'Missional' and 'missional communities' are the buzzwords these days, and I am deeply appreciative of that. But let's not forget that the flip side of the same coin is the community of believers: learning to love and care for one another, providing a place of safety and healing, speaking into one another's lives in word and action. This is also at the core of a vibrant, impactful, outward-facing community.
I am re-quoting here a post I wrote several years ago entitled What Does 'Community' Mean?
Community is almost a ruined word. I refuse to give up on it though. Just because its been misused, battered, and tattered does not mean it can't be useful. But it needs some definition.Community means availability. It means time spent together. Real time. Time for conversation, interaction, and a deepening of communion, of intimacy between 2 or more people. Community is never general or generic. It is always specific and definable by people spending time together. Now, time spent together does not guarantee community. There has to be a certain quality to the time spent together. Time doesn't guarantee it but it is a pre-requisite.Community means vulnerability. If we aren't willing to open up our lives to others we will never experience true community. This is why mutual confession builds community. We come to the table with our strengths and our weaknesses and we lay ourselves bare, exposed to the scrutiny and more importantly the love, acceptance and forgiveness of others. This doesn't happen overnight nor should it. It needs to be a progressive deepening. People who lay themselves bare at a first encounter scare me. There is something unhealthy in over-exposure especially as a first approach. These things take time and discernment to know how much to share and when. Mistakes will made. Over-hiding and over-exposure will happen. There can be no set rule for such things. But if we expect to gain community and constantly flee vulnerability we will never have it.Community means a shared life. This ties back in to availability but goes beyond it. Our life in one regard is made up of time. So if we want a shared life we must spend time together. Resources also need to be shared. Basically our checkbooks and our schedules can be a good gauge of community.Community means stability. Benedict was a genius to introduce a vow of stability into his Rule. If we want to experience community we need to be rooted somewhere among some people. If we constantly move on in search of greener pastures we will not be around long enough to grow the roots necessary for community. Community can not happen on the fly.