the weblog of Alan Knox

When "community" hinders community

Posted by on Jun 4, 2008 in community, synchroblog | 2 comments

This is my second post in the “Community” synchroblog that is taking place this week. My first post was called “Community is unnatural today“. Glenn at “re-dreaming the dream” organized this synchroblog. Posts will be added to this synchroblog throughout this week by various individuals. If you’d like to take part in this synchroblog, write your post and leave a comment with a link on Glenn’s latest synchroblog info post called “Community Synchroblog“.

Community is simply a group of people connected by some common bond. It is possible to relate to other people as community based on many different things: location, vocation, hobby, age, children, school, etc. Within the church, it is popular to build community based on meeting location, rules, doctrines, and human leadership. However, these types of commonality are not the foundation for the community that God is building.

Instead, God builds his community (perhaps a better translation of “ekklesia”) on the person of Jesus Christ and the common fellowship that his children have with him through the Holy Spirit. The community that God builds begins with a relationship with God himself through Jesus Christ and the Spirit. But, community doesn’t end there. God continues to build that community through relationships with one another. In fact, you could say that these interrelationships are the outward signs that God is building community. But, it must begin with God himself – both his work and our relationship with him. Finally, God’s community does not end with interrelationship among his children. Instead, God’s community reaches outside itself and welcomes those who are not yet part of the community.

The outward-looking and outward-loving aspect is perhaps one of the most peculiar aspects of the community that God builds. In almost every other case, community because a boundary, both for keeping people in and for keeping people out. When community is not based on loving God, loving each other, and loving others, then the community quickly becomes isolated and independent – the opposite of God’s community.

But, what happens when God’s children decide to build their own community based on meeting location, rules, doctrines, or human leadership? Again, the community turns inward and becomes more about who is outside of the community than welcoming people into the community. Differences and disagreements and struggles, even among those who are brothers and sisters in Christ, become justification for not welcoming or accepting someone into the community. The “community” ends up hurting and isolating themselves from the very people that should help them form the community.

Thus, it is possible to build a “community” – a true community in every aspect of the word – that hinders the community that God desires to build – a community that is centered on Jesus Christ and a common love for God, each other, and others. In fact, I believe that many who write of loving Jesus but not the church, or who write of being hurt by the church, or who write of being disillusioned by the church, are living the after effects of a community that is based in something other than Jesus Christ – the type of “community” that expels easier than it welcomes.

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Read the following posts in this synchroblog to see what other people are saying about “Community” this week. I’ll add links as more posts are published throughout the week:

Community: The Dilemma” by Glenn
Community: A Synchroblog” by Jason
Thoughts on Building Authentic Christian Community” by Jeff
Community is unnatural today” by Alan
When ‘community’ hinders community” by Alan
Why we don’t like grace” by Jonathan
Equality is an action word” by Kathy
Authentic Community, Meaningful Ministry – Moving Forward” by Gary


2 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-4-2008

    Alan ~ This explains why so any attempts fail and do not prevail. Good insights.

  2. 6-4-2008

    Glenn,

    I think we attempt to build community on many good things that are not Jesus Christ. The only community that God desires is the one built on our mutual existence in Jesus Christ.

    -Alan