Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Some further thoughts on community, maybe not the most coherent but some words I have found interesting:

When it comes to exclusivity I love what Dallas Willard has to say “To understand Jesus’ teachings, we must realize that deep in our orientations of our spirit we cannot have one posture towards God and a different one towards other people. We are a whole being, and our true character pervades everything we do. We cannot, for example, love God and hate human beings”

Thinking about that Dorothy Day comments “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least”

Once again I do see the importance of peer communities but if it allows us to exclude the people we love the least, then it’s wrong.

Willard also states “God’s aim in human history is the creation of an inclusive community of loving persons, with Himself included as its primary sustainer and most glorious inhabitant”

Inclusive community has to be the way forward.

Also found a great quote with regards to true community being a hard place to hide “Community is the place where our limitations, our fears and our egotism our revealed to us…… while we are alone, we could believe we loved everyone. Now that we are with others living with them all the time, we realise how incapable we are of loving, how much we deny to others, how closed in on ourselves we are” Jean Vanier

Over the years we have seen many attempts at creating community; from the early house churches in the 60’s to the 90’s cell group mathematical model. (I was in a cell group when I was in Chelmsford prison, there were only two of us and we were never going to multiply!) the reason these things keep popping up is that we all have a desire to experience genuine community and to a measure I feel the two I have mentioned have been very helpful.

But like so many, I do sometimes end up thinking “there has to be more”

Maybe Gilbert Bilezikian is right when he says “Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda, the church that has been reformed always needs to be reformed. Authentic revival is always a revival of community life”

Maybe that is what has been happening, for the last 50 years God has been whispering about the revival of community and we have been trying hard to make it happen, it’s always been on his agenda and will be forever and I kind of feel that he is happy we are all giving it a go.

I got most of this from a great little book by John Ortberg called “Everybody’s normal until you get to know them”

In the words of Miriam Woo “to embrace authentic community is to embrace the triune heartbeat of our creator and truly experience the oneness of God”


Rick Hill said...

thanks for these thoughts...very helpful right now in stuff i've been thinking through...

Brian Francis Hume said...

Ditto what Rick said. We've been seeking to create community within the emerging generation here in Fredericksburg. Traditionally our church has been strong in the area of large, renewal type of meetings, but lacking in true community among the young adults. It takes time and sacrifice; and, a little lovin'! Thanks again for challenging me bro!

dave wiggins said...

good stuff.

bex said...

Quite subconciously i was considered the importance of communities and the fact they perhaps help form an integral part of society.

Contemplate the John Donne famous quote; "No man is an island..." and if we are not mind to be alone but instead in groups. As they enable us to develop as people.

However we have to be cautious about enlargening the communities to some extent, because sometimes as it enlarges the key purpose of coming together to worship God is replaced, with materialism. I won't name any churches (because I would probably be sued for slander) but their focus does not seem to be as passionate for God anymore, and its rich and makes the followers give more money. I remember how Paul wrote in one of his epistles, how the congregation's first love (God) had become the second focus, and I just thought how sometimes that happens in a church community as it expands.

When I began to contemplate church communities post reading your blog on communities, I immediately thought of a song by casting crowns called "Stain Glass Masquerade" and had to admit that it is applicable sometimes to a large extent. Sometimes church communities fail to generate that community where the people can all be genuine, just think like when another congregation member asks how life is and how your spiritual life is, you just give a vague answer which is what the other expects. Whilst in your heart you want to scream that you are falling in depression (or self harm AGAIN), falling gradually away from God, and don't know how to render it. Hence sometimes communities can have a pretence about it, they are all with you in your joys, but you worry what they will think in your trials and troubles.

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade
(Stain Glass Masquerade)

The song is so poignant so listen to it"!

In conclusion we need to eliminate any pretence in order to be a proper community.