Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Creating Community

Seems I can't get "community" outta my mind at the moment. Maybe because of Doug Pagitt's book on the Solomon's Porch community which I'm reading at the moment (see my last post, below), maybe because of Africa, maybe because community is something I have been attempting (really, struggling) to create here in my neighbourhood for the best part of the last 3 years without much success.

One of the keys to community, as I see it, is appealing to peoples inbuilt sense of wanting or needing to belong. Of creating a place where people can feel secure and safe and can feel free to, generally, be themselves. This I think is where I'm failing. You see, everything we are doing seems to be reliant upon invitations and reminders. Lyss and I are always inviting people to share a meal with us, or to go to the pub with us. Or we are always inviting and reminding people about our Alternate[Or] gathering. If we don't remind or invite, nothing happens. People are not actively pursuing involvement with us or the things we are about.

This morning, chewing over all of this, I am struck by the thought that what we have, while it is community in a sense, may not really be that thing called "genuine" community. If people have to be constantly reminded and invited in order to participate then something must be missing. Real community (whatever that is) should be something that people want to participate in, look forward to and eagerly involve themselves in.

I feel that if Lyss and I stopped today, nothing more would happen. We would go back to spending Friday and Saturday nights on our own.

I recently read Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. He talks about the way in which, on the very first day his new Mars Hill Bible Church met and without any promotion, they had more than 3000 people turn up! And to read about the way in which the Solomon's Porch guys are doing what they are doing and seeing things change and develop and grow, while inspiring me in many ways, at least today, is also depressing me.

If I can be so bold as to ask - if anyone is even reading this - please pray for us. Pray that we (Lyss and I) can be a part of a community where we can feel like we belong, created by our Creator and not by us and where others can come and feel the same. Please pray that we can find others who feel and think the way we think and want to play a role in building God's kingdom in this neighbourhood.

7 comments:

revolution said...

in any community, there are leaders and followers. always. leaders are the ones who invite and remind. always. i'm not just talking about church, but any social commmunity.

people like rob bell, andy stanley, joel osteen, and ed young were "given" their congregations by either their literal parents or their parent congregations.

some pastors, like mark driscoll, actually built their congregation up from nothing, with nothing, the hard way.

be sure to find out the background of these "super pastors" before you let it depress you.

i was the equivalent of van wilder in college - tons of friends, parties, influence, etc.

i've since realized that i can use that same strategy in ministry without the drunkenness and debauchery. its as simple as inviting and reminding - just like you.

REVOLUTION

The Creature said...

Thanks for the comments Rev!

I hope you're right, but I still wonder, does there ever come a time when the "reminding and inviting" eases up and people just start getting involved cause they really want to?

I hope so!

:)

Michael Krahn said...

Hey,

I just finished writing a series on Rob's book "Velvet Elvis" that I think you'd be interested in. One of the things I appreciated about the book was Rob's focus on community.

What 'living in community' means is still a work in progress for me.

Anyway, read and join in on the discussion at:

http://michaelkrahn.wordpress.com/rob-bell/

Michael Krahn

james said...

Maybe the very problem IS that one of the keys to community is "wanting or needing to belong". I don't really see people expressing their need to belong, because it's not attractive to be needy.

I don't know much about Solomon's Porch, but showing up on the first day Mars Hill Bible Church opened its doors was probably more about hype than anything else, and I would guess that less than 25% of those who first came still go there.

The type of community that you are talking about doesn't happen on Sundays at MHBC either; it happens behind closed doors during the week, and who knows the struggles they deal with in continuing to strive towards neediness.

Its hard to be needy when not only do you have everything (you think) you need, you have everything (you think) you want. Neediness should be the new discipline of our age.

The Creature said...

Thanks for all your comments and sorry I didn't get to reply sooner. Just got back from my trip and didn't have easy net access while away.

I will definitely check out your series Michael - it sounds interesting. And I would like to hear more about the discipline of neediness James.

I hadn't thought about belonging and neediness as being the same thing - and I wonder if they really are?

I think that you can want to belong without being needy - at least without being needy in a "leechy" or "seductive" (like a vampire!) kind of way.

upstream said...

We have had some similar experiences, seeing that people often join together when they feel a need, eg were new to the suburb, but once they are settled they then retreat to the bunker of home and family only occasionally emerging.

It could also be that they don't like us :) and don't want to be around us - but I do tend to think it is the busyness of life and the standard individiualism of western society that makes it so difficult for us to foster community.

Even those who seek community do so when they are 'available'. I think much of it comes down to community rating as a lower priority than making $$$ and that is probably true for Christians and non Christians (sadly)

The Creature said...

Hey Upstream,

I think you're probably right about the "individualism" side of things.

It's difficult to know exactly how to crack this, and particularly hard with adults who have lived their whole life this way, whether they come from a Christian background or not.

Sometimes I think it really does need something pretty major to happen in their world for things to change. Perhaps this is why there is such a sense of community in the African conflict/post-conflict zones I visit? They require it in order to survive.

I hope though that we can instill a something different in our children and young people - a different way of looking at things. But I guess that is another challenge.