I used to think that community was as simple as having friends who bring a lasagna when things fall apart and champagne when things go well. Who pick up your kids from school when you can’t. But I think community is also an insurance policy against life’s cruelty; a kind of immunity against loss and disappointment and rage. My community will be here for my family if I cannot be. And if I die, my kids will be surrounded people who know and love them, quirks and warts and oddities and all. Jenny Anderson for Quartz
This article in Quartz is excellent (thank you Marci Glass) and it’s related to my Thank You, Protective Factors post last weekend. I believe that one of the reasons why institutional church congregations are failing is because people increasingly find holy communities in places other than church buildings. And some don’t find community anywhere – including church buildings.
You’ve probably seen the articles about social isolation in spite of our ubiquitous social media connections. The Quartz article says that human beings have statistically fewer confidants today than we had thirty years ago. One of the reasons why institutional Church is less important culturally is because so many connect Church with:
- Hating LGBTQA+ people.
- Covering up misconduct.
If you still consider yourselves to be part of The Church, I’m wondering how you would answer these questions:
- Is there a person in your congregation (who is not also in your legal family) who knows about the worst thing you’ve ever done and that person still loves you? Who is that person?
- Are there people in your congregation (who are not also in your legal family) whom you can call in an emergency in the middle of the night and they will come right over? Who are those people?
- Have your ever shared a personal prayer request for yourself (not prayers for your Uncle Frank or for your boss or for your neighbor but for you) and someone has stopped then and there to actually pray with you? Who was that?
- Has anyone asked you to pray for them and you did it right then and there? When was that?
- Have you ever dropped everything to go to someone who needed you in your congregation? When was that?
We can actually measure the depth of our congregational community based on the answers to these questions. How would your congregation fare if you measured community using questions like these?
Image is a stock photo of dinner church. A great way to form community is – of course – with food.