I have always been amazed by stories of an Amish barn raisings. The Amish community is known for working together for the common good. When someone needs a new barn, the entire community gathers and builds a barn in a day for that person. The women of the community prepare a large feast and the men work all day until the job is done. No payment required, no debt owed. Now that, my friend, is community.
The Church is all about community. Anything I say about the church is directly related to this core value. I believe the type of community we are expected to exhibit is evidenced by Christ’s Disciples. His followers ate, traveled, socialized, and worked together. After the resurrection, when they were afraid for their lives, they gathered together. After seeing the Risen Christ, when they didn’t know what to do, they went fishing together.
Christ-centered community has been the hardest aspect of the Church to learn for me. When I became a Christian, I had no reference point for learning community. I knew the help friends and family could offer, but Christian love is more perfect than that.
The first time I truly experienced community was within the women’s circle at my first church. I had been invited to come within a few weeks of my first visit. Many of them had been friends since they were in the nursery together. They had been at each other’s wedding. They had kids the same age. These women had been friends for so long, yet made me feel very welcome. In a short time, I felt like one of the girls. Even as the church was in great turmoil, these women stuck together.
Too often, new Christians find it difficult to understand Christian community. In a seekers’ church, the maturing Christians will teach the newer believers about community. However, in other churches, believers have grown up knowing the strength of community. It’s not that community is taken for granted – it’s just that they don’t know life without it.
It is often difficult for new believers to ask for help, whether or not they are personally good at it, because they put the value of serving others above all else. Churches nurturing new believers must be intentional in teaching their new friends about the ability of a Christian community to raise a barn. Otherwise, new Christians find themselves serving Christ without the benefit of working side-by-side with others.
May the Spirit raise the roof of your spiritual house,