Community Construction

“It is our care for the helpless, our practice of loving kindness, that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. ‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another … Look how they are prepared to die for one another.’”

Tertullian

imagesWhat on earth had Tertullian seen, what on earth was going on during his day?  I think he had seen much more than the clambering after my ministry, the adding of title to my name “pastor”, “apostle”, or as one business card announced handed to me “king, bishop, apostle…” seriously, or attending “church” sitting in rows all facing a band and an expounder.
By the way attending”church” !!!! we cannot mean what we say…the ekklesia is what we are, what we are called not a Sunday attendance or a building but a loving people.

Ok back to the plot, its much more about a people in practical poured out life for one another.  A people that burst forth, erupt with love and care, where compassion  overflows where genuine need is encountered.   Clearly it was yet another description of community…what about our community…

I hear the cry of fatigue within the attending people of God for real relationship, for a family, a community, there will come a time that the cry will erupt outward and energise the rise of community once again.   That in todays environment a church that has become the father and mother to society as community.   It’s coming I tell you, and if it does not then there is no God working toward a declared purpose, but of course we know there is and it’s coming…

It will be heralded as we once again see a View of God that is community, a view of Father, Son and Holy Spirit that make the other more important that themselves, pouring out working for the other.   The Trinitarian view of this Divine Community becoming the dominant pattern to emulate.   The pattern to give form to church, leadership, people.   For far too long it has been a top down expression we have seen, but it is exploding,  a RELATIONAL MOVEMENT is here.   An emphasis on the model of community seen in the Covenant movement of God and we the disciples of Christ are to be the exact expression, the mirror of the union to creation.

It will all happen as we are captured again and put down a biblical pattern, realising the Divine union we have been born to, think it through as you do you will see that many organisational patterns, strategies have lost their theological, their biblical basis. Let em say struct we do require but one that enables and true reflection of a God way not best business or growth pattern. Peopel at Centre, Christ at centre a family a community as the community of God. As we discover the truth of “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity … for there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forever more” (Psalm 133:1).

We will move from a lost expression of fellowship that has been hijacked, to meaning little more that acquaintances or a religion, to an understanding of a deep koinonia.   Not crowds but a relationship that is speaking as honestly as I can, seeing people as essential to my life, seeing we are so deeply connected, community walking covenant mirroring the flow of relationship of God.    The family of God becomes a priority, in this relationship realising that I had been given a God gift a divine lack, a gap that only another can provide, “as every joint supplies”.    Understanding  that my maturity is dependent, radically on your part that flows to me, radical. On some one else willingness to flow towards me and my willingness to flow towards them in their maturity.
Are you not tired of having to defend a ‘church pattern’ what ever pattern it may be, or one who felt the need to defend as you felt gathering was threat to the authority of the pulpit (or music stand, as the case may be) rather than it was all meant to be community, meant to express community, a family of God)

So many who attend church have dominant feelings of loneliness, humiliation and confusion with this becoming the dominant feeling.   But we are the community of God, how can this be?   A Relational Movement, how can this be, personally I have set my direction to become part of this Relational Movement,  connecting with others that long for this in the place they live ‘Family Christianity’, knowing that has always been Gods purpose and direction to have Family.

A family that are called to live by the gospel, ministries of Christ, leadership that enjoy a family rather that comparison pressure or projecting some other image that they are not, or power of project or name dropping or having to be at the right conference.   A family among all God s people that is caring and loving that the society around says “my, how they love one another”

What about finding a relationship that is always redemptive, redemptive love constantly.   Not judgement or a sudo-judgement when they use other words and say the do not judge, but don’t you feel it in the underling superiority.    A place where when you lose your direction or the inner song of God and are ready to give up, when you are broken you find a community that does not cast you aside, or think less of you, or distance quietly affirm you for some unspoken agenda.     In a community that never utter a criticism or even thought of one but a redemptive love in action..

images-1This Christ Community, this Relational Movement is distinctive, it is  what enables us here to reflect the movement with in GOD?    I trust in reading you are inspired to discover a Relational Movement, a community to belong to.   As you read this blog may a shout of yes I see it, yes I long for it, this mirror of how GOD flows and make the other more important.   There is a drawing to find this Community.    Ponder it next time we will consider why this is distinctive to our world.????

Community Building

Why in the modern church have we so used the term  “personal relationship”, come into a personal relationship with Jesus as a way of defining my experience of God?

Unknown-4I have discovered through reading the scriptures that my personal relationship is not enough, I have discovered that through my faith experience that it is inadequate.   the scriptures tell us that the church grows “as every joint supplies”, that if I say I love God and not my brother something is not right.
I have realised that we must apply this relationship to people around me and I must be vigorous and develop a strategic personal relationship with Christ’s people.    So we have a personal relationship that express itself in the “love others”, if we don’t something is missing.

I have discovered that I cannot say simple “I love you” without grasping they are the three hardest words that you have, it is a statement that challenges and deals with my “integrity” “intimacy” and my “identity” – I…Love…You!   It asks me to tell what i mean by LOVE

Community describes such large diverse formats in todays postmodern world, people in a home, monastic, celebrations where ever, what ever shape it comes in it does have highly defined principles.

These communities and practices so vary across our world from the House Churches hidden in countries where people are under threat of death to your G12 along with the mega church and many other expressions of various forms and practices.   Even through out history we have accounts of people who would gather out of their daily routine to read, pray along with enquire of one another’s health and days.   The Methodist in early days would gather and run a checklist on the condition of each others soul’s, the early pioneers would say if you did not involve in such a practice your conversion was likely not genuine.    This was not a small group administration as  we have today, although it was recognised that the best number of participants was 10 or 12 people,  it flowed form the conviction that you could not and did not have a solitary faith – it was community, corporate all the way

“It became evident (to Wesley) that it was only through such close fellowship that people continued in their faith. Those who did not join the ‘Society’ (of Wesleyans) sooner or later fell back into their former careless life… The members of the classes came to meet together, and so a real encounter and true exchange between the members was assured.       People shared experiences with each other, bore the burdens and care of a brother, spoke openly with each other and so nipped in the bud rumours and evil gossip.       People prayed and sang with each other.” 

Martin Schmidt,

For many decades this setting produced a fast growing church just as the underground church in China has experienced, so did the ‘House Church’ movement of Uk 40 years ago, clearly there was key to it.     It is the appreciation of the power of Christ-followers together in community.

Howard Snyder writes that “renewal movements – notably Methodism and  Pietism – offset the individual and otherworldliness thought structures of accountable community…they nurtured community that neutralised spiritual narcism to a significant degree. When these were abandoned they lost their key defines agains on overly subjective individualism”    Perhaps its realising the ‘House Church’ movement of the UK, the renewal movement of South America along with the ‘Underground House Church’ movements of China say much on regaining a pattern that retains and develops ours UNION with God and one with another rather than the systems that uphold the achieving personal gains/goals/destinies?

One of the saddest influences upon us today was the shift in the church history from community (koinonia) towards hierarchy (ierarchia) from the sense of being the charismatic “one-another” body of Christ to being a structured institution.     Its a challenge when we are to be the affirmation of the image of God in humankind and the manifestation of God’s glory, when God is never out of community, God is community, more than one, a covenant movement and the Church is to be its mirror in the earth…

One of my loved Africa sayings that come back to me time and time again, it is one that Archbishop (as he was when he used the statement) Desmond Tutu gave in a speech and spoke of the idea of community from an African perspective:

“We say in our African idiom, ‘A person is a person through other persons.’ The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms.        I need you in order to be me as you need me in order to be you.        We are caught up in a delicate network of inter-connectedness.         I have gifts that you don’t, and you have gifts that I don’t—voila! We are made different so that we may know our need of one another. The completely self-sufficient human being is subhuman.”images

If Tutu accurately reflects the African perspective on human relationships, then we need in the church, the ekklesia – this given the surname of God need to relearn to reflect the Covenant, the Divine Dance of Gods Kingdom Gods order.         And it’s this: that community—Tutu called it inter-connectedness—is essential in order for me to know myself … and to know you.

In the books written on the study of people you will find this quote that “True communities are built on the realisation that the autonomous individual is not a whole person. A person is whole only as he or she is a person-in-community.”

Paul and Frances Hiebert

Consider some of the scripture that so lock us into a UNION of many, the body of Christ.  It seems that God relates to us in term of our connectedness not our individuality.    Charles Simpson a wonderful friend once ministered that the church was “flexible…digital…”, and expanded  on the digital aspect.
That each digit has all it requires in itself, nothing required adding but it does not fulfil its purpose or become useful until it is plugged into the mother board, only then as connectivity flows from digit that surround it does it come to life, working and become useful.

Could this be the true emphasis of 1 John 3:11  “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. … This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

This is not your light contact but a serious kind of experience, its not sentimental or emotional but a deliberate, intentional love, a life-giving relationship we enter into, for longevity, not friend today and gone tomorrow type.    I note that people change friendships and their belonging, ho they along to and are friends with, they change as often as they change their clothes, what is fashionable in the moment or who is fashionable to be running with or who can give me what I am after?

As i said it is intentional, we connect not because you have some thing i need or want but because being “born of the Spirit” we have been “interconnected”, knowing i cannot display that in its world wide sense but i must locally be part of a people who receive my faithfulness, my commitment, my poured outness.   In Union with Christ means I must replicate the way of life with one another.  As i mentioned in my last blog it was meant to be the identifiable motif that distinguishes the Relational Movement we call Christ like or Christianity

I am because we are…A person is a person through other persons…I am who I am because of who you are

The “I” or it is a ”WE”

We are a people a community of more than two people, for it is not good for mankind to be ‘alone’ was one of the early words of conversations between the community of heaven.   Why was this not good? as the alone does not represent God, God is never singular,  never just one always in a community, a covenant of relationships, an expiration in more than one.   Mankind is to be a demonstration of this movement of God, this Divine Dance, it is not good to be ‘alone’.Unknown-4

Our community, the body is the joining of two or more people who have been intentional (Intentional is an important word for the Christ follower, a practical disposition being intentional, being intentional in our Christ likeness, life style and work), these who have agreed to cultivate their action around the ways of Jesus and intentionally love one another—caring, growing, and serving.       All are equal participants; everyone seeks to grow; everyone builds in the lives of the others; everyone understands that the ultimate purpose of the community is to display God and bring its implication to influence our larger world.

“Simple people can be amazingly powerful when they are members one of another. As everyone knows, it is almost impossible to create a fire with one log, even if it is a sound one, while several poor logs may make an excellent fire if they stay together as they burn.” 

Elton Trueblood

A life together, this covenant life of community and UNION has several expressions that demonstrates a life of God Movement;

The natural one and first one that comes to mind is a covenant, a community a demonstration of heavens way in marriage, the union of “…these two shall become one…” is an intensive experience.   Life close up, working being intentional to know each other, the depths of feeling and emotions.   Nothing kept from each other, we trust, the marriage  journey is often about finding the words to express my inner being to another, experiences and emotions to make known to your spouse whats going on inside.   No secrets, pushing each other for growth, taking with intent such experiences as cooperating, love, grace, generosity, thankfulness.   Unfortunately the catalogue of where I miss it is quite full, but there are times when we get it right.    This experience of UNION of community has done more to change me, I know it saved me as well.

Being part of a community of people who will sit together, eat together, build each other, correct each other, believe for each other, speak of joys, goals, misses and sadness, lives intricacy woven into each other.   This has been my experience,  a rich covenant with men and women, who have journey together.   No one there for their own agenda but willing to sow everything they have for a mutual community advance.    We laugh a lot together we cried together, more than that we broke things open together and for one another, as well as we saw God together.    This is no less an intentional covenant life style.

UnknownThere have been men, men who have been very close over the last 35 years that have been given to serving Christ to see the agenda of God in Restoration who have also committed to each other.   With these we spent hours together, talking personal stuff, debated what we read, provoked each other in what God was saying, scenario‘-ed’ the future, travelled together as we gave ourselves from our own personal agendas and what we had to do to be with the other person so we could spend time together, dug gardens together, repaired cars, painted rooms, mover furniture, but the centre was an outworking of God relationship.

The People I belong to, the church – ekklesia offer another opportunity for a broad experience of community.   We met in large rooms sining and listening to teaching, i cant say we discover the place of transparency in the corporate setting.    But there is something we must and cannot loose the intentionality of ‘gathering’, sharing hugs, exchanging words, knowing that this community is there for us and us for them if the circumstance necessitate it.   Its being INTENTIONAL in gathering rather than just seeing what happens , but INTENTIONAL in being corporate with people of great difference, learning to love God and express God in that one way

I am challenged when I come across people who have committed to live very practically in commitment, not to withdraw for a people a society but to be live in the midst of it.   I wonder if you or I could live like that?   Various degrees of common pot, may be not, but what about sharing house, what ever it is it could be to purchase a village together over time so we all live to demonstrate to a broken world a whole life style.   Not sure if I could do that  but it is covenantal and mankind not being alone.   Living close building a demonstration of care, involved lives

We have over the years  strived to be open and inclusive to many, opening our lives and home up, using our dinning table as a tool to express life together.   Having groups of people around us, pouring life out and receiving life from all who are together.     Our goal was to press into them the things we believed Jesus has taught us over these many years as well as helping them to discover this and more for themselves.     We have taken special delight in these people and consider them to be sons and daughters in the faith.

Become convinced that the word community, like marriage, ought to be reserved for collections of people who make their relationship a very sacred trust.

Community is at the core of the genuine Christian life.
It is not an optional experience but is essential
It is actually indispensable
God has many things to reveal to us that could not or would not happen if one stuck to a solo experience of faith.

There are two African proverbs I love to consider, one Desmond Tutu used often Ubuntu a definition of “human-ness”, and is often translated as “humanity towards others,”, I am as we are…   Then there is an old African proverb which challenges my thinking. “Alone, I have seen many marvellous things, none of which are true.”   Truth—God’s voice—is best recognised and affirmed in community.

It is together that we learn what it means to be community, to be a Relational Movement, to reflect God and be God’s family.

What sign am I looking and asking for?

Today is a world dominated by motifs and signs, its the world we live in, clothing which is validated by a certain motif printed or embroidered on the chest, on the sleeve or where ever its there for all to see your affiliation, belonging to that group or culture.    Do we attend the correct club, have we the right football attire for belong, am i part of the cool crowd.   Do we have the right brand to be part.    Brands are silent way of ’name dropping’ as a way of being accepted.   This way of life that has been so assimilated into us all only tells us that we all want to belong to the new, next, and right thing, or people group what ever…

imagesmo·tif – mōˈtēf/Submit, noun

a decorative design or pattern.
“T-shirts featuring spiral motifs”
synonyms: design, pattern, decoration, figure, shape, device, emblem, ornament
“a colorful tulip motif”
a distinctive feature or dominant idea in an artistic or literary composition.
“the nautical motif of his latest novel”
synonyms: theme, idea, concept, subject, topic, leitmotif, element; through line
“a recurring motif in her work”

Our world can be often moulded and controlled with the a disconnected orphan mindset and we do all we can to put on the right stuff, mould our language to be part of the crowd, to fit in with people, all of us all humanity wants to be accepted.

Yet there is another belonging, one that will bring peace to this journey for fitting in, for identity, this deep cry for belonging, being part. You see no-one is an island or self made we all are part with a desperate need of belonging, a few create belonging around themselves but most just belong to something. There is a WE of community, this community will bring an end to the orphan sprint that humanity must deal with. Its the WE of the church, the ekklesia of God “the called out…and given the surname of God” the people of God. A community that is journeying in its sonship, sonship is the only remedy to find a relief from the demand of living as an orphan. The WE community of sonship deals with the non-belonging of orphan status, thrusting the ME into the upside down world of WE into a family, the family of god and the UNION within the Covenant of God, this life of participating in God.

The UNION we have been brought in that WE might enjoy comes with it a responsibility to live life to the Unknown-4full, a WE kind of life that does away with gossip, intimidation, anger, and dishonesty.   That the relationship of God we have been brought into and are to enjoy has a cry to live a quality of life, that the WE demonstrates UNION life, the face-to- face, eye-to-eye view between Father, Son and Holy Spirit we have been brought into requires a quality of relationship among US as we see that Christ as Lord.     This is the motif the badge, our belonging rally sign. Perhaps these are the signs we should be chasing the “as I have love you…love one another”.   A Movement of Relationship, a Relational Movement this is our banner, pressed into our lives, embossed upon us that all might see, our motif, the COMMUNITY OF WE who carry this as our sign, “sings following”…?

In my travels I discover that people don’t reality find friendship, let alone one that is of depth.  A friendship where we we can share our deep dreams, doubts, secrets, uncertainties, calls, longing, rather we to often discover people who will not share these them as they get concerned from experience that they might meet deep inner sacred life coming at them a little further down the street from others, who of course have only share them in prayerful concern, O yea, O no. But it is a higher life way we are called to, to empower, to be a sign and a wonder of.   Along with the chase for a signs, a healing or what ever can we become this sign and wonder, a COMMUNITY OF WE?

A community where feeling alone, does any one care becomes rare, where loneliness is not to be found – A Movement of Relationship.    Without this WE baptism, baptised into the one body, people will cultivated an ability to keep most people at a convenient distance.

‘Church-family’, became about conforming doing the right thing, being with the right people, events, music so that we could be a part, it really is just pandering to the orphan inside us all until it is remedied by sonship, it was all to ensure belonging. Rather than taking up the responsibility of WE, yet the Spirit cries in us FAMILY, BELONGING (Abba), we make the scripture “cry Abba father” about, help me Lord ‘Daddy’ ‘Papa’, rather than the Holy Spirit’s cry in us being in UNION, BELONGING to God and the body of Christ.   Is not the Spirit always to make known the Christ to point to the Son not the ‘I’.     So could we see this as a deep Spirit cry of ‘I am Fathered’ or at least this Aramaic term outlines Abba – ‘Father in your Fathering’, be it to us O God.

It seems we have journey from a relationship experience, this expression of the Church that is to be a community who make known, a people of covenant towards God first followed by towards each-other, a demonstration, an exact likeness of the Communion of Person of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the place where the ‘church’ has become where I get information from, not community, we are friends if we agree on practice or theology and at its lowest form music style or the latest Christian practice or trend.  There is not much tolerance for diversity on these matters. Have w enow yet seen that advance along with adventure is found in our differences.     We have become accustomed to debates, divisions, new expression being started due to contention not the outflow of God, where is the tolerant community finding their advance in difference, Covenant being expressed as the Community “…fills the earth…”, “…goes forth and multiplies…”

When I ignore this ‘Communion of Persons’, the expression we are to be to our world, and display in our communities, it is to our peril. A peril that we could produce a church that is a ‘state-church’, a ‘professional church’ outfit.

You and I, the WE let us move to community making, becoming open to each other, loving enough to care, making the WE greater necessity that the ME and the ‘I’…becoming passionate to be the WE as PASSION MAKES REVOLUTION…