>How would I do community if the organized church–Real Life, 1st Methodist, Grace Lutheran, Nampa 1st, ALL those places–ceased to exist? How would I go about gathering and finding a community if I could no longer rely on others to create it for me?

I have wrestled with this question quite a bit for quite a while now and have faced it just a tad more squarely as of late.

This I know. Community starts with ME. I have to share my stories, my life, my love, my secrets, my insecurities, my passions, my frustrations, my joys before I can ever hope others will do the same. I cannot EXPECT anyone else to do so, ever, but I can hope that after I have shared long enough and often enough, my openness will be reciprocated. I cannot do community if I am not the embodiment of community first. I either create or sabotage community wherever I go.

Without relying on others to define community for us, it is only by being open–in all of our beauty and ugliness–that we can find others with history and perspective and depth and faith that can and will join together with us on our journey. And when expectation is taken out of the equation two great things happen: 1) the journey is that much sweeter because we know that no one has partnered with us out of duty or guilt or “should” and 2) we are all that much freer to focus more deeply and intently on the few rather than be stretched thin by many. Our relationships can be more connected and authentic. (By the way, I hesitate to use the word “authentic” because it gets thrown around so often and has been so overused by the church, I think, that we have lost the meaning of it; however, authentic is really the only word I know to sum up the sentiment I seek to convey.)

Community is not a place. Community is not made up of doctrinal distinctives. Community can be influenced by those things, but it is so much more. Community is a lifestyle.

Am I a person of openness? Am I person of warmth? Do I share as quickly and as equally as I hope others will share with me? What is my story and how do I tell it? What message do I convey to others about the things that are most important to me?

Our lives–everything we do and don’t do, everything we say and don’t say, every expression, every gesture, every relationship–conveys something of us to others. Do our stories invite others to join the journey? Is the manner in which we give our lives to others so inspirational that they are compelled to do the same?

So, if we look at the people around us and have a sense that something is not right or not as good as it could be or that huge areas of lack and want and void exist in certain areas or in specific relationships we need to first look at ourselves before ever looking at anyone else. We need to reexamine how we have defined community, how we do community, and what we “expect” from our community.

This is how communities are formed and transformed–by the Spirit in which we do it.

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,


One Response to “Community”
  1. Cody Stauffer says:

    Amanda, awesome thoughts. Too often we all jump to the conclusion "well, this isn't for me" without first asking how can I make things better? Am I being open and inviting, and if I'm not, will I change some of the tone of this community by doing so? I love the idea of taking expectations out of the equation, and start asking serious questions of ourselves. Beautiful! On a side note, hope you can make it to our next gathering, on the 18th. We will be wrapping up a book we are discussing, and choosing a new one.

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