The Community – Individual Continuum

Theologically, we all know that you can’t experience the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus without community. Jesus invites us not to merely partake in communion but to live in communion with one another. (A throwback to the Garden of Eden)

Sociologically, we live in society built around the individual. We live in single family dwellings. We have our own rooms and our own stuff. We drive cars instead of taking the bus. We eat in individual pods of friends or by ourselves. (This individualism knows no boundaries and is the opposite of Jesus’ life in community.)

The way we experience church in our society is intimately and inseparably syncretized to our culture, even in direct opposition to the model given to us in Acts. (See Pate’s Communities of the Last Days & Jones’ Teaching of the Twelve for a scholarly look at the practical implications of life in community for the early church.)

Plotting my walk with Jesus on the Community – Individual Continuum

In the last 24 hours I’ve been wrapped up in this simple drawing above. In fairness, it’s just a device to explore some assumptions I have vs. realities I live. So if you stretch it too far it falls apart. At the same time I can’t get away from the teachings of Jesus. Jesus’ very life is an invitation to walk away from Satan’s desire to separate us from communion with God. To walk with Jesus is to walk in communion with his people AND with God.

Some examples:

  • Daily Bible reading (Mostly individual, though I often share what I’m reading with friends or here on the blog.)
  • Prayer  (90% of the time prayer is individual)
  • Small groups (A few hours per week, and we haven’t met since winter, so I suck at this one)
  • Attending church (I’ll generously put this near the middle. It’s communal, even though there’s almost no interaction with others.)
  • My home (We’ve had people live with us, stay with us, etc. But if I’m honest it’s way more about our family than community living. Nothing like in Acts)
  • My work (This is getting better and worse at the same time. Thus, the life of a freelancer)
  • My service (I do a lot of stuff, but it’s all “what I do” and not “what we do.”)
  • My kids education (I’d love for this to be a community effort, but it’s not. It’s all individualistic.)

My challenge to you would be to take 30 minutes and plot out your day-to-day life along this continuum for the sake of discovery. If you want to get really dangerous, after you do that read the first 5-6 chapters of the book of Acts.

I don’t know where this is going. But I do see the need to reject the individualism of my society and further enter into communion both with Jesus & his people.

What about you? What are practical ways you are living in communion?





2 responses to “The Community – Individual Continuum”

  1. Matt C. Avatar

    Wow. Really great challenge. I think I’m too afraid to take it because I know my community ideals are sky high, and they’ve been continually disappointed because of the individual demands on everyone I’ve tried to enter into community with (myself especially). I hope you continue this conversation.

    p.s. Also totally impressed with your ability to put an idea out there that is crazy challenging without making conclusions. Great job!

  2. deannaogle Avatar

    This is an interesting post. I’m struggling with going to church at the moment. Our home church closed it’s doors recently and so we’ve moved to a nearby church but really only because our friends go there. In light of this community-based idea of living, is that a good enough reason to keep going there? Because as you said, there really isn’t any social interaction, so I feel like I’m wasting the pastor’s time for only showing up and trying to listen for an hour just so I can get to the fifteen minutes I’ll be talking to our friends. I don’t know.

    Great points though… I’ll have to take a look at this and see where I can up my community quotient. Thanks for posting. I’m off to subscribe right now!

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