Thursday, May 29, 2008

Peter Block on Community

I just cracked open Peter Block's new book, Community: The Structure of Belonging. I'm only on page 25, but here are a couple of initial thoughts.

There are great insights in this book, and I suspect I'll be recommending that leaders in church small group/community building endeavors read it.

Why isn't the Church being the community that Jesus envisioned? When people outside the church write books on community, they are not using the church as an example of a place where community happens well. Shame on us.

Are we solving problems or creating the future?

A few initial thoughts from the book itself:

"We begin by shifting our attention from the problems of community to the possibility of community."

"Systems are capable of service but not care."

Kathie Dannemiller's guiding question, "How will the world be different tomorrow as a result of our meeting today?"


At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we are called to community but there are limitations to this. Collectivism teaches that there is no real worth in the needs of the individual other than what they can add to the group. This is an evil concept at its heart and I believe contrary to the will of God for societies and groups.

The idea of individualism is equally dangerous in that the individual can become selfish and only look out for themselves. This brings caous and makes it difficult for society and groups to function.

I here a lot about how individualism is destroying the church. The selfish American Revolution is taught and about how we Christians should give up our rights because God said. It is often tied into the repentance= revival message and equates to a morphs into this; because you value your individuality and rights you are holding up God from moving in this Country.

I find this message troubling and almost cult-like at times. Jesus told us to go out and teach all He commanded to all nations. This is how we make disciples according to the Great Commision. What did Jesus command: Love God and to love our neighbor as ourselve!. This implies that we must love ourselve to even begin to love our neighbor.

If this is true then we have it backward in just about every church I have been to. This would include NCC where I took a class on Social Justice in which community was preached and we were all told to sacrifice without really being told how or why? It is collectivist and dangerous.

So I came back one last time to church to see if anything even really mattered in the end after selling out for the group and giving it all and finding out more than once that no one else was willing to go and inch and told me how I was screwing up the mile I had gone.

When I read that 80% of the kids of the Christian system lose their faith in the first weeks of college I left a system that had told me I needed to change things that God did not want to change and tried to get me to conform to their ways. I do not listen anymore to people who can do no better than 80% failure.

But I came back to NCC last Saturday and heard the same message I spent many months preaching all over the West. I knew it was God telling me not to give up on trying to find Community. But I also am not stupid. I will see right through some man or leader's selfish agenda if it is there.

I was disturbed to here the first thing that came out of the regular NCCer's mouths when they found out I was new: Oh Pastor Mark is such a great guy and that is why I am here. I am sure I will hear about some great vision about how things should be in church there too. I scared me that I was coming into another personality cult where man is worshipped.

This is not his fault. I do not even know the man. I did here him on WAVA and liked some of what he said and decided to check it out. I plan on coming to the Theology class. I was going to do the Alpha class but it is not until the Fall. Why Alpha? It said that cynics were welcome. I am not cynical at all about God. I am about people who preach community and sacrifice and then just live for themselves at others expense.

Many that I have met that fall into this category have the name Pastor in front of them. I am not throwing stones because I did it at times too. I will probably again. But we have to all look deep at ourselves and wonder if it all hit the fan tommorrow would we have a community to count on? So far I say I have not seen it and i have visited every kind of church there is as a speaker.

So we shall see...

At 10:31 PM, Blogger theologien said...

I too am in the process of reading the book, and find it food for thought --not a snack, but a long thanksgiving dinner that takes a long time to digest.

Too often we think of community of being a part of a group and doing something. As Block says, community is seen as retributive, not restorative, light on accountability and commitment.

I think this is further borne out by the REVEAL study that Willow Creek did. One finding says that involvement in church is not an indicator of spiritual maturity. I think that same line of thinking underlies our understanding of community as well. If we get them to participate, they will experience community. Sorry, wrong answer.

We are in the process in our churches in France of discovering and experiencing what community is really about. Not answers or observations yet, just some preliminary conversations.

Should leadership read this? Yes.
Will they listen? No, they will sublimate it and turn it into a system that will "provide services but not care."

This book deserves to be more than another buzzword.


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