Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Tangible Unity

During class last night we ended our discussion with talk of how unified the tribes of Israel became, especially after their conquest through the land of Canaan (seen in the book of Joshua). What was striking was the unity of these different tribes, living together in the same land. Our conversation moved away from the ancient days of Israel into our current context. The question was posed, “How will others recognize/tangibly see unity among our communities?” We can become unified by certain dogmas or beliefs, but will others outside our communities actually see our connectedness? One idea that sprung up was the idea of halting integration among the group. What I mean is not having a youth group or college group or young married group or preteen group in our churches but seeing the individual as one person who makes up the larger community. This could help our integration as a body and purposely join those that might never talk to each other or encounter one another outside of Sunday mornings. Churches can do a great job of putting a person where “they” think he or she needs to fit, all the while making them feel more segregated among the larger group. No group feels more separate from the community than the singles classes/groups in churches (my general assumption/opinion). So how can we bring forth the notion of unity?

I would suggest first asking God what he desires for your community to be in your particular setting. (Doug Pagitt’s book makes this point extremely clear.) Secondly, depending on your answer from the first question, I would propose a community that sees someone as apart of the community rather than a separate entity in the many subgroups churches contain. If a 15 year old enters the building, the church sees him or her as a 15 year old, not as someone who needs to be in the youth group. (Pagitt again brings more clarity on such an issue in his book) Granted there are times where we need to be around others our own age. But if we truly seek a monastic experience with each other, won’t we yearn to live among the entire community, crying babies and elderly hard-of-hearing people too? What if during our time together, we didn’t dismiss the children to “children’s church” but incorporated them into the worship? What if those kids could witness how their parents and other adults pray, sing, dance, and worship together? What if we rethought our educational/learning process and create avenues for people to learn via mentoring, experiential style teaching, social activism, etc? What if we walked after this ideal called “community” more intentionally instead of throwing around the term as some quaint dream state?