Sometimes we hurt because the church is struggling. Or we hunger because something in our spiritual community is lacking. It's easy to look to the church for our needs or to criticize during hard times. God designed the body of believers to be a place for spiritual growth, healing, and fellowship, and we often expect the church to design the perfect situation for certain types of spiritual experiences. Yet, the responsibility of spiritual growth and connectedness does not fall solely upon church leadership. We, the bride of Christ, must accept our own responsibility in fostering community within the church.
We follow and submit to godly church leadership by giving of ourselves. We grow in fellowship by serving and gathering together. That should happen within the church building and beyond--in the places we work, live, and play. Our yearning for community may never be satiated by attending service at a megachurch on Sunday morning. We need to be in Christian fellowship in deeper, face-to-face ways where both accountability and celebration happen between believers.
The leadership of the church cannot facilitate this for every person. Programs and events may help, but ultimately the climate of the church and the community fostered among the people depends on the congregation as they grasp their biblical role. Yet, honestly, we often want church leadership to foster community for us or to be selective about the types of believers we rub shoulders with.
Let's face it. Greeters at the door are wonderful in setting the first impression and welcoming. Severs at the coffee and information counters help us feel served and important. But sustained fellowship and belonging in the community comes from one's personal investment. We sacrifice for those things we find most valuable.
I guess I have been exposed to many conversations and witnessed much change as people long for community and set out to find the perfect fit in other local churches. I'm plugged in and serving, but felt the desire for better connection myself. I considered leaving. But ultimately, I decided with the Lord that I want to be a part of the solution for my church. I could go elsewhere, and would feel more comfortable in another setting, but I'm up for the awkwardness if it means we grow together. This mix of people; the normals and the crazies, the loosie goosies and the rigids; are my church family. We share Christ in common among our community.
And I am responsible to be a part of the solution.