Questions on Community

The idea and the word community has become sort of a buzz word in my life in the past year or two lately. Everything is about building community and I want to have meaningful community; not just a place to show up on Sunday. In fact the best way to evangelism is in community and the church’s mission should exist within a community. It’s been used so much I reacted against it, like I always do to that which is overused in my life. Now there are a few ideas of community that I’m struggling with.

For starters, can or does a community exist if it is one person giving and giving and a few others taking and taking. For instance, can an emotional stable person be in community with emotional needy people; where everything that happens is one way. Is that a community? Is that demeaning to assume that a certain type of person can’t ‘give’ anything of value to a community? There are all kinds of people that I think of in my head who I think that when I’m around them that means I’m giving and serving lots and they are receiving and being served the entire time. Can a community exist with that ideal? You all know who I’m talking about. Is that called a community, or is that just called something else? Can a community exist one-sided? Or does that defeat the whole idea of it? If I see it as one-sided, am I deceiving myself into thinking that certain people have nothing to give?

Also, what defines commitment to a community? Is it money? Attendance? Or is it simple being there for someone else? Or is it just a group of friends? If you have a member that is slower or disabled in your group, what sort of role do they play in the community? How important should community be in your decisions? How much sway should the community have in a leader’s decision? My mind is racing with these sorts of questions in trying to figure out how community fits into the whole gospel message. I’m not even sure where to go with the thoughts; I just know I’m really trying to work them out and how they will play out in theStory. Any advice?

I’m heading to The Heart of Canadian Free Methodism class tomorrow at 5am with Joe, maybe they can help me with some answers. Hopefully I’ll have some internet access there and be able to post a bit and respond. If not, I won’t complain about the break.

2 Comments

  • Fascinating questions Nathan. I wonder how to define what it is the strong ‘give’ to the weak (or the ‘full’ to the ‘needy’)? What is the nature of that exchange? Is me learning to cope with my feeling of anger (or whatever) at being used a contribution to the overall health of the community? The corollary is how does the community help the needy one to guard against selfishness?

    I wonder too whether there is something in the experience of the L’Arche Communities that would have some light to throw?

  • Good community is when your playing settlers and everyone teams up to keep the point leader at bay.

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