“community” and making it harder to claim “follower of Christ”

Part 1 “community”

Blogger-friend-like-guy Jim of ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’ has written two posts recently about “community” that I really enjoyed and got me thinking on what we think of as “community” or “fellowship” in terms of church. I tend to think small groups on that topic… but you can read my comments there:

Here’s a few quotes:

So what is “fellowship” supposed to mean?

I personally don’t feel very close to hardly anyone in our church that I don’t bring with me to a Sunday service. Perhaps if I threw myself into spending every waking minute living, eating and breathing church I would know ever person in our congregation, but I know I wouldn’t feel close to them. Not family close. Not friendship close. But if I don’t spend that kind of time, when, exactly, is all that fellowship supposed to occur? Dunno.

A symptom that a church may have “scaled” beyond any simple sense of community is when it tries to build community through artificial programs aimed solely at that. For example, in our church we have “groups of eight”. These are groups of four couples who then have dinner together once a month for a given period of time (four or five months – enough for a rotation through all the households) and then every six months or a year the groups re-form with new sets or permutation of couples. The idea is by these small groups sharing a monthly meal together outside of church that they would get to know each other more as people. This would be a great idea if it were organic – if four couples (or three, or two) met in church, liked each other, and chose to do it. But as an official, sanctioned program with a sponsoring board and notices in the bulletin it feels very much of the “now everybody get together and play nice” variety of forced interaction.

Perhaps these types of activities do work for some. I have a suspicion they work for extroverts, who, one will note, are exactly the people who don’t need such things. But they don’t work for me. In business I am just too jaded, cynical and observant to allow myself to think that an hour or two of some sort of “exercise” trumps the remaining 2,000 hours of a work year spent together and all that happens there. Now think about church, where most of us who are not paid church staff don’t come close to spending 40 hours a week there. It is going to be doubly hard to build community then because not only is it being artificially constructed but the time allocated is much too small.

Part 2 “making it harder to claim “follower of Christ””

Today I also came across an article (via Adam and Jeremy) in RELEVANT MAGAZINE titled Faith or Manipulation? that was “interesting”. Here’s a great little quote from it:

What I would like to say is that I wish they made it harder for me to claim the title, “follower of Christ”…

I really mostly agree. Challenge me! Make me step up, but not always along the line of getting involved by signing a political petition (which probably are good but I’ve gone back and forth on my thoughts over such movements) involving the marriage between a man and a woman but something that makes me get off this computer and physically get involved! I don’t want you to just have me donate money for some cause – I want you to challenge me to be actively involved myself. Please God let the Holy Spirit move me to not be satisfied with the status quo here! In our small group about a month ago we were able to plan a dinner for a medical care center for homeless recovering from the hospital – and I was involved in planning it. But I didn’t feel like that was enough – and I didn’t want to just donate stuff to a homeless shelter. It wasn’t enough – I didn’t sacrifice enough. It took awhile (and prayer) … I just wasn’t sure how or what to do. But one day I finally did – and I just went down to a local park (Monroe Park) and gave some items away and talked to a bunch of homeless for a few hours. We have so much that we really just don’t need (nor use) but others really could use. This is on MY heart. What’s on yours? Can you start to do something to be active on it?

Another quote from that article:

And I believe I am a part of a generation that experiences great confusion over why a church would decide to spend 10,000 dollars on a new spotlight for the sanctuary, when there are hundreds of needs that seem more important right outside the door. I am desperate to be a part of body that will hardly notice if we meet in a shack as long as we are challenged with the words of Christ urging us to “gain what we cannot lose” and to look after the poor, the orphaned and the widowed. I am desperate to engage in tangible warfare as much as spiritual warfare against the evil that is crippling this world, by acknowledging that the truth of Christ and a cup of cold water are stronger tools than any methods I can devise.


One response to ““community” and making it harder to claim “follower of Christ”

  1. Hey, Blogger-friend-like-guy, thanks for the links! 🙂

    I really like that last paragraph and I agree with it 100%. If I have a BIG issue with my current church, it is just that issue. We now have a $1M mortgage for last year’s expansion project (this for a church with ca. 800 members), and just spent $35K on a new A/V system. Sigh.

    And hey, it was before I started blogging, but I went through the same feelings of feeling called to help the poor (still do, still have much more to do), of wanting to do more than plan, meet or “send a check”, and that it took quite a while of circling before I figured out the first place I needed to be (Samaritan Center). Keep praying, keep feeling that way, and things will happen. Maybe even something from an unexpected direction, so don’t forget to pray to God to keep your eyes and ears open for when He DOES push you toward something, so you don’t ignore it or push back (“No, no, Lord – that wasn’t what I was talking about” :-).

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