Is it just me or has the American church, in general, lost its sense of “community”? By “community” I refer to the activities seen in the early church, in particular Acts 2:42-47. There we see people coming together daily in the temple, sharing a meal together, being in each other’s homes, sharing of their assets, etc. All for the benefit of a community comprised of the Followers of Christ. This distills to living out their lives in service to one another. Reaching a place where we make time in our lives for other people and where we allow other people to engage us in our own lives. Doing Life Together.
Does this sense of community apply in the modern church? Well, yes and no. We see a lot of programs with the church that attempt to create, replicate, and stimulate such community. One of the more common approaches to facilitating this community within a given church is the home group or cell group. Home groups have been around for some years now and in many cases do a decent job of bringing people together. Those taking home group one step further is known as the house church movement which eliminates corporate gatherings altogether and focuses simply on their small gathering.
Let me pose it like this, do you attend church, participate in a faithful manner, even in a home group, and yet feel that you have no real sense of connection to the church community? Sure, you may even know a lot of people who say “hi” to you before and after services and yet there is a deep discontentment in that you never see or hear from them until the next encounter in the foyer on the following Sunday morning. When was the last time someone invited you over for Sunday dinner? This was a common practice in my youth. When was the last time you invited someone to your home for dinner? Why is this? What has changed? And is this change for the better? If not, should the church be doing something about it?
To be continued…