My personal ambitions are few. I am not a big dreamer. I am not task-oriented bent, seeking to accomplish feats. I simply desire that people relate in an authentic community. My desire in life is simply to build community where I’m at with people who
are also on this life journey, and here I’ll briefly share my initial thoughts on building an authentic community. (11 Jul 98)
* this page is a work in progress; it will be fleshed out as we go along in the journey * read my latest thoughts at my personal BLOG
What are the ingredients of an authentic community?
You are accepted for who you are. You don’t have to put on a mask. You don’t have to conform to some societal norm or meet certain expectations. You don’t need to suppress your ideas and feelings. You won’t lose face for sharing your struggles and
weaknesses. You’re allowed to be yourself. Be real.
Everyone is unique and everyone is different. Some have more common with others, some don’t. That’s okay. Being different is great. Don’t let it become an issue or worse, like prejudice and racism.
As Christians, we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. We must be at peace with each other, not holding grudges, bitterness, or strife. Yet for all of us, nobody likes confrontation. But we have to apply the principles of Matthew 18
and Matthew 5:23-24, to deal with the pains of misunderstanding, offenses, and oversensitivity. We must be both humble enough to confess (our sins and offenses, both intentional and unintentional) and to forgive (desiring restored relationships). We
can’t afford to burn bridges, there’s not that many to burn.
Conflict is a when, not an if. It is a natural part of life. The strength of a relationship is not how long people know each other, or how much they like each other, chemistry, or personality. The strength of a relationship is forged and tested through
resolved conflict. Conflict is the stress test that will strengthen and deepen relationship. Sad truth is, people don’t want to go deeper. People let their personal wounds fester and turn into stinky sores.
in a recent conversation [actually in a forum discussion where Tim Conder shared some insights], the essential ingredients for a reconciled community are simply (1) art of dialogue [both sharing/speaking _and_ listening] and (2) vulnerability… well,
how about that? Those of you who have been tuning in, these have been listed here, but not quite as succinctly stated… upon reflection, the core basics are these two, and the rest of this big list of ingredients outflow from these… in this open
honest sharing, we are sharing our limitedness, brokenness, humility, giving what we have to offer to the others, and we discover that we all have something to give, something to share, and by refusing to do so (for whatever reason), the community
I’m sensing that there’s a lost art of dialogue. Some people don’t say very much, feeling like they don’t have much to say. Some people say too much, whatever comes to mind. But people are not listening to each other, and interacting, and dialoguing with
others. Is there no wonder that there is so much miscommunication and misunderstanding? Misunderstanding is not to be avoided, it too is a part of life; seize the opportunity to deepen understanding when there is initial misunderstanding. We all come
from different worlds, heritages, perspectives, and it only enriches our lives to see and seek to know the world in full technicolor. For practical ingredients on good communication, see 25 guidelines for good
My passion in life is to see life change up close. There, I’ve said it. In a concise statement. It’s not a measurable goal or purpose thing, but it’s as best as I can describe what keeps me going and where I’m going in the midst of a type A driven
obsessive compulsive world.
Accepted for who you are, and encouraged to be all that you can be. It is in such a safe place that you can flourish and grow, when you know you are accepted.
The foundational piece of community is not just between people, but between us the creatures and God the Creator. Faith in Him and then with each other empowers the community to be a light into a dark world, desperate to see people who are real,
compassionate, caring, and giving. Only God can unlease that kind of power, only God can renew the heart.
Another by-product of authentic intentional community is a real sense of intimacy, where barriers to communicating and relating are removed. There are 9 myths about intimacy and the sense of real community is different
from that, though not exactly nor completely opposite of the myths. The danger of myths is that they embrace half-truths or distorted truths, rather than complete lies.
books only begin to describe what community looks like
The Safest Place on Earth ~ Larry Crabb & Eugene H. Peterson
re:church [which should be a place of authentic community]
“Rather than a place for people to display their goodness and hide their failures in fear of censure, the church should be open, supportive, and compassionate in dealing with our weaknesses. It should be ‘the safest
place on earth,’ a place of true spiritual community”
“WE HAVE MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE! For most of this century we have wrongly defined soul wounds as psychological disorders and delegated their treatment to trained specialists. Damaged psyches aren’t the problem. The problem is disconnected
souls. What we need is connection! What we need is a healing community”.
–Larry Crabb, in CONNECTING: Healing for Ourselves and Our Relationships
The Longing for Home : Reflections and Reflections ~ Frederick Buechner
This book is the first one that I’ve read that resonates with my soul. The fallenness and pains and misunderstandings of this world can be oh so discouraging, but the hope I cling to is that this place is not home yet. I long to be home, a place where I
belong, and am accepted for who I am, and where we all are accepted, because it is only in a community like that where we can grow and be all that God’s created us to become. Oh how I long to be home…
Abba’s Child : The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging ~ Brennan Manning
I just found out about this book, and I’m starting to read it now. It’s both sad to get in touch with the depth of our heart’s cry, but also powerfully encouraging to know that the struggles in this life are temporary, and there are genuine glimpses of
heaven here in this life.
Yearning : Living Between How It Is and How It Ought to Be ~ M. Craig Barnes
This book may share the same theme as Buechner’s, I’ve yet to read it, but the title caught my eyes!
Church, Why Bother? : My Personal Pilgrimage (Spiritual Directions) ~ Philip Yancey, Eugene Peterson
Are you as bothered by the superficial unhealing pietistic environment of so many churches that you’ve visited that you’ve given up on the church ever becoming a place that can be a dispenser of grace and healing and forgiveness? I tell you that I’m
bothered, and grieved. There’s still a reason to live for God’s entity called the church even though so many pretend to, with their holier-than-thou play-church approach to life and relating.
Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?~ John Powell
Classic book on transparency and interpersonal communication