Community in a World Without Walls

Attending Ministry 2.0 this weekend, Dr. David Foster kicked off the conference with a talk titled Advancing Your Church in the Brave New Wall-less, Wireless, Worn-out World.

We as Christians have a choice in our rapidly changing world.  We can advance the church of Jesus Christ or we will become increasingly irrelevant.  It depends on our attitude toward the world we live in and the way we embrace the way it is changing. Here are a few thoughts:

Does community happen only when we meet at the church?

If community only happens in the church building or our small groups, what happens when gas prices top $4/gallon and some don’t come?  What if some illness or circumstance prevents attendance?  Does the church community cease to exist for them?

The church I attend has an exciting focus on church planting enabling them to plant churches that can tailor themselves to a local community.  This seems to them to follow an Acts 2 model – However, community in today’s world is increasingly not based on geography. 

Living in the bedroom community of Hutto where more than 85% of the people leave town to work elsewhere, it is already clear that their tie to the geography of Hutto is limited. But more than that, people clearly find their community around their interests and their relationships and the technological advances in our world make that increasingly easier to do.

Community in the Church or Church in the Community

Jason Reynolds shared a Case Study of an Online Church Campus. Their experience with offering this type of campus has caused them to redefine Community as “What God does in the midst of people to change lives.”

Community – What God does in the midst of people to change lives.

Their online simulcasts complete with chat communities and more have enabled them to empower those who cannot attend church. These member have not only found fellowship with a body of believers but have also established purpose that they previously believed impossible by being able to minister to others despite circumstances that isolate them physically. 

As we move from the attractional church model of providing community in the church to the missional model of living church in the community, we need to realize our community is not bound by the geography of their daily walking distance such as existed in Acts 2.  They are free agents who are free to participate in any culture, at any time, on whatever terms they desire.

Reaching Across the aisle or Reaching across world

Today’s modern technology now enables people to transcend simple information retrieval to find true, authentic community with people of any geography, culture, or time of their life.  In fact, they often seem to feel free to be more authentic and transparent in these communities than in the brick-and-mortal ritual of forced smiles and greetings imposed upon them during the church program.

If we are to reach people with the life-changing reality of Christ, we are going to have to continue to let our lives be changed to reach people in the communities in which they live.  Today’s social networking platforms may seem foreign – but that they are way less foreign than those communities that Paul and the other early missionaries had to breach. In fact, they are more like a personal guide to the culture of each and every person we meet – providing a platform to more easily speak their language, interact with them on their terms and overcome many of the barriers that previously limited our reach.  These tools can be a time-machine, a teleporter, a translator/guide, and a facilitator to real relationship that can make a difference in peoples lives.

This is just a little of the promise in Ministry 2.0.

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