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We do not HAVE community because we do not think we NEED community?

Posted by on Feb 8, 2012 in blog links, community | 14 comments

We do not HAVE community because we do not think we NEED community?

Arthur at “The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia” has written an excellent post about community called “Compulsory Community.”

The point of Arthur’s post seems to be that we do not live in community with one another because we do not think we need community with one another, that is, we do not think we actually need one another.

He begins by talking about the church in areas of the world where believers are truly persecuted because of their faith in Jesus Christ. The brothers and sisters depend on one another for their livelihood as well as for their lives.

But, we don’t face that same situation in the west. So, we do not rely on one another, and we do not think we need one another. Because of that, we readily separate from one another based on our preferences. He suggests that persecution is in the future for the church in America (and the West), and that we will then learn the necessity of community.

Arthur concludes with this:

We are not really in community with one another when our “community” is based on a voluntary association that caters to our preferences that we call “church”. I am quite certain that the culture my children will find themselves in will be very different than what I know and have experienced. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the future of the church, the actual church and not organized religion, in America is going to be far more difficult but far healthier in the years to come. The “visible church” in the West is way overdue for a winnowing and that day is coming soon. When it does, it will be the community of Christ that will be revealed amidst the persecution and an unmistakable witness will finally be visible. God grant us the strength to face those days without the crutch and hiding place of organized, culturally acceptable religion and instead finds us relying solely on Christ and the community He has created.

Do you think that we need community with one another? If so, is there a way that we can understand that necessity in our current situation or will we only understand it when we are persecuted?


14 Comments

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  1. 2-8-2012

    I believe that we definitely need community now, and will need it much more in the future. Unfortunately, I have only found a few folks who see that need too. Most seem to be content with shallow relationships with one another.

  2. 2-8-2012

    Fred, there is the crux of the problem. We hear lots of talk about community but the sad reality is that most church-goers are perfectly content with the sort of superificial community in name alone that you describe. We simply will never have any semblance of community when our own preferences and tastes trump our need to depend on one another.

  3. 2-8-2012

    Once again, great post. Arthur is right on the money. I never realized this until my own personal contact with the persecuted church. It is what changed my life. Because of it I am now the Voice of the Martyrs representative in Tucson, AZ. It is something I often feel inadequate to be. I also posted at Simple Church Journal for the post on “What is hindering the church in the west today?” Basically, my response, was that there is no persecution in the church today. The comfortable way of life we have today is what is hindering the walk of us in the church. My wife and I were at a Voice of the Martyrs conference in 2010, and one of the speakers, who escaped persecution, stated the church in the west needed persecution. It was at this point when we would see the true church shine through. My prayer has often been that I would be able to stand strong in this time. I am afraid I, nor do most people, really know how true our faith in Jesus Christ really is until persecution comes.

    Richard Wurmbrand wrote on this in “The Triumphant Church”; the time to prepare for persecution is now. He said at the time of persecution is not the time to start preparing, now is the time so when it comes you can stand up through it. Do I prepare for persecution now? Do I prepare in my prayer life, in my appetites, my consumption, my everyday “freedoms?”

    Personally I don’t think the American society understands community like it used to. Many church goers, as a product of this society, do not understand it either then. I have given people a simple analogy over the years, one that is certainly easy to see here in AZ, and to an extent in the suburbs in NY where I was raised. When I go back home and go to the old parts of the city or go to the old parts of the city here in AZ, (and you can do this too), notice all the homes with front porches. Now go to the suburbs, or master planned communities, and notice all the homes with block wall, big back yards and no front porches. My parents (probably yours too) grew up in a time when people lived on the front porches and were a neighborhood; everyone was together as a community. Now you’re lucky if you know your neighbor across the street.

    Much of what is said in this post today is right on!

  4. 2-8-2012

    Alan, excellent post about a genuine issue that has numerous contributing factors. For example, the traditional institutional model of Church has, for the most part, replaced “community” with “congregation”. But the reality is that genuine community (genuine “koinonia”) simply cannot take place among a congregation of 200+ people. The standard answer then is “small groups”. But for those individuals willing to participate, the small group becomes either a social gathering or a meeting to review the pastor’s sermon (always a crowd pleaser). The reality is that “small groups” simply do not work for any clear biblical purpose, including building “community” (the notable exceptions do not invalidate this reality). In short, a congregational paradigm of church will NOT produce community.

    Then consider the lack of perceived need (i.e., absence of persecution, crisis or other external factors) that forces people to seek help and rely upon others. Factor in the independence of the American mindset and “community” quickly takes a back seat to independence and lifestyle.

    Finally, (although there are many others), when was the last time you or your readers experienced a detailed look at the “one anothers” of the New Testament. There are between 30 and 35 instances of “one another” in the NT. Things like love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, bear one another’s burdens, forebear with one another (i.e., “put up with” one another), and many others. These are not “suggestions for your best life now” but commands as to how the body (community) is to behave toward itself. And yet, how many of us are part of a body in which we are actively pursuing these commands in our relationships?

    As an active organic house church practitioner and advocate I find that even house churches (the supposedly ideal “community” environment) struggle with achieving and practicing such community.

    Just my thoughts. Blessings, Maurice

  5. 2-8-2012

    I think we have community with one another and we see the reality of that the more we look to Christ as our source of life and unity. As long as we are looking toward services, doctrines, and programs as our source of life and unity then those will be the only places it will be found. Then, it isn’t community, it is a clique.

  6. 2-8-2012

    I do not see it as cut and dry as we choose what we like because we do not know what we need.

    What I am seeing right now is how odd people are. How their natural behaviors attract and repel.

    People are also playing out what they have experienced.

    I can agree that the modern day church of the west does not know what it is missing. I think once people have true community they crave it and even seek to recreate it.

    It will take leaders to bring it to the masses. It does not have to be persecution.

  7. 2-9-2012

    Fred,

    Have you found any way to help people understand how much we need each other?

    Arthur,

    Have you found any way to help people move beyond living according to their own preferences?

    Vincent,

    I’m praying and hoping that we can continue to grow in community in Christ with one another without suffering persecution. Like you said, I also think it was once more common in America, even without persecution.

    Maurice,

    I agree. The location of meeting (house or large building) does not guarantee the presence or absence of community, although the environment can be a contributing factor in either hindering or fostering community.

    Bobby,

    I think you’re right. The more we look to Christ, the more we also see our need for one another. On the other hand, if we are not living in community with one another, it may be a good indication that we are not actually looking to Christ.

    ToscaSac,

    You said, “[O]nce people have true community they crave it and even seek to recreate it.” That’s an interesting point. So, how do we help people HAVE true community if they do not already want it?

    -Alan

  8. 2-9-2012

    Maurice,

    Excellent post. I am going to look at the “one anothers” and use it for a study. Your post really opened my eyes.

    ToscaSac, Alan,

    I am certainly not hoping for persecution. Again, I pray how I would stand up under persecution if we faced it. I found it interesting at the VOM conference of several of the speakers who survived persecution had this perspective of what they saw lacking in the western church. They certainly weren’t advocating for it either, just a perspective they were bringing. They seemed to speak of persecution, in some way, as a blessing and one that fosters true growth. I’ve never had this perspective. In fact I think many would suddenly shrink from the notion of persecution. However, Wurmbrand certainly seems to argue we should do all we can to foster freedoms that allow Christianity to flourish and to argue for the blessing persecution can be and we need not shrink back from it if we’re faced with it.

    Arthur stated “The “visible church” in the West is way overdue for a winnowing and that day is coming soon. When it does, it will be the community of Christ that will be revealed amidst the persecution and an unmistakable witness will finally be visible.”

    We need to take the opportunities we have now to foster true genuine communities and alertness and not use it as a time to slumber and sleep.

  9. 2-9-2012

    Vincent, I absolutely agree. The problem is that very few others even see our lack of community as an issue at all. It seems that I spend a lot of my time beating my head against the proverbial wall on this issue.

  10. 2-10-2012

    Vincent,

    You said, “We need to take the opportunities we have now to foster true genuine communities and alertness and not use it as a time to slumber and sleep.” Yes! I agree. In fact, I think that was Jesus’ response whenever anyone asked him about the end times…

    Arthur,

    “beating my head against the proverbial wall…” Yeah, I’ve done that. I’m learning to offer people opportunities to share my life, but not get bent out of shape when they refuse. (Of course, I’m not saying that I’m perfect in this. I often turn people away also.)

    -Alan

  11. 2-10-2012

    Alan, I’m still looking for ways to get the point across to people. My wife and I have just gone through a horrible time with a person with whom we thought we had real community. After pouring our lives into this person for a year, she has now completely turned against us. So, I have no idea other than to just ask God to send folks our way and try to just let community happen as it happens. I’m not sure most folks are going to get it until they are forced to.

  12. 2-11-2012

    Fred,

    I know. It’s really tough. The only pattern that I know is that there is no pattern. I agree: “I have no idea other than to just ask God to send folks our way and try to just let community happen as it happens.”

    -Alan

  13. 2-11-2012

    I have battled deep with this. The superficial relatuonships make going to traditional church hard. I don’t desire to go and ehen I explain the superficial-ness ppl get upset and, at times, angry because I am going against church as a whole. It’s not that, it’s not even a personal issue with the people but the lack of real-ness. I find more unbelievers having deeper more meaningful relationships with me than those those call thrmselves “the church”.

  14. 2-13-2012

    JRo,

    I think you’ve expressed the frustrations that alot of people have with church. I’m praying that God brings some of these frustrated people together and gives them all the courage to share their frustrations and their lives with one another.

    -Alan