BZZZZZZZT!! Buzz Word Alert!!
Community. I hate the word ‘community’ as much as, possibly more, than I hate the words ‘relevant’, ‘post-modern’, ‘culture’ and ‘low-fat’. People in the American christian sub-culture throw it around a lot, as if it’s some new fad sweeping the church… like Bieber hair and v-neck graphic tees. Before I get hate mail and nasty comments accusing me being ‘irrelevant’, understand that I am not against community, I am against the false and completely naive ideas we have of it and impose on our churches.
Community is not a church program. It cannot be planned or forced. Putting a bunch of random people together in close quarters to “do life together” doesn’t create community, it’s a recipe for conflict like a bad reality show and it’s only a matter of time before people start getting voted off the island. I’ve spent the past few years living in “intentional community” by living in large houses rented by a handful of guys who’s only real connection was that we all needed a place to stay… and it’s always been a disaster.
Community is what happens when people naturally coagulate like cells, pulled together from the crowd by whatever unites them, whatever it is that creates the glue, the medium through which they communicate and share life. Forcing someone into such a situation, who doesn’t share the particular trait of the community, is like adding a cancer… it’s not a question of the group being accepting as much as the individual being in the right group… try adding a known gossip to your smallgroup, how quickly will the trust and communication, the community, fall apart? How well would a support group for addicts work with a police officer sitting in the circle?
Maybe we’re talking about different levels of community.. There are good Christian people I know, love and respect as brothers and sisters in Christ, but I wouldn’t want to hang out with them. We’re family in Christ, but we aren’t really friends… Even within a large group such as a church there are cliques, little communities of people who are different from one another and extremely exclusive, either by intention or simply by definition… musicians hang out with musicians, teachers hang out with teachers, old folks hang out with old folks and kids hang out with kids.
We understand these divisions on this small scale, why is it so hard to realize that they simply don’t translate to the large scale? Your little community or clique is not The Church, no matter who you are, or how important you think your little group is. We need to stop telling people to live in community (when what we mean is that they need to conform to the group). People don’t need to be told to do this, they need to be allowed to do it on their own. Community is not intentional. It cannot be forced, planned or arranged. Some people will simply never fit into pre-arranged groups.. and the arrangers of these groups will simply never fit into the other groups.
The Church is a large scale community that doesn’t work on the small scale, in real life. The people I relate to, and enjoy sharing life with aren’t the ones I’m told to relate to, the ones that simply fall within my demographic.
Community is the end result of real life, not programming. Forced community can become toxic for both the group and the ones the group rejects… Jesus had thousands of followers, but the community he lived within was only 12 other men.
…I admit this post/idea is incomplete, but I think it’s a recent trend (a HUGE and influential trend) that needs to be reexamined before The Church, like our ‘communities’ becomes another clique, no more potent and an Elks Lodge or a Rotary Club…