by: Scott Bakken
Community: the big buzz word spoken and shared in every major campaign, coffee shop and social media platform. Google has declared this as generation C. One of those ‘C’s” stands for you guessed it, community. However, we need to actually ask ourselves ‘why community’ and for what purpose.
Community is actually a God idea. It's clear that everywhere Jesus went, He was engaging people in the greater story. At times it was a crowd of 5000, tired and hungry. Other times it was a single person, such as the women caught in adultery, expecting nothing but to be an outcast. No matter the size of the crowd, Jesus was always inviting people to be apart of community, to be known and involved. Tax collectors are never thought very highly of, yet when Jesus saw Zacchaeus ( a tax collector), He invited Himself over for dinner. Jesus wanted to bring the isolated and rejected into community. Anything that isolates or excommunicates people is opposite to the very concept of true community.
The other night, the team of Socality Calgary hosted a community dinner for the very first time. We invited people casually and very last minute We gathered around the table with great food and over the course of the night stories were shared. As the evening went on, people broke into groups and deeper conversations took place. I was amazed to hear the story of Hayley. Hayley had moved here from South Africa and was praying that she would find a place to call home. God spoke to her that He would connect the dots. Two days later she found herself at Socality Live (which was actually hosted across the street from where she lived). Since then, Hayley has developed friendships with others in the community and says she has found her home. She has even started inviting others along. This got me thinking about community as it relates to the very purposes and goals of Socality.
Here are some thoughts on community
True Community is for Purpose
Jesus brings people together so they can fulfill His will. Jesus was constantly drawing crowds and when the crowd gathered, He would use these opportunities to inspire and teach on the way to live. There was purpose to these gatherings. He was constantly connecting with others and calling them to be apart of community development. Jesus asked Peter in John 21: 17, ‘Do you love me”? Peter replied, “ You know that I love you’. Jesus response was ‘Feed my sheep’. The action of helping another is a complete expression of our love for God. They will know we are His disciples by our love. Love demands action and a response. True community will place purpose around our gatherings and mobilize us into serving others.
True Community Keeps us in Right Relationships
If we look at the last supper, we see Jesus share a meal with His disciples. It was here that Jesus introduced the idea of communion. He said, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me’. True gatherings that are Christ centered will bring people into relationship. It is pleasing to God when people unite around the very purposes of God. Sharing a meal with someone is a very personal thing and something you usually do with friends or when you are first getting to know someone. It's very uncomfortable to eat with an enemy. Yet, forgiveness is another God idea. True community harnesses spaces that encourage forgiveness and encourages people to walk together in right relationship and sincerity. True and authentic community never promotes division or separation, but rather forgiveness and unity.
True Community Gathers the Lost
Every space we create must allow for those who have not yet encountered Jesus into a space of belonging. Over time sub cultures have been formed in our Christian cultures and they have created clicks and clichés. Jesus said that He came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). This is was His focus and it should be ours. This doesn’t mean bashing people over the head with the Bible, but rather learning to be the hands and feet of Jesus and meeting needs of others in a real and practical way. When we create communities that are internally focused, dramas and tensions rise and this atmosphere breed’s gossip and backbiting. True community will always be outward focused, taking the attention off ourselves. It will cause us to grow big enough to learn to not only reach others, but also allowing others to be truly loved and find a place of complete belonging.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. Does my community encourage social change or are we just hanging out?
2. Are the main conversations I have when I’m with friends based around gossip or an idea to help others?
3. Is there someone I need to forgive and what steps do I need to make this happen?
We would love to hear from you! Share stories of how you are making a difference in your community. Send photos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and subject these ‘My community story’.