Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
I grew up in the church. Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, Christmas Pageants … they were normal occurrences in my family. As I got older, youth group became a part of every day life and I became involved in regional youth events and committees. As a college student at a faith-based school, I was surrounded by people of faith. We shared life together. Asking questions, celebrating good things, mourning losses, wrestling with doubt … none of it was out of the ordinary.
It wasn’t until I got out of college and began looking for a church community that I realized just how much my childhood and youth shaped me. I had grown up in Christian community and yet here I was, suddenly without it. My life felt empty and God felt just a little bit further away.
I had a hard time identifying what it was I was seeking. Maybe it was just a huge transition time in my life. Perhaps I just had to “find my way” in this great big world.
I don’t remember how it happened, but one day I came across this simple verse from Ecclesiastes. This was it! This is what I had been seeking. This is what church was all about. True community. Life together.
A community where people worship together, serve together, laugh together, cry together. A community who lifts one another up during difficult times. A community that talks about the tough stuff. People who truly live life together.
All too often, this isn’t what church is about. It’s about the perfect children’s programming, excellent worship, great Bible studies, and let’s face it…making the budget. But that’s not what God called us to. He didn’t care about the programming or budget. All he cared about was people loving one another.
What might life look like if we truly lived life together, no matter how messy it might be? How would our churches be different? How would our faith be different? How would our lives be different?
Have you ever experienced true community? How did it shape your understanding of church?
I love my friends that I’ve accumulated through my different moves and cities. There are work friends, but the best ones are the ones I’ve made in the community of church.
David – there IS something different about our church friends, isn’t there? I can never put my finger on it … but I guess community in Christ is very different than other community. Thanks so much for stopping by!
I don’t fault any church for budget or children’s programming. What they are trying to do is have God help them be an influence for the future generation while showing support to parents, but you need a budget to do that with taxes, property, and debt. However, it takes each one of us to reach beyond our comfort zone, breaking boundaries, to create the kind of church you speak of. Otherwise, we come to church, worship, and go home. We say, “How are you?” but really don’t want to hear about their day because we’re trying to get from point A to point B. We all could do better at reaching out. Me–I’m still looking for that community and realized that it needs to start with me even if I’m nervous as heck in striking up a conversation.
Nikole – great points! I totally agree that budgets are necessary … and so is programming. I guess what I struggle with the most is when that becomes the number one priority rather than community between people. Having said that … I think you hit the nail on the head where we are each responsible for making community happen. If we don’t allow ourselves to open up and begin conversation, we will probably never find community.