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Back to Basics – Community
As spring comes to an end, and summer approaches – one word sticks out in my mind…community.
This is the time of year when people come together! The cold of winter has passed, and has been replaced with the warmth of summer. With this changing of the seasons comes a change in how we connect with one another. No longer are we confined to the indoors. Instead we can enjoy the company of family and friends at a picnic…or by playing sports…or enjoying a bonfire in the evening…or maybe going swimming on a hot day.
My name is Joshua MacClaren, and I am a pastoral assistant at Wellsboro Bible Church, and one of my fondest memories of community was the end of the semester picnic we hosted when I was in college. The week before finals, my college Christian fellowship would rent a park pavilion, and enjoy good food, fun games, and meaningful conversations. It was a special time with my friends that I will always cherish.
But this sense of community is in danger of extinction. Community is on the decline.
In an article entitled Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital professor Robert Putnam presents the hypothesis that the sense of community, or the personal connection we have with our neighbors, that was once so strong in America is beginning to unravel. Rarely do people hang out weekly in a bowling league, or take part in any community activities. Instead, people prefer to bowl alone, or keep to themselves and refrain from engaging in meaningful relationships.
Why might this be?
I think one thing that drives many people from community is the rise of mass media. We have so many avenues of entertainment at our fingertips through technological advancement, that we have removed the need to interact with others. This trend of isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, and an overall lack of belonging.
Do you feel isolated? Do you feel lonely? Are you longing to feel welcomed by other people?
You know, community is something critical to the human experience. We were created to be in relationship with one another.
The difficult thing about community is that it comes with vulnerability. When we engage with others, we learn more and more about them. And vice versa, they learn more and more about us. To be known deeply by someone can be intimidating. But this should not be a turn off from developing meaningful relationships. It is such a blessing to be known and loved by someone. And it is just as much of a blessing to know, love, and serve others.
So, how can you develop more community in your life? Who can you form a meaningful relationship with?
I will say the deepest sense of community I have ever felt has been in my church. We example something called unity in diversity. Though we all come from different backgrounds, different ages, and different circumstances – we are unified through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The people in my church are all known intimately and deeply by Jesus. He knows the mistakes and sins we have committed, and yet he willingly died for us on the cross. It is because of Jesus’ death and resurrection that we can have such a deep sense of community. A community that I would be lost and lonely without. If you’re looking for community, come visit us at Wellsboro Bible Church. We would love to get to know you!