Very challenging stuff today on the true cost of community. It's a price I often struggle to pay, but one that I long that we'd all be willing to pay, not only for our own benefit but for all the people 'out there' looking for a genuine, authentic, loving community they can be part of where they'll encounter a God who loves them. Even a brief look at some of the comments on the blog, the personal stories shared on Sunday night and stories I've heard this week convince me we're well on the way to being that sort of community - not a refuge from the world but a refuge for the world.
If you want to think about this in more depth can I recommend the book "No Perfect People Allowed" by John Burke which I recently gave to all our leaders and has changed my thinking on what genuine community looks like, and what it can achieve if we can really build it. The amazon.com review is here (no reviews on amazon.co.uk), although obviously you'll want to get it from The Kerith Centre bookshop on Sunday!
Have a great day, and keep those comments coming.
Community requires commitment!
“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” James 3:18 (Msg)
Cultivating community takes honesty. Real fellowship depends on frankness. In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other.
Cultivating community takes humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.
Cultivating community takes courtesy. The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: We’re family.
Cultivating community takes confidentiality. Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality will people open up and share their deepest hurts, needs, and mistakes. Confidentiality does not mean keeping silent while your brother or sister sins. It means that what is shared in your group needs to stay in your group, and the group needs to deal with it, not gossip to others about it.
Cultivating community takes frequency. You must have frequent, regular contact with your group in order to build genuine fellowship. Relationships take time.
When you look at the list of characteristics, it is obvious why genuine fellowship is so rare. But the benefits of sharing life together far outweigh the costs, and it prepares us for heaven.