My Vicar is writing eloquently on his blog about some of our explorations we at Hodge Hill Church are making towards growing community. It is a concept I have thought much about for over thirty years since I thought God might be calling me to live in an intentional community. My vocation took a different direction but different facets of community have come in and out over those years. I have blogged previously about Millgrove and have written a journal article about love based on my experiences on placement there. This renewed my interest in what church as community looked like.
Forewords to books are sometimes an opportunity for a more famous person to write a few flattering words about the author. However, the foreword to my current reading is of as much value as the rest of the book. David Augsburger, who is perhaps best known for his work on forgiveness, says this:
Community, when it is faithful in welcoming its actual members, contains:
- contrasts in perspective
- tensions in relationship
- ambivalence in motivations
- variety in preferences
- diversity in values
- competition for resources
- complexities of human needs
- toxicity in personalities
– all held together by implicit and explicit contracts, covenants, and the conversations that keep them alive.
I don’t think we expect the journey as we grow in community together to be easy and straightforward – the Bible makes that clear enough! But as we work through, and continue to work through, some of these issues which in my experience are always part of community we will hopefully be able to give testimony as to how we see the image of God in each other, how our understanding of God grows as we see the potential in God’s body to truly be salt and light in the world and how perhaps also we redefine what we understand the church to be as our understandings of inclusivity draw in the people of peace (Luke 10.5-6).
Arthur Paul Boers Never Call Them Jerks. Alban Institute 1999, pvi.
immaturity in development