Summary: The environments where Kingdom community can naturally emerge have been mostly eliminated from where people spend most of their time. If we desire to be a part of a Kingdom lifestyle in our culture, median spaces need to be re-implemented into our daily lives.
Where healthy community develops
When it comes to your spectrum of personal interaction, you’ve got public spaces that strangers can occupy where you’ll still feel comfortable (parks, malls, etc). On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got intimate spaces that are only comfortable when a few select people in your life occupy them (bedrooms, bathrooms, love seats, etc). In-between are the zones between public and private space that are meant to be safe places for social and personal interaction. They are the median spaces.
These are the spaces where healthy community is given a chance to develop. This is because by nature, they are neutral spaces with no strings attached. In these spaces, no one is pressured to or expected to come closer. They are perfect for providing you the freedom to form relationships with others as you wish.
Prior to the 1940s and 50s, the front porch was probably the most popular of these spaces. Spontaneous interaction occurred between members of communities as they went about their daily lives. This happened simply because the front porch provided an appropriate space where neighbors were frequently visible and available to each other. In this space, people could be invited to be closer than strangers but didn’t have to be close personal friends to come in. It provided a space to get to know one another before feeling comfortable with inviting people into the personal space inside the home.
But then they started to disappear. As suburban culture emerged due to changes in technology, people lives became physically fragmented. Where they worked, ate, slept, socialized, worshiped, etc. increasingly came to be done in separate places. Town church buildings and corners stores became things of the past replaced by remote religious campuses and strip malls. Instead of walking down the street, people started driving cars into garages. Instead of sitting on the porch, people stayed in their personal spaces watching TV in the comfort of air conditioning.
Since this was the case, houses started being built that were more fortess-like. The faces of many houses became the garage; while the front entrances were relegated to a couple steps up to the front door (which no one uses anymore).
All of these lifestyle changes worked together to build a blueprint for isolation that we see today when we drive through our neighborhoods. The spaces where social interaction naturally and comfortably takes place have largely been eliminated.