A community is a unified body of individuals with common characteristics or interests living together within a larger society. If community is characterized by unity due to some common thread, where do we find “community” today? According to John Drane in After Macdonaldization, suburbanization has led to the fragmentation of communities. Suburbs were constructed in such a way as to minimize the unnecessary interactions that would normally occur between neighbors in urban environments. Houses in the suburbs have intentionally been constructed in ways to provide a buffer zone between residents; these buffer zones have traditionally consisted of large fences or walls and large tracts of land between residences. This is not to say that privacy and space is necessarily a bad thing. However the “need” for privacy and space has diminished the amount and depth of interaction between neighbors. As with most relationships, intimacy and
Deep and authentic community grows as interaction increases.
Because human beings have been created by God to be social beings, humans have a thirst for community. The lack of community within our neighborhoods has left an empty space in our lives, therefore we seek community in all sorts of places.
One place where really community can occur is within The Church. While going through the New Testament we see community in action, functioning as it was meant to function (and sometime being utterly dysfunctional . The early Church in Acts 2 and 4 has often been used as a model for what community is supposed to look like (I have written on that many times before). As we look through scripture we find that the essence of Church lies in community. Not only is its nature communal (yes the Church is an institution but more so its an organic being), The Church is commanded to be an example to the world displaying what deep community really is.
The Church is commanded to fulfill two separate yet intertwined functions relating to community. First The Church is called to be a community of believers. Secondly, the church is called to meet the needs of those outside of The Church. One such need is the human need for community.
The Church can help create community by meeting the basic needs of un-unified communities.
In doing this, the Church can serve to bring Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. If this is resonating with you at all I want you to consider some of the following questions.
- How deep/authentic is your community?
- Would a non-Christian feel comfortable being with your community?
- Do you know anyone who lacks real community? Could you invite them into your community?
- How well do you know the non-Christians who live and work among you?
Next time we will consider wht it would take to foster the growth of authentic Christ-centered communities within our physical neighborhoods.