Here you will find resources of knowledge to help direct you in the desire for community in your life. The focus of this blog is to concentrate on practical advice that reveals insights into how human beings were designed to live and function together. When applied correctly, this information should bring forth a rich and effective experience of community in your life.
Attempting to love your neighbor as yourself can be discouraging. There are times when you can feel alone in your endeavors. You might feel like you’re the one who always has to do the initiating. You might feel like your effort is disproportionate to the effort of those around you.
It’s at these times when the temptation to retreat into an individualistic lifestyle will feel quite strong. You’ll start to think thoughts like “I can survive just fine on my own. Why should I put all this effort into these relationships when there’s not much reciprocation?”
Control breeds loneliness
If you feel alone, your problem may be the one I’ve dealt with along the way…you’re trying to do it ALONE. And if you’re trying to do it alone, it’s likely that you’re doing so because you want to be in control. You want the activities to be what YOU plan. You want them to be when YOU want them to be. Because you think you know what needs to happen. If this is the case, you can bet you won’t have much success with experiencing something organic and healthy.
One of two things are bound to happen. 1) You turn into an institution with top-down control or 2) you disintegrate. I can testify of personal experience with both. I’ll share just one of them now.
People are going to bug you. Of course, you never bug them, right?
One of the biggest obstacles that exists in the development of relationships and community is how we handle annoyances. The truth is most of us aren’t very good at it. Most parents don’t train their kids at it because most parents aren’t trained at it.
The problem here is that in the places where people don’t learn how to handle these situations, there you will find a lack of community. Or you will find a young community that hasn’t imploded from within yet.
Truth be told, this is one of the main reasons why the institutional church structure is so popular in many cultures (although most people aren’t cognitively aware this is the case). It limits annoyance between people to as low of a level you can go and still feel justified enough to call yourself a “community” of believers. You get together once in a while, have very little interaction, and you can always retreat to the comfort of your own home or flee to another institution (who hasn’t done THAT before right!?).
The best way forward, then, is to invest time in relationships with those who seem open and responsive. When you sense that people are responding to your efforts to neighbor well, then invest time and energy in them. If they don’t, be secure enough to move on.
As a person grows more mature in Christ, a by-product of this growth will be an obvious attempt to love their neighbors more consistently over time. But, this does not mean the neighbors will always be liked…or that they’ll always like you! It also doesn’t mean they’ll be as interested in a relationship with you as you are with them.
Yes, technology and architecture have been major factors in the destruction of the experience of community in our culture. If you so dare to take the plunge and swim upstream against these cultural currents, there’s an obstacle you will encounter that’ll be the hardest of all to deal with. It may be the biggest reason we’re so attracted to the types of churches that are prevalent today. It’s people’s emotional issues.
As we all know from experience, it’s inevitable (no matter how much you like someone) that you will eventually encounter unhealthy issues inside of everyone that you develop relationships with. This is when the fun ends and the hard work begins.
When a community of reciprocity is created, there are real opportunities to serve and be served. Then a neighborhood becomes less isolated and more self-sufficient as a whole. A feeling of “we can do this together” is created, and that’s healthy. -The Art of Neighboring
There is a programmed tendency in the human brain that makes community possible. It’s called reciprocity. Reciprocity is the tendency to feel like you want to give back to someone when they give to you (not that you “owe” them something). When this innate tendency functions as it was designed to, bonds are formed between people and relationships grow. When the tendency is rejected or abused, it causes division, suspicion and lack of trust (It’s used as a sales technique all the time).
You’ve been taught a myth
We’ve all been hammered with teaching about giving and can easily recite cliche phrases like “it’s better to give than receive.” This is a myth by the way. Neither is better than the other. For if you’re unbalanced either way in your relationships, it’s not healthy. It means you’re not a part of a reciprocal two-way relationship.