10 Ways to Avoid Building Community Within Church

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Regrettably, I think at different times I’ve been guilty of every single item on this list. Are you holding back community?

  1. Keep Conversations Short
  2. Always sit in your “assigned” seat
  3. Avoid New People
  4. Come in Late
  5. Leave immediately after the service (or early)
  6. Be physically present but mentally absent
  7. Don’t share a meal
  8. Stay very, very busy
  9. Make your default response “everything is great”
  10. Don’t show up

See Adam’s commentary and explanation of these at 10 Ways to Avoid Building Community Within the Church.

Maybe the vicar above could learn a lesson or two about building koinonia 😉

10 thoughts on “10 Ways to Avoid Building Community Within Church

  1. The perspective in Southern Africa is, I would think, generally different, and a (brief) fairly typical reflection of what I mean may be viewed here: http://thomasscarborough.blogspot.com/2009/01/task-and-community.html. Terms for “community” are, I would think, rare in the New Testament, too (any comment would surely be interesting). I hesitate to say this in response to a post on “community”, but as a minister of a thriving urban Church, speaking from our own context, I would think that any special emphasis on “community” would be counter-productive.

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  2. Thanks Thomas, I really appreciate you perspective on this.
    I was interested to read these comments on your blog:
    “I had the sense, in 2008 (I didn’t put this in my message), that our emphasis shifted a little too far towards “community”. I consider that this is not healthy. Community is a by-product in the Church, and fails as a focus.”
    I’d certainly agree that, in my church experiences at least, there is often an intentional focus on ‘community’ without really unpacking what we mean by this. I’d like to hear more of what you mean by community being the ‘by-product’ of the church though.
    If we can accept that, broadly speaking, what we describe as ‘community’ is aiming at what Paul meant by koinonia, then we need to evaluate our idea of community in the light of the way Paul talks of it. Koinonia seems to be Paul’s preferred phrase when speaking of the life of the Christian community. He frequently connects the term with the supplying of needs, whether physical (Rom 12:13; Gal 6:6; Phil 1:5; 4:14f.) or spiritual (Rom 15:27; cf. 1 Cor 9:11ff, 23; 2 Cor 1:5ff; Phil 1:7.) within the Christian community. It seems to me that any time we begin to talk of ‘community’ in a way that is divorced from practical expressions of agape amongst believers, then we’re probably going slightly off track.
    In this sense then, I guess I struggle with any perspective that separates our ‘task’ from the idea of church being a ‘community’ because I see Paul’s focus as being on creating and sustaining Messiah-centred communities that would model what God’s kingdom looked like here on earth. Paul seems to have spent a lot of his time on very practical matters (see my post on the collection for example), precisely because this was intrinsically connected to his ideas of what ‘church’ was intended to achieve and demonstrate as one family and the bride of Christ.
    I’d be really interested to hear more on your perspective…

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  3. BTW, matybigfro is, of course, right to point out that the list given in the post is ‘Sunday morning’ focussed. Of course community cannot be built merely through a Sunday morning meeting. It can, however, serve as a useful barometer of whether ‘true community’ (whatever that is) is really taking place.
    Whilst community is clearly so much more than this, I certainly don’t think that it is less than it either (although I know many, particularly from a cell church background, may well take issue with me on that.)

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  4. Thank you, Sam, your responses are very interesting, for the reason that we have some originality and substance here. If I find the opportunity, I’ll come back to this.

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  5. I’ve found it interesting to see some very young churches which when started reconfigured their central gathering to give community greater importance or central purpose, often find them selves starting smaller groups or peripheral meetings to deal with teaching, prayer, worship or the others. Much like how in traditional churches where teaching, worship or the sacraments are the central focus of the regular gathering there are often special events or small groups to encourage and grow community.
    In a sense often starting off trying so desperatly to be different they often become remarkably similar yet still beautifully diverse

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  6. Man, it takes a lot for me to laugh at British comedy!
    I’d add another one: Define the word “church” to mean “a once a week 1-2 hour gathering” instead of “the people whom Jesus Christ died for in order to reconcile them to the Father and to each other in community now and forever!”

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  7. The following link offers some interesting perspectives: What to do if people don’t want community?.
    The point to “Make it an issue of obedience and an issue of grace” makes me react a bit – quite an assumption that it is ‘obviously’ the biblical standpoint. Whilst I’d agree that it is right to be building community in church, the postmodern side of me often reacts to statements that assume it is the only way of reading scripture…

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  8. there’s a couple of great stories by Francis chan, posted on David Fitch’s blog that I think touch on this and some of the underlying cultural/theological issues to do with growing meaningful/deep community here http://www.reclaimingthemission.com/whoah-that-just-felt-like-christianity/
    he has some interesting thoughts on how Capitalism and modernity have shaped both our culture, church and theology into something pagan and negating the mission of God.

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