Last week, Eric from “A Pilgrim’s Progress” suggested that (at least) knowing one another’s name is “A Good Test of Community.” Of course, Eric is right. You can’t be a community if you are strangers.
As a follow-up, in my post “Community Checklist,” I asked what else (besides knowing one another’s name) should be present in a group of people that are a community.
In this short series, I’d like to consider this last question: What characteristics describe a group or people that are living as a community?
This list will not be exhaustive, but I believe it will be necessary. What I mean is that, besides the things that I list, other characteristics or practices may be necessary for a group to live in community, especially in a given context. However, I also believe that the things that I’m going to discuss also must be necessary. For each characteristic I will explain why I think that characteristic is necessary.
Before I begin listing these “ingredients,” I need to define what I mean by “community.” For this series, I’m going to use the following definition: A community is a group of people that have something in common. However, I’m going to limit my definition to the description of the church as described in Scripture. Thus, we are looking for “community” as we see in the church in the New Testament.
Yes, there are negative descriptions of the church in the New Testament. But, the authors of Scripture make it clear that in these particular instances, the church is not living with one another as they should. In those cases, the authors point out what is wrong, and they attempt to help the church change so that they are living in community as they should.
So, what are some of the characteristics of the believers who are described as living in community with one another by the authors in Scripture? In this series, I will attempt to identify some of the most important characteristics (“ingredients”) of a church that is living in community with one another.