The Quest for Community

Someday I will hold up my Bible before a congregation, shake it, and yell at the top of my lungs, “This is not a book about propositions and programs and principles. This is a book about relationships.”

The church, not Hollywood, ought to be the world’s greatest image factory. The greatest image in the world, the image that draws people into real, life-giving relationship, is the image of God in Jesus the Christ.

I want my community

One of the favorite words used in the context of the Web is “community.” eBay is in the business of building communities, they say; theirs is less an information source than a social medium.

The paradox is this: the pursuit of individualism has led us to this place of hunger for community, not of blood or nation but communities of choice.

More than buying and selling, the electronic emporium is about posting messages on bulletin boards, discovering new friends, and launching relationships at the eBay Cafe. One user said, “eBay is bringing people together to do a lot more than trading goods. We are trading our hearts.”

Don’t laugh.

eBay may just be the closest experience of small-town America available to postmoderns. Where else can they find people with similar interests (whale oil lamps, in my case)? Where else can they be drawn into community around a single purpose? Where else can they tell the stories most central to who they are and find people eager to hear them? Where else can they participate so fully and have their lives changed by the experience?

Nowhere else.

Except, perhaps, the church.

And isn’t that what the gospel is all about?

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Leonard Sweet

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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