Over the years I have been involved in numerous faith "communities." Some lasted for a summer and were profoundly formative. Some lasted for a year or so and taught me stuff about myself that I would have rather avoided. Some lasted for years and didn't form me or teach me anything.
The last 7 or 8 years I have been part of a small faith community that has challenged me, formed me, taught me stuff about myself that I would have rather avoided, provided for times of receiving forgiveness and giving forgiveness, been full of great joy and deep anguish. And given me glimpses of what God was imagining with this business about his kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.
I came across this article by Karina Kreminski entitled: Four Everyday Practices you must have to Experience Community, that I found helpful and challenging.
She starts the article by saying: "I'm tired of Christians using the word community without meaning it."
Her 4 practices:
The Discipline of Stubborn Loyalty
How can we practice this “stickability” in a culture which is distracted, transient and essentially does not value loyalty? Can we express a kind of faithfulness and a constant reliance on one another and to the place where we live that will make the world gasp at our manifest fidelity?
The Discipline of Kenosis
We have to be willing to let go of our own selves in order to create true community. Truly surrendering to each other feels like we are losing our sense of self to some extent, and in our narcissistic society where individualism reigns, this is anathema.
The Discipline of Interdependence
what I found impressive was the awareness that each person had regarding fostering community. They realized that they affected one another. It was not just about the individual but each person keenly observed that the individual was a part of a community and so had responsibilities towards that community.
The Discipline of Welcoming "the Other"
We have a long way to go in order to learn the discipline of truly welcoming the other. Women, singles, marginalized people, ethnic minorities, refugees, these should be feeling at home in our congregations. Yet usually I hear the opposite. Many of these groups of people I have just mentioned crave community yet they leave the church gathering often feeling more lonely than when they walked in.