There's a church sign near us that reads,"Join our community. Sunday at 10:30." Giving the benefit of the doubt, I imagine the leaders of that church meant well. They were inviting folks to come join their community of faith, which meets on Sunday at 10:30. Unfortunately, much of the time churches are simply inviting people to come into their building at a particular time on a particular day to sing a few songs and listen to a sermon.
Community has become a buzzword in society, including church circles. There are on-line communities, work communities, and housing developments have been replaced with communities. Some of these communities may develop a sense of camaraderie in the members, although I don't believe the contrived, "planned communities" of houses are anything more than typical suburban sprawl. In the larger sense of the word, many "communities" in society may well bring people together.
I believe the church is different. Community is something that is not based on personal preferences, on a charismatic individual, on shared experiences. In the church, the only kind of community that matters must be based on the Gospel and our shared identity in Christ. The community that God wants is a community that lives life together, learning together to follow Jesus and love our brothers and sisters. In order to do this we must be together more than one day a week. Community needs time and contact to develop. The disciples were with Jesus 24/7 for three years. The first Christians met daily, going from house to house. I know things are different in the 21st century, but we still need time with each other often. We can not do this without learning from each other on a consistent basis.
We are family. While families go through periods where the members don't spend as much time with each other as at other times, a functional family will not give up getting together. As brothers and sisters in God's family, we are to spend time with each other. If you are part of a church body that meets in a building at a particular time on a particular day and gathers as friends and family at various times throughout the week, good for you. If not, why not begin?
From my opportunity to teach in our gathering this morning:
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