Forming Community

We were at a hotel in suburban Chicago. 17 students, 5 instructors/observers/evaluators, a few other observers. I devoted last weekend to improving my skills as a soccer referee instructor. It was intense. We gave three presentations before a small group. At each presentation were one or two top instructors who gave us advice but were also grading us. Our peers gave us feedback on our presentations. We tried to apply new techniques immediately.

There were three small groups. Friday night was learning. Up early Saturday, we started the round of presentations at 8. Had lunch time (maybe 2.5 hours) to prepare second presentation. Back at 2 pm for the second presentation cycle. Third presentation was Sunday morning. Really intense.

An interesting thing happens in that environment. Our small group of 6 almost immediately formed a little community. We were rooting for each other. Helping each other.

Reflecting on the experience this morning during my quiet meditation time, I wondered if the early Christian communities were something like this–although not passionate about a sport, they were passionate about a new way of life. They met in small groups. They taught each other. They “rooted” for each other. They helped each other–even financially for those who lost everything to follow this new Master called Jesus.

Then I started to think about the churches we attend today. How much is only attendance? How much is like a group where we all help each other out? Where, instead of gossiping about who’s doing what to whom, we reach out to each other?

I recently heard someone tell a personal story of struggle. Someone from the congregation approached and said, “You know, you can’t really participate anymore in this church because you are struggling.” What a terrible, heartless thing to say. Better would be, “I hear that you are hurting. What can I do to help you? And, by the way, you are always welcome here in our small group as we all struggle to live the way Jesus taught.”

What are you doing to promote community?

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