There is a lot of blogs on community and individualism right now – at least in my current readings of the blog-a-sphere. Wondering what will make a cohesive religious (church) community and how to establish something ‘loving and cohesive’. Problem is…we are talking about the church here.
Why is the church the actual problem? They have a variety of teachings on love, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, and community – and about establishing something meaningful for the faith. That’s not the actual problem – the real problem is systemic.
What we have here is battle between ‘doing the best thing’ versus doing the ‘routine, systematic thing’. The system is not set up for community building but for a worship service – a ‘show for God’ if you will. The central focus of church is not community – but focus on the worship of God and the ‘rules’ of how this works.
There is a systematic way this thing actually works: opening prayer, some songs, offerings, some more songs, maybe a meet n greet, maybe some testimonies, children go to Sunday school, the sermon, an altar call (with more songs), and a closing prayer. Then next week we hit the merry go round one more time.
Not much happens in that service that does more to promote community than it does individualism. Same example can be seen in a movie theatre – God may not be the centre of attention at this time – but the actual service is quite similar. There is some money exchanged, everyone looks forward, their attention is ‘not on one another’, there is clapping, sometimes music, laughter, and even tears…then it ends and they all leave (to do it again at a later time). Meanwhile, they are all there for the same purpose – but they are very individual in their moments spent there.
Church actually functions the same way when you consider it. Granted the focus is much different – but the feeling of individualism isn’t. Community is not being captured in most church services – a look of community is – but in certainty community is actually quite overlooked. Everyone is singular in their focus on God and worship – all the while doing this in front of a bunch of others who are in the ‘same zone’. Parts of it not much more than a rock concert for God and parts are not much more than a classroom setting.
Community is so much bigger than any of that – it’s meeting together to share with one another and get to know each other (and who we really are – concerns to fears to comforts). It’s about respect for elders, honouring those around us, sharing our stories and lives, giving to one another, finding our role/meaning in the communal house, giving children a supportive environment, and learning to love ourselves in the light of others and God. It’s just about making meaningful connections to a body of people.
I don’t like church when I know what community is meant to be and looks like – church is just another rock show or movie to me – I like the show – I have fun – I spend my time – but how many people do I truly bond with? God wants me to ‘love my neighbours’ and it can be argued Jesus, James, and Paul all state this as an emphasis of ‘fulfilling the whole law’ – yet it appears very little in church services. I wonder why?