Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Creating Community

So did any of you see my darling bride on Dancing with the Stars last night? Thanks to the generosity of Shelley Lane, who happens to have a cousin who works with CBS in Burbank, Mandy and Shelley were privileged to be in the audience for last night's episode of Dancing with the Stars.


Based on a recommendation from my co-worker Joe, I read Andy Stanley and Bill Willits's book Creating Community: 5 Keys to Building a Small Group Culture. The first-half of the book was especially intriguing to me as they discussed community and the necessity of relationship within a healthy church. "Some want to belong before they are willing to believe" (95) and "we want to do ministry in the context of relationship in communities, not on committees" (87) were two of the more intriguing insights from the book.

Early on in the book, they cite a passage from John Ortberg in his book Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them that speaks of the necessity of human relationship in sustaining faith:

"What is striking is that the Fall has not yet occurred (speaking of Adam prior to the creation of Eve). There is no sin, no disobedience, nothing to mar the relationship between God and man. The human being is in a state of perfect intimacy with God. Each word he and God speak with each other is filled with closeness and joy; he walks with God in the garden in the cool of the day. He is known and love to the core of his being by his omniscient, love-filled Creator. Yet the word God uses to describe him is 'alone.' And God says this aloneness is 'not good.'

Sometimes in church circles when people feel lonely, we will tell them not to expect too much from human relationships, that there is inside every human being a God-shaped void that no other person can fill. That is true. But apparently, according to the writer of Genesis, God creates inside this man a kind of 'human-shaped void' that God himself will not fill.

No substitute will fill this need in you for human relationship. Not money. Not achievement. Not busy-ness. Not books. Not even God himself. Even though this man was in a state of sinless perfection, he was 'alone.' And it was 'not good'" (30).

Stanley and Willits conclude their discussion on the need for meaningful, deep relationships within the church this way:

"Living life without meaningful connection is not good because it's not what God intended for us. Isolation tends to bring with it devastating relational sicknesses. But it's also not good because we were created for relationship. Living life alone does not accurately reflect the One whose image we bear" (34).