Long Term Community Building

From Michelle Van Loon:

She opens with Scott Emery’s post at Missio Alliance:

Perhaps it is from the reading I’ve been doing. Perhaps it is from the community I’ve been attempting to cultivate. Perhaps it is from seeing pictures of my friends and family from yesteryear. Perhaps it was a simple contrast of a table of older friends with my younger family. But I wonder, what do we need to do to have a community that grows old together? What intentional decisions and sacrifices need to be made to move towards that end?

So what does it take to build long-term community?

Then offers her reflections.

When I’ve listened to Garrison Keillor spin his Lake Woebegone stories, or read Jan Karon’sMitford series, I’ve been left with a feeling of nostalgia for a Cheers/Mayberry sort of connectedness. It’s the same sort of comradeship I see among the vets living out their days together at the American Legion. The writers and pastors who are trying to figure out how to cultivate bonded, life-long community are looking away from the modern Evangelical habits of programs and projects, which excel at fostering shallow acquaintanceships. They’re banking on the fact that living life rooted in one place over many years may be the real key to developing Biblical community.

During our nine years in Wisconsin, we experienced what it was like to live in a small-town sort of place where people tended to stay put for generations. There were beautiful strengths in this kind of rootedness – tradition, comfort, security, and familiarity. But the strengths were also liabilities. Even after nine years there, we were still treated as outsiders by many. The boundaries of those WI family tribes never stretched far enough to fully enfold “new people”; thus, it wasn’t really community for everyone. I observed that years of living in the same place, going to the same church, and hitting up the same place each week for Friday night fish fry with your cousins won’t create the kind of supernatural community described in Acts 4:32-35.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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