I read the following on the "House Church Blog"…I adapted some of it to fit my community’s "ears"…only for the purposes of making sure that they read it and find encouragement. This is most certainly true:
Chris Marshall wrote: "I often say that church is not someplace you go but it’s a people you belong to."
Some Background on the Shared Life
It seems to me that nothing is more basic to “ekklesia” than sharing life with others. In this context we are able to live out the "one-another" aspect of the Christian life:
* Honor one another
* Bear with one another in love
* Encourage one another
* Accept one another
* Serve one another
In the context of this type of community life healing takes place. Henri Nouwen suggests that "when we are willing to confess both to ourselves and the other that we too are broken, that we too have a handicap, and that we too need a place to grow, we can build a home together and offer each other an intimate place." It is this intimate place that provides the seedbed for healing and transformation!
In addition, this type of community life provides an environment where we learn to root for each other to discover and enter into God’s very best. Eldredge coined the term "intimate allies" to describe the way in which we support each other in our personal journeys as well as find ways to "go on quests together."
Challenges with the Shared Life
Ah, but there are also the challenges. The times when community life just seems to make you want to pull out your hair (if you have any) and scream "aaaaggggghhhhhhh!!!!!" Perhaps I should avoid specifics here (I never know who ends up reading one of my blog posts) and just say that there are times when all of us want to make community life all about our self: "What’s in it for me?" "Why isn’t anyone paying attention to my needs?" "Why are others being so self-centered?" "Why is so-and-so being so hurtful?"
None of us absolutely love working through conflicts, dealing with difficult people, or persevering when community life is less-than rewarding. But that is all part of the package. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Hang in there because community is God’s purpose for transformation and because it is, at times, an indescribable life-supporting gift.