Is The Church a Real Community?
Have you ever wondered why God set up the church? Why can't we just serve Him as individuals?
God set up the church for many reasons, and one of those was to connect each believer to a vibrant, functioning whole (the body of Christ as described in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12).
The church is supposed to be more than an efficiently running machine; it's designed to support and nurture each of its members, heart, mind, and soul.
But, what's the difference between the community of the church and those that we find at work or school, or even, say, Crossfit, or Facebook?
Organizations and networks that we belong to are great. But their purpose encompasses a narrow scope that (usually) centers on perpetuating the organization rather than fostering community among its members. For example, a company may provide a great culture for its employees to enjoy, but, ultimately, it's in business to make money. (That's not wrong. Workplaces aren't supposed to offer everything that a real community does.)
These organizations value you to the extent that you participate in the organization's aims, and there isn't much community beyond those aims. When was the last time you talked about anything that "really mattered" with someone at the gym?
You can also retain a certain degree of anonymity within these organizations. Take social media; people only know what you choose to reveal about yourself.
The church, on the other hand, is intended to be a much richer and more complete experience. In many ways, it's an extension of the family unit.
Consider the following descriptions that characterize the church:
- A diverse group of individuals that come from many different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds
- Old and young are allowed to interact together
- Strong sense of purpose in fulfilling a common mission
- Each person's individuality is encouraged based on God-given strengths and talents
- Everyone teaches AND everyone learns
- Nobody is more or less important than another, regardless of utility
- Work is done willingly and freely, often in companionship
- Individuals are known — not just "faces in the crowd" — fostering a sense of healthy accountability
When the church looks like this, we realize that it's something we desperately need. It's so much more fulfilling than what we find elsewhere.
(If we ever feel like the church isn’t functioning exactly as it should in every area, perhaps resembling a world organization or club, that would be a time to realign to Christ’s design.)
Let's not look to our jobs, schools, clubs, or social media accounts for the type of community that they just aren't able to provide. Instead, let's look to the institutions that God set up: family, friendships, and the church.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.