And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -Hebrews 10:24-25
Human's require community, we are social beings. Many enjoy time spent alone with their own thoughts, but for most being alone is only so sustainable. I know I am especially avoidant of spending time alone, as a strong extravert more often than not I search for social interaction. After a long day at work, 30 minutes in a group gathering can more than rejuvinate me.
The irony I find in today's society is that although we are electronically more communicative and connected than ever, people feel increasingly more alone and isolated from others. I know I sometimes feel like my own little ship, although along my day I encounter many other ships, ultimately I sail alone and chart my own voyage. So in our technologically powerful yet individualistic society, where do we go to find community?
Ask yourself the question: Where do I belong? To whom do I belong? What are some of my communities? What is home to me?
And what is at the essence of "a sense of community?" The things that come to mind to me are connections/bonds with others within the community. Actually reaching out and being reached out to for the purpose of connection. Another element that comes to mind is by being in the community, a certain affinity is generated. By belonging and connecting, I develop loyalty and compassion for others in my community. Finally, a higher purpose I think is also essential: whether fostering an appreciation for a hobby or protecting the survival of a certain body of people (a family perhaps?). It makes sense to me also that a healthy community is also naturally inclusive. The community wants more to be united and join, as ong as those joining do not disrupt the community's higher purpose or uniting tenant.
Community is fostered in many ways spiritually. The church is a community, as well as other bodies of people who come together to contemplate, serve and rejoice in the divine. One way to define faith is a community of many people united over a spiritual bond/understanding. I think the church, christianity and other religions are one of the primary ways people find community in their lives.
I am fortunate to be a part of many communities, in Ultimate Frisbee, at Work, in Worldbridge. I am a part of the Uptown community, the St. Olaf alumni community. I am also a part of the Urban Refuge community-my church. However lately I have been neglecting that community. Due to travel and a variety of other excuses, last sunday was the first time I had gone to Church since Christmas. Furthermore, due to scheduling conflicts I have become less and less active in a church small group or sub community. When I did go to church this last weekend it was so refreshing- to actively listen, be around others etc.
I feel there are many Christians these days who choose to not go to church often. I, having been one of these people myself during periods of my life, understand how it can be hard to fit in and other times not always a fun activity. Churches, like every other community I know, are also admittedly not flawless. Their are times when poor decisions are made, communications misrepresented, sins are committed. There are times when the church says things I or others disagree with.
But I do not think these flaws outweigh the benefits to belonging to a church community and participating in it. I think by being a part of a church you really get to experience community at a whole different level- connecting, sharing and contributing to others, growing in well-being and faith. Practicing important values such as compassion, listening, charity, service. Not to mention when going to church I am reminded of the bigger picture, the commitment of all the people to God and of doing their best to be good people.