What does the word “community” mean to you? Many of our towns in the northeast have a white church building (or several) on the town square reminding us of a day when neighbors knew each other and were involved in each others lives. Today, we are more likely to be close with people who share a common interest or experience even if they live 20 miles away.
We go “to church” and we hear about community but what does it really mean?
I grew up among Christians who looked at the early church as a model of this community. We wanted to “go where the early church was going.” We regularly raised the fact that they were committed to four things (Apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer). We knew all of the greek words and the nuances of each word. BUT – just because you know and understand a concept, it doesn’t mean it is real in your life. Selah!
Well, here’s a thought. The early church met in homes and occasionally in a rented hall or in the synagogue. They chose, however, to focus their building of community in their homes. That limited the size of their meetings. Did you know they also didn’t have paid staff, run “programs” or center their meetings around the sermon. Ever wanted to be a fly of the wall to see what their meetings were like? I know I do.
Check out Robert Banks book, “Paul’s Idea of Community” or Frank Viola and George Barna’s book entitled, “Pagan Christianity.” They describe something very different than what we often experience. What do you think?