photo by Anna Detrich

This past Saturday I had the joy of sharing with Emerge leaders. Emerge is a ministry at Christ Community Church that is “young professionals seeking Christ in community”. One of the leaders approached me to share with them, and pretty much gave me free reign. I presented some ideas to them, and they were receptive to it.

While I prepped the talk, the focus of it evolved toward the concept of communitas. The idea comes from Alan Hirsch, who says “mission + trust = communitas”.

Here’s a video about communitas.

One of the dangers at a church like CCC is comfort. I hear it from a faction of people within the walls of CCC who aren’t willing to engage in the mission of God. They want the staff to do all the work for some new ministry they want without doing any of the work themselves. They aren’t willing to engage their neighbors, but will talk about them to whoever will listen at church. They aren’t willing to engage the entire city of Omaha, but talk down the parts of the city they themselves do not live in and hope to never visit. They want to keep the “sick of this world” in a quarantine, so to speak, far away from the “healthy of this world”.*

*And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
-Luke 5:30-32 (ESV)

Church becomes a place of comfort, escape and happy talk. Reality? People develop spiritual laziness, a nice way of saying they nurture their selfishness.

I don’t think community for the sake of community offers much depth. There needs to be a point, a mission. I wanted that to be imparted to Emerge. I wanted them to think beyond themselves, and think about the world around them. I didn’t want them to just feel empathy* toward the sin and injustice around them, I wanted them to act and address it.

*New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a brilliant column about the limits of empathy. If you have fine minutes, please read it.

I called my friend Paul Gardner, a staff member at Coram Deo Church Community, to assist me with this talk. Paul and I were in a journey group together, and he was part of the team that was sent out from CCC to launch Coram Deo. He leads and coaches all missional communities* at Coram Deo. One of the things about Coram Deo is the emphasis on mission, church planting and missional communities. It’s embedded in their DNA.

*A missional community is a group of people (small group) committed to Jesus, being shaped by his gospel, and living on His mission together.

Paul and I didn’t have much time to work on our talks, but it was easy because this is something that is a part of the core of our  beliefs. Did we do a good job with our presentation? Well, I’m sure there are things we could’ve improved upon, but that’s not important to me. What’s important to me is if the Emerge leaders act, if they get involved with mission, if they, in the words of Mayor Cory Booker, “Do somethin’!”

There is a world around us in need. Whether or not people want to acknowledge it in the more affluent parts of Omaha, there is injustice in this city. Poverty affects thousands of people. Hopelessness is there. What is one going to do? Ignore it and just go to church on Sunday mornings? Or, are they going to be the church to their neighbor, community and city throughout the week?

The task can seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. Jesus calls people to go into the world, not to escape from it. People have not arrived just because they are married, have kids and live a middle-class lifestyle.

I’m continuing to grow and learn about what it means to “love thy neighbor”. I’m continuing to see how I need to repent for my past inaction. I’m continuing to make sure that I am on mission. My mission? To creatively and effectively love God, my family, Omaha and the world. This is what I am all about.

2 thoughts on “Retreat Talk about Communitas

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