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Reaching

Thoughts on community

Lots of time on the Eastside and with old friends this weekend. Friday night we went for dinner with the Dodrills and Karl, who's in town for the Dawg Dash today. Yesterday's event was a ceremony/reception for Megan and Emmanuel, who married back in March. We had a good time at both, and both stirred our thinking about what community looks like. That pot has been bubbling for some time, and the heat turned up (in a good way) at our church retreat last weekend.

The word "community" is terribly popular and even fashionable, but the spread of meanings (or lack thereof) under that umbrella is vast. For us, it's about really letting people in, as well as sharing a purpose outside ourselves. We don't find community compelling for its own sake—it exists to encourage us onward, and its comforts are offered as salve for the wounds of shared battles. If mutual distraction is all we have to give one another, that's a poor substitute for true community. And if we only let others in when we (think we) have it all together, we are never truly in community at all.

None of this is to suggest that community is a stoic enterprise—I fear for any community that isn't characterized by peals of heartfelt laughter. But community itself is serious business, not just another diversion to combat boredom or make ourselves feel good. We believe community is at its best when it is an effect of common purpose and love rather than an end unto itself (which can easily be little more than externalized narcissism). That said, it doesn't grow untended, and we want to learn to be good stewards of what God is entrusting to us.

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