The first ingredient: Large Segments of Time.
The number one reason people gather is to belong, to love and be loved, celebrate and be celebrated, especially under a common cause or banner. When this happens in an environment that allows large segments of time for people to connect, strong bonding takes place and a long lasting community is formed. This is true for families, friends and neighborhoods as well. The larger quantity of time you spend with each other, the deeper the bond. The quality time argument doesn’t hold water when it comes to bonding. It takes a large dose of time, with quality interaction to create true bonds.
Let’s measure the modern church system in regards to creating an environment for a long lasting biblical community to form.
The church meeting time is about two hours at the most. Most of that time we are sitting, standing and singing in a row of chairs facing forward. Than we go home. Very little face to face time takes place. There are many strangers in a crowd. This happens week after week after week in the majority of churches.
Small Home Groups which includes youth and singles groups are about two hours at the most. This venue has more opportunity for face to face interaction. It is a mini version of a larger church meeting. The small group venue usually supports the promotion of the larger church vision. It is in simple terms, another church meeting, just smaller. People still prefer it more because they can interact, even if it is limited in time. Since the group usually meets in the middle of the week, it can be a challenge to let go of stress because the kids have to go to school the next day and people have to get up early in the morning for work.
The intentions are good, but small groups are structured in a way that does not allows enough time for deep bonding to take place. It does however open up a window for those that participate to see and sense there is something desired or missing of what could be possible. It nags at us, frustrates us because we have to go home just as we are starting to relax and bond. We sense a depth of biblical community is possible, only for it to elude our grasp.
Volunteering can allow more time to interact in a working environment depending on the task. Similar to the interaction one might experience at their job or place of business. I still have friends across the country who I was fortunate to work with in ministry together. It was an uplifting and valued use of my time, but most of our time was in a working environment supporting the ministry system. We give of our limited time for a leaders vision, believing the time we give will produce transformational results. The bigger we get the more isolated we become. This is about where most staff and volunteer burn-out takes place. We find ourselves spending more time supporting the crowd and ministry vs interacting in a biblical community.
The fledgling house church movement has so much promise, yet has had its challenges getting off the ground to become a mainstream catalyst of developing long lasting biblical communities. Even though their was more opportunity to allow time to create bonds, cultural and old church system habits interfered with the true potential available to the home church movement. Time is less of an issue in this movement however other issues are at play that need to be addressed and will be tackled in future posts.
So what is the answer?
The scriptures give us the answer.
In the book of Genesis, the Creator gives us an opportunity to let go of time itself. It is a 24 hour period of time laid aside for the Creator and his creation to spend time together and become a family. It is at this time that we can truly form the biblical community we all desire. Let me bring it to a deeper level.
Eternity is outside of the boundaries of time. It is also something we can experience on this earth together for one day every week. We don’t have to die to experience eternity with him, We get one rotation of the earth every week as a trial run to experience what it is like.
We can take advantage of the 24 hour period and make it the richest time of our week and our lives. The results when put into action, will result in a lifestyle that will transform you and produce a biblical community beyond your wildest dreams. So stay tuned. I’ll break it all down in the next post.