Thoughts on a Faith Community

Posted: February 16, 2009 in church, crossings, faith, my experiences

Over the last 19 months, I’ve had to redefine my own perception of community.  I had always perceived a community as a simple gathering of things … a gathering of homes on a street, a gathering of people in a square mile radius, a gathering of believers in a church, etc.  But that’s really it.  A gathering.  A group.  A number of things grouped together.

Any notions of this word that went deeper than a just a gathering bordered on the weird – hippies, cult-like religious fanatics (Branch Davidians, Jesus Juice), nudists.  The thought of “joining” a community brought to mind images of a Lion’s Club, Mason’s, or being on the community activist planning committee.

Part of my reservation in understanding true community stems from my natural desire to be sort of reclusive.  I’m great at being outgoing, funny, witty, and comfortable in front of groups of people, but only when there’s no real investment involved.  It’s easy for me to be a likable, humorous, engaging version of myself when I know those around me won’t really have the opportunity to know the real me.

But, ultimately, when it comes to true friendships, I’ve always been a real one-on-one, very small group of 3 or 4 friends type of guy.  As much as I hate cliques, I enjoy them in my own reality.  I like fitting into a small group of like minded people, loving others but keeping them at a distance, enjoying inside jokes, exclusive experiences, “you had to be there” moments.  Even 11 years removed from college, I sometimes long deeply for those days, when I had 4 really great friends who were always around.  They knew me.  I knew them.  Except for the cute girls I had crushes on, I could have cared less about the other 600 students.

Crossings, slowly but surely, has begun to change all that.  In this place, I have witnessed, heard about, seen, and experienced community in a new way.  A way I wasn’t sure existed.  A way that is magnetic, authentic, passionate, and deep.  I’ve had the opportunity to engage in a guys-only small group that has grown, changed, grown again, served together, studied, laughed, prayed, and opened ourselves up to one another.

I’ve seen everyday needs being met by others.  Heard stories of community-provision that brought tears to my eyes.  Even now, our neighbor (a family of 3) is about to be without a home….and families within the Crossings community, without even having met these people, have opened their homes and offered them a place to live.

I’ve seen a community truly engaged in the Sunday morning teachings.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a church where people could actually recall what had been taught 2 or 3 months earlier.  I’ve seen people of ALL ages engage fully in worship.  In a setting where you might expect only 20-somethings to be comfortable….there are 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70-somethings enjoying themselves every week.

I’ve seen people give of themselves week after week, hours upon hours, to own this community and make it a special place.  I’ve seen people really examine their lifelong beliefs and traditions – not because we expect them to “conform” – but because they’re finally taking steps to make their faith THEIR faith, and not the one that was handed to them.  And even when their beliefs or traditions don’t match up exactly with what we do at Crossings, they are tolerant and accepting, realizing that we are all on the same journey together, and that what really matters is not communion rules, alter calls, or song styles, but the lifelong struggle of finding your way back to God.

God is still working on me.  I can tell there’s more to this community-thing than I have yet to experience.  I’m still working on just being me, on being transparent and authentic.  I’m still struggling with how to let-in all 8 guys in my small group, rather than just 3 or 4.  And I’ve been in a months-long dilemma with understanding and responding to God’s call in my life.

But everyday is an amazing adventure.  Every Sunday is life-change just waiting to happen.  Every Thursday night is an opportunity for friendship, growth, and honesty.  Every evening at home is a chance to live out God’s love with my family.  And through it all, community happens.

Funny thing.  I rarely call Crossings a church anymore.  Not to myself, to my friends, to my co-workers.  Not that church is a bad word.  It’s just somehow not sufficient in today’s vernacular.  We are a faith community.  We do community, live community, share community,   flesh community, cry community, and teach community.

It’s like there are 1000 meanings of the word community, and for the first 31 years of my life, I only knew 2 of them.  But God does what God does, and now I know about 30 meanings.  And there are 970 more that He’s just waiting to reveal to me, in His own time, as I’m ready to understand them myself.  Almost like He’s smiling, nervous, anticipating, excited for me to learn the next meaning.  I know just how He feels.

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Comments
  1. jeph says:

    you went and made me miss you. punk.

    i wish on many days that i still lived in k-town just because of all the good ‘community’ down there. i don’t sense it just at crossings, though. when i talk to others i’m getting a feeling there’s a true…restoration of community going on down there. you articulated it well.

    i’ll be down there in the summer hopefully and we’ll play disc golf.

  2. Jason says:

    Hmm, disc golf, that would be awesome. I’m hearing that author Stephanie Meyer may be doing a public Twilight reading here in Knoxville this summer…maybe we can go to that too? =)

    (Sike)

  3. Michael says:

    Crossings Community is hott. I love them.

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