Thursday, November 8, 2007

community of strangers

At Ecclesiax, we want to be a community. We don't want to be a church that people come to on Sundays, kinda get some kind of spiritual fix, and then leave until the next week, without getting into each others' lives. However, it seems that for many people we are a church that people come to on Sundays, get some kind of spiritual fix (I hope . . .), and then leave until the next week, without getting into each others' lives. And, I don't know know what to do about that. It seems that we need to have things going outside of Sunday, where people can get to know each in a smaller setting or through having a more hands-on shared experience. We need small groups and events, but to have small groups and events, we need people to lead them, and we need people to come to them. We've tried some things over the past few years where there's been pretty dismal turn-out. Even the craft workshops (which, by the way, are great) have more non-members than members. So, how do we get people coming? And do we get to throw up our hands if they don't come to what we offer, but then complain that they don't feel connected? How much of creating a community is the responsibility of the church leadership, and how much is the responsibility of the people who want to plug into it?

I am tired today, so I don't have many answers to this, or even the ability to flesh out the issues completely, but it's something that's been on my mind this week.


Tara said...

Wow. Very well stated. I share your frustration... how to make community a reality. If you figure out some trick let me know!

senatorsmith said...

I have been pondering the same thing.
I have ended up putting more pressure on myself. I have also renewed interest in revisiting my Interpersonal & Group Dynamics notes.

We are a complicated species.
We tend to form our self concepts through interaction with others and through participation in society.

How many of us really interact much with individuals, that are otherwise strangers to us? It's not the social norm to act in that fashion. How easy is it for any of us to introduce ourselves to complete strangers?

How easy is it to join a somewhat intimate group, with a bunch of strangers?

Scary stuff... I never had the pleasure of going on a blind date, perhaps that is a good comparison.

But, it apparently is a challenge being bestowed upon us...?

I concluded awhile ago, that in order for me to REALLY grow, I have to do the things that I am not comfortable doing. It's hard, it's scary, it's clumsy, but for me, it's the only way I can figure that I can really learn.

But I think that goes for ALL of us... but then again, then cynic in me says we live in a society where everyone feels a digusting sense of entitlement... meh.

Had to get some angst out.
Is there a board meeting Thursday?

el Maggie said...

Hey Sen,
I totally agree that it is against human nature to reach out and get to know strangers - which makes the whole concept of church difficult. The point is to be a COMMUNITY, but you have to get from point a to point b through shared experiences.

I also agree that it's us in "leadership" who have to figure out how to make this happen. We can't just say "well, I managed to get into this group and feel like I belong" . . . . we have to turn around and make other people feel like part of the group. But, I agree with you that for someone to really get plugged in, we can only do so much - they are ultimately going to have to take the plunge and be vulnerable. Where we have really failed is where someone has taken that plunge and we've left them hanging.

And yup, we have a meeting on Thursday.

Wheatsheaf said...

How about a drive-thru: "can I get an Our Father and three Amens to go?"

A community is only as strong as those committed to it. Church leadership plays a role, but so to do the parishioners. The active a Church is encouraging activities the stronger is should be. At the same time we all attend (or don't attend) service for different reasons. You cannot force people into being involved, but there is nothing wrong with being proactive and seeking those who usually are too busy with life to take part.