Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cry for Community

The need for Christian community is greatest in modern cities, where migration and urbanisation have broken down traditional community relationships. Social mobility prevents stable relationships from developing and family life is breaking down. People feel like cogs in a machine and life is characterised by loneliness and personal insecurity. In this bleak environment, people are crying out for real community.

Unfortunately, most people do not see the modern church as an answer to their heart’s cry. It is seen as another institution that meets personal needs with programmes run by professionals.

A Church doing the one another stuff should be really attractive to those who are crushed and alienated by the impersonality of our modern world. Love will draw people into their community.

The church has a long experience with community, but it has generally been out of the reach of most Christians. A Christian community that is only open to an elite, or requires retreat from society, is irrelevant in the modern world. We need to bring community life down to earth, so it can function in a modern city.

  • Each Church should be a Christian community. Community lifestyle will be normal for all Christians, not an optional extra for superstars and misfits.

  • These communities can function in any city with whatever housing is available. Special buildings are not required and there is no need to move to the country.

  • No money or assets are handed over to the Church. This eliminates a problem that has troubled many Christian communities.

  • Community lifestyle will be open to everyone, regardless of their personal circumstances. Anyone will fit, provided they are committed to living the Christian lifestyle in relationship with the rest of the Church.

  • Christians can live as part of a community while continuing with their existing work and interest activities.

  • People will be free to choose their level of commitment and what they want to share.

  • People can change their level of commitment according to their stage of life. Young single people may get really involved in community and sharing. Couples with younger children may need to withdraw slightly.

  • If something goes wrong with the community, people can escape by moving to another house or “walking away” from the Church. This provides protection from the domination or control that has destroyed many Christian communities.

True community can be built in city. I can see a city that is made up of a large number of Churches that are also small communities. Each community will involve of all the Christians living in a neighbourhood or apartment building. Love for Jesus will unite them together.

Christians should be leading the way and creating residential dwellings that will support a communal lifestyle. These should use resources efficiently, so that housing becomes affordable for everyone. Ironically, the only community-style housing developed by modern property developers are retirement villages for people that are “finished living”, and gated communities for those who are “scared of living”.

Community should not be a primary goal for Christians. Our goal is to live in total obedience to Jesus in fellowship with other Christians; community should be an unintentional by-product. The first Christians did not decide to live in community. By surrendering to Jesus and committing to fellowship they became a community by default.
A Church is a community of people living in the same locality and caring for each other within strong relationships.
This full series of posts can be found at Radical Lifestyle Church.

Much of this material comes from my book Being Church Where We Live.

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