‘Community’ – the word keeps popping up everywhere! I see it in bills at the Capitol, on various bulletin boards, and even in real estate agents’ slogans. There is a postmodern preoccupation with the concept of community, but it is used by different people in many different ways. Even Webster has trouble nailing it down: its definition can range from a “unified body of individuals” to “society at large.” How, then, do we talk about church community as distinct from other definitions of community? Instead of answering this question myself, I asked two people who have made the decision to join Christ Church what they were looking for (or found) in our community that led them to stay. I was moved and encouraged by what they said and would like to share their responses:
“I knew the first time that I visited Christ Church that it would probably be my church home. I felt a spiritual depth, a missional focus, and a commitment to God’s word, but most of all I felt welcomed. I could sense that people knew each other and cared about each other and I felt welcomed into your midst. The first time you come to a church is always hard because you don’t know anyone (or not many people) and it feels awkward to have to reach out and try to make friends, but the first time I came several people introduced themselves to me and introduced me to others. It took the burden off me. Within a month I was involved in a small group and because people already had deep open relationships, I was able to move right in at a deep level. That is a real blessing.”
“The first time we visited Christ church I knew we would be coming back, because I know all three of us have never felt as close to God in church as we felt that day. The service was beautiful and Cliff was great, but it was the warmth and love of the congregation that made it complete and made us feel at home. Lily is really the one that put it into words – she said she had never felt as close to God as she did in church that day.”
I hope that people who visit Christ Church continue to encounter God in our church community, through hospitality and our desire to love others in real and authentic relationships.