15 November 2008

Where Everybody Knows Your Name... part two

I've been encouraged a lot by some of the feedback I've received on the subject of community, and want to concentrate now on one particular community - that of a church, my church. Looking more closely at the criteria for a feeling of 'belonging', of a 'Sense of Community'...

The place where you feel you belong should be a place where you feel emotionally safe. I've recently read a book by Chick Yuill called 'Others' (a copy was on sale at our charity shop!) and in it Chick makes reference to three things that are required of church membership - people need to belong (be accepted as part of a caring and welcoming fellowship), believe (explore and discover a living faith for themselves) and behave (discern and embrace God's will in every area of their lives). And apparently these should be in that order. Of course, as a church we already have that 'common symbol system' that I referred to previously; both my religion and my denomination are of course steeped with symbolism...

Members of the church do get a chance to influence the leadership via regular and irregular meetings with the leadership team. Church members should feel that do have some influence in the group; however, I know from experience that if they feel they are ignored or not listened to then they will lose interest. However, they should also remember that a degree of influence by the leadership team on its members, and a suitable response, is needed for group cohesion.

Integration and fulfillment of needs
Members of the church should feel rewarded in some way for their participation in the community. The rewards would depend on your level of participation - "you only get out to it what you put into it". Thus, the rewards enjoyed by those who are 'committed' will usually be different from those on the periphery of the church fellowship.
Shared emotional connection
There are plenty of examples of members of my church having a strong sense of 'shared history' - you only have to go back to the recent 'Battle For Bull Centre' celebrations for that. Shared participation will of course depend on the individual, as discussed above.

A point to emphasise is of course to remember that as a Christian community, our own Saviour is an integral part of our fellowship. You may like to reread the four points above in the light of that. And remember that when we read about 'influence', it's often via biblical teachings that God influences us, even the leadership team, and for all of us to respond.

1 comment:

christine said...

i love it so far babe