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wanted: real community! November 20, 2006

Posted by Cobus in Emerging Church.

“The trick is to find a real community, not an insider’s club. Not a group that makes believe it is a community because everybody recites the same creed. But a community where people care enough to give each other permission to be strugglers, who are hanging on to their commitments by their fingernails. A community that cares enough to permit people to fail, helps people dare to reveal their own struggles, including their failures as well as successes.”  This was quoted by Stanley Grenz in Sexual Ethics, from a certain Lewis Smedes, I have no idea who is. This idea has always grabbed my attention since I first read it more than a year ago. Too many times we have done the exact opposite in church. First priority was to get everybody to recite the same creed. Second priority was to get people to accept the same set of morals or ethics. If you don’t understand the creeds, or think differently, it’s best to just recite, and if your morals differ, it’s best to say nothing. And when you fail, you better not come to church, especially not if you failed again and again. You might just get kicked out of the “community”. 

The question is not that easy. Real community is not a relativistic community. It’s a community where you are challenged to live your life in a certain way, Matt 5 – 8. And what Matthew describes in these words, is really extreme! Just go and read it again (And Read The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer if you can get hold of it). But part of this passage is the appeal not to judge (7:1-6). So some kind of radical lifestyle, while somehow learning to accept others who make huge failures, is required. The personal quest I should be on is to live my life according to the way Jesus taught. And as ‘n community we should find a way to help each other on this personal quest, while still keeping in mind that we are all strugglers trying to figure out what exactly Jesus tried, and tries?, to teach us. 

On reciting creeds… maybe just this. What have you gained if you have to force someone to recite something, and force someone who wants to be an insider to be an outsider if (s)he don’t recite? But I believe these questions is at the core of being follower of Christ in community with one another, and this is just some preliminary thoughts. Me trying to bring what I think to the community.


1. Glenn - November 21, 2006

I believe that community is the very core of the identity of the church. Yet, sometimes, it seems like an unattainable aspiration. Oft times churches are not as good at developing community, as are pubs or our work places. Sometimes churches are like country clubs… proud organizations of proud people with an impenetrable inner circle that has a superficial code of acceptance which values its members for what they bring to the cause of the organization.

When we experience true community, we tend to try to keep it for ourselves rather than let it be tested, stretched, and enriched by keeping it open to others.

If the church is to be effective, it must be a diverse community of love that wows those who experience it

Doesn’t true community begin with one unselfish person who wants to be like Christ?

2. Coops - November 22, 2006

“The trick is to find a real community, not an insider’s club.”

You just summed up months of trying to find a church home

3. Roger Saner - November 23, 2006

Hey, any luck there Coops? I’m about to leave denominational church and head to…well, I don’t know what yet. Could be interesting!

4. Community: The Elusive Dream… « re-dreaming the dream - November 28, 2006

[…] Also on Cobus’s blog here   […]

5. Coops - December 5, 2006

Roger: two things I learned:
1. Church is not perfect, it’s a family, so learn to love the people
2. You will never find a home until you are willing to become a part of that family

It’s a tough one for me, because I have trouble refusing to accept the failings of the church family, and still become a part of it.

Oh, God rid me of my self-righteousness!

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