The Dimming Church - Why Community is a Three-Way Street
In Acts 2, koinonia is introduced into the post-resurrection picture as joint participation in communion, sovereignly designed to preserve the authenticity of relationship:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” ~ Acts 2:42-43 (ESV)
Note the catch in verse 43: “And all who believed were together…”
Talk about a simple yet profound point! At the day of Pentecost, we, as believers, were given a Spirit-led template to cultivate and foster exemplary fellowship in a transparent way. Yet, flash forward two millenniums into a time when distractions are at an all-time high, and can we honestly assign words like "exemplary" and "transparent" to the eminence of modern church community? Regardless of stance, it's important to understand how community alone can’t maintain its authenticity if the church is divided among believers who neglect accountability for the sake of personal agenda.
Before I continue, let the record show I’m an advocate of the church being externally active in extending the Gospel outside the sanctuary; however, it’s important for believers to be mindful how the internal structure of koinonia can be hindered. For when community loses its God-centered authenticity, it's only a matter of time before the church turns into a gas station, where truth is fuel, and the social landscape becomes a non-romantic verison of "Christian Mingle". And in today’s individualized society where everything is compartmentalized and young people possess a sixth sense in detecting counterfeit community, “koinonia” can easily disengage from worship, especially when priorities are misaligned and our needs are equalized to God’s want.
Perhaps the crux of the issue lies in how "personal agenda" collides with "church agenda". Granted, I’ve only been alive for a quarter-century and my observations only carry so much weight; however, I’m fairly confident the church has grown significantly among certain demographics: soccer moms, workaholic dads, homebodies, social media addicts, church hoppers, the easily offended and parents who place a premium on their kids’ success and emotional state over everything else.
Don’t get me wrong; I fully believe in expanding the qualities of Christian community into extra-curricular activities and positioning yourself to be daily led by the Spirit. But sometimes, I can’t help but feel Christians are just as bad when it comes to rushing through life, failing to look both ways before proceeding through the intersections of life.
In order to be effective witnesses, we need to be able to discern the difference between pouring out and soaking in, while realizing being like Christ requires a balanced application of both. And since achieving this balance isn’t always easy, it should be no surprise how the lines between temporary experience and ones with eternal value can become blurred.
Contrarily, if we treat community like a lock-in, then we’re essentially stiff-arming the Great Commission for the sake of personal intimacy, which like the overly busy believer, can result in spiritual stagnation if pursuit becomes idol (Note: the heart of this dilemma is brilliantly captured by the latest Willow Creek findings - see prior blog @ http://deepfryedmind.blogspot.com/2013/07/cliii-fat-christianity.html).
For the church to grow, it has to get real. So why not ask ourselves: Is the church becoming the poster entity of hallow community? After all, we know we need it. We love to have it. But ultimately, the quality of koinonia can only be as deep as the point where everyone starts raising their walls (i.e. agenda, busyness, insecurities, misaligned priorities, etc.).