Here are a few of my thoughts about community building.
Watch this video first if you can:
click on the video called: Straton
(By the way it's an African pastors name...not a paper company on tv)
This short video immediately produced action in me.
After being touched by God through the screen, I went outside and God gave me a way to touch my neighbor.
With all the recent talk of loneliness, the need for community, what to do about isolation and not connecting; this video gives a powerful answer.
Ultimately to me, it is THE answer: Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Often the loneliness is more a product of us listening to our own brokenness than arising from hearing the voice of the Spirit.
(If )you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, (Then) your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. -Is 58:10-11
“Most people unreasonably … want such a friend as they are unable to be themselves, and expect from their friends what they do not themselves give.” -Cicero
God's way is to use the lions (loneliness) that seek to slay us, empower us to kill them with our own hands, and then teach us to eat the honey from inside those victories and then feed it to others. (Judges 14:5-9). There is nothing as sweet as tasting the honey of victory and being able to share that honey as well.
Community most often, is going to start with fighting something that is seeking to kill you. The honey of community will only be tasted by those willing to risk everything for it.
Community can't be programed, it can't be forced, or pushed. It's a mysterious and sometimes elusive reality. I've met in small groups where it happened and in other small groups where it didn't. In larger church meetings where it flourished and others where it was flushed. We can't and shouldn't facilitate some quasi-form of relational rape in the guise of community building. Intimacy is a gentle process that arises often from natural affinity, shared and common experiences but in the kingdom of God it goes much deeper. It is cultivated over time. It is a fragile and timid bond that though present as a seed in the fellowship of the church, it must be cultivated, watered and watched over. Real community is something that we have to fight for, work at and die to our flesh in order to truly taste of it's most nourishing fruit.
Many people have illusions about community. Look at Jesus and his disciples. Read about their experience of community among themselves. There were moments of deep connection that made profound impact on them and how they chose to live as a community after Jesus ascended.
But there was a reality to their relationships too. There were sons of God and a son of the devil in the inner circle of Jesus' relationships. There was disagreements, prideful jockeying for position, moments of madness when you say things that sound more like the devil than from God. There was those that came and those that went. Moments when you see miracles and moments when you sink on the waves of faith. There was penetrating light that would send you to your knees in repentance and grace filled words that would heal old wounds. There was betrayal....kisses with ulterior motives. Community means there will be those that cling to the cross in moments of extreme trial and others who will run away, curse and deny. Some will hang themselves and others will repent and return. And a lot of talk about forgiveness. All of that is woven together in true biblical community.
You really want community? I seriously doubt it, because in the end, community or better, Love... is a path of suffering.
Most people want to be hugged but not hung.
But the only way to real community of spirit is through the cross.