“We are a people who value the church. We seek to bring people together for worship, community, teaching, learning, and ministry.”
This is the first of InFaith’s Ministry Essentials that stood out to me. Catalyst for Community.
Prior to finding the job announcement for InFaith’s Expansion Coach, I had never heard about InFaith. This was partly because they had changed their name just three years before, but I had never heard of American Missionary Fellowship either…
But regardless of all that, one of the things that attracted me to the organization were the ministry essentials. In fact, seeing them was an important reason why I applied. In this series of blog posts, I’m going to share why I think these ministry essentials are so important and how they drew me to InFaith.
Catalyst for Community
Community is a tough word. It is riddled with ambiguity. It is a deep desire that we want to see in our churches, with our neighbors, among our friends, and in our lives, yet we struggle to experience it. When we find ourselves in the midst of community, we sometimes get sick of it and just want to be alone or retreat back to some safe place where it doesn’t exist.
The word has come into renewed focus both inside and outside the church. In the context of a secular, media-saturated, “me” culture that idolizes unfettered individual expression and personal freedom as the ultimate experience of reality, we are beginning to realize that there is more to life than me. We realize it’s true that “no man is an island.” No woman, either. In the halls of many seminaries and Bible schools it’s conventional faire to emphasize that God’s very self is community (though like many things, the pulpit may be a little behind in getting the message). The trinity is an impossible-to-wrap-our-heads-around notion that God is plurally One. This Community is perfect unity in diversity. The unity-in-diversity Ultimate Being is imaged in us. This is why we all yearn for community where we can experience more authenticity and intimacy with others.
We yearn for it because we’re made for it. This is why I want to be a catalyst for community.
Despite the renewed focus on community, I can’t help but see contradictions all around me. Jesus is said to have broken down all the dividing walls among us. In Christ, we read, there is no Jew or Greek, free or slave, male or female. The Christ event reconciled our ethnic/racial, economic, and gender/sexual relationships. That all sounds really great until I look around me. I see a country that continues to struggle with its racial past and hasn’t yet figured out how to live in its diverse present. I see report after report that inequality between rich and poor continues to grow, both inside and outside the U.S. And I see a society that cannot equally celebrate, respect and understand the differences and similarities between men, women, and those caught in between. Despite the dividing lines that Christ has broken down, we are still unable to live together in harmony as unique and diverse individuals.
We yearn for community because we don’t experience it. This is why I want to be a catalyst for community.
If we yearn for community because we are made for it and if we yearn for it because we don’t experience it, then what would it look like if more of us were motivated to be catalysts for community? How would our lives change? How would our bank statements change? How would our families and friendships change? How would our churches change? I hope that we would see more worship, community, teaching, learning, and ministry. I hope that we would see lives transformed. I hope that we would see churches with more diversity, more unity, more celebration of what makes us different, more proclamation of Who brings us together!
This is one of the reasons why I am excited about InFaith. This is one of the essentials to ministry that I believe can guide people to more fully live in their role in God’s mission to make all things new.