I am enjoying getting to know my new cell. No, I do not have any pictures yet of us having a great time eating big bowls of soup together (although we do that). It is too soon. We are forming community. These things take time. For some of us, it is a scary thing to do! Instagram will come later.
Forming community is not a lost art…completely
Watching a group of semi-strangers form a group bent of truth and love is relatively unusual, in many places. So a few of us in the cell don’t know much about doing it yet. Just sitting around a dinner table and having a group conversation is a bit odd! It seems strange to say it, but I think a lot of us Americans tend to be consumers of relationships, leaving our wake strewn with empty wrappers or ending up strewn ourselves. We are tempted to think scrolling through our phones for prospective hook ups is normal human behavior. A lot of people are very alone and feeling isolated.
So when our leadership team was thinking last Monday about how they are forming community quite deliberately by forming Circle of Hope, it was not that easy for everyone to put their heads around the process. Rudimentary community was supposed to happen for all of us in a family, and that is not always the case. Now that the Lord calls us to make a family that has even deeper roots than our own, it is quite an enterprise!
Community in Christ requires miracle
For one thing, the enterprise begins with believing that Jesus is leading his church. That means our Leadership Team believes they are relating to Jesus in real time and everyone else can too. That’s why we can maintain a dialogue of speaking the truth in love with one another — the love of Jesus at work in us compels us to do it!
What’s more, our leaders assume we are together as the church in our cells, meetings and teams because we have encouragement from being united with Christ. It feels good to be our true selves as part of this new community Jesus is making. We are drawn toward the joy of being at peace with God, other people, and all of creation. The “shalom” we seek is happening, not just in our minds, but person to Person as a member of the Body.
Even more, they help us to work hard to protect our togetherness for many reasons
- Our community is a calling from God. We are to be like-minded, to have the same love, to be one in spirit and purpose.
- The church is rather fragile. Everyone in our cells and congregations needs to learn how to look out for the interests of everyone, not merely themselves.
- It is daring to try on God’s expansive, inclusive love like a new set of clothes. We want people to feel safe to take courageous steps to care, to be openhearted even though they have been hurt, to listen even though they feel defensive about what they already think. One thing that will help us be brave is knowing that people acting contrary to Christ’s model won’t be leading them.
We want to form a place where loneliness is healed
We have a way we make decisions as a church, led by our Leadership Team. We do stuff and it takes communicating and organizing. But how we make decisions is less important than the heart of why we are in this together in the first place. The character of our process is the heart we protect because we are not like the systems of the world, nor do we incorporate most of their philosophies. We are not autonomous. We don’t need to be alone anymore, or good enough to be wanted. Our process for forming community is designed to teach Jesus and demonstrate an alternative way of life in which we are led by Truth and Love.