to bring light into dark places. And as much as non-Christian readers may cringe at that mission, it is something that I cannot ignore, or dumb down to make it more palatable to you. It is my mission here in this dark and depressed city, and I’m glad that I am not alone in this mission.

Church… is so much more than JUST a community. There’s a mission that each church is called to, and that mission being carried out together develops a community that does so much more: offers a sense of belonging that’s so much more meaningful to each member, and creates a community that is that much stronger knit. In a generation on a search to belong, people will lose their way if belonging is the ultimate goal.

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Responses

  1. I forget where I read it, but it talked about how the nature of community implies a very permeable “border,” so to speak. This is antithetical to how the majority of Christians view community, which view community more like a “club” where there is a highly defined border with no fluidity amongst the members and the “outside world.”

    Fluidity does not entail lack of any identity to a local body whatsoever. It, moreso, strengthens the notion that the community is inclusive, open, and ultimately missional.

    So I wonder, with this alternative definition, how your article might play out.

    ANYWAY, this entry is relevant in many ways to my experience. In Atlanta, it’s hard seeing church like this. And as much as I’m “invested” in the Emerging conversation, I want to live for others in the kingdom through the body life of the community I am a part of.

    worinld, AMEN AND AMEN to your post.

  2. From my personal church experience, fluidity is a given. I’ve been living in Baltimore for the past 6.5 years, and serving at the same church for almost that long. During that time, there’s only a handful of folks who have remained consistent over the 6 years. In a city within our culture, ministering to mostly single folks, fluidity is a fact. You can complain all you want saying that church should be a club, but…it’ll do you no good.

    So given that… what gets people to stay? What keeps people within that body? People getting out of selfishness, and into being concerned more about the community they’re in than themselves. To love others more than oneself. seek out helping the needy more than self comfort.
    I say that easily as I live in my comfortable house, so in no way am I condemning people who have moved on. I hope that nobody takes it that way. Because, ultimately, it is about calling. A person (including many of my close friends) can be called to move elsewhere…yes, including the comforts of suburbia. And blessings in their call to reach out to those communities. But yeah, I hope that this city, and this church is(was) more than simply a bus stop in their journey.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and comment.

    If our definition of church is reduced to simply community, I’m afraid we are in big trouble. God’s command isn’t “In your going, make communities of all peoples…” its “In your going, MAKE DISCIPLES of peoples…” Although there is a strong communal aspect of the faith, its within the context of who we are called to be in relation to the world. We are all functioning parts of a body… to what end? To simply exist as a body with functioning hands and feet, or for the body to interact with its surroundings. I agree with you… it is SO much more than simply community.

  4. one other comment is that more than ever we live in a transient generation. one of the struggles of our young adult community is that no one wants to commit to the city of Atlanta for any longer than 1 year.

    i’m wondering then what does it mean to do “church” (which i’m being less and less sure of as a finite word) in light of the migration patterns of people who are on this proverbial path towards “calling” (which i’m also less and less sure of as a thing to be sought out)


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