Churchless Community?

How do you experience community, if you don’t go to church?

That’s one of the questions I am asking myself as I am trying to figure out what I believe at this point in my life; and I have an answer: like everyone else.

I enjoy people and connect with them wherever and however the opportunity arises. I don’t need a special meeting or program for that.

You can’t make relationships happen. A worship service where you are looking at the back of each other’s heads while attending a staged presentation won’t do it. Not even a small group will necessarily bring people together in meaningful relationships. The fact is they can happen anywhere, but you cannot engineer it.

I was a pastor for over twenty years and almost all of my relationships were with church people, because that’s where I spent most of my time. I developed lifelong friendships, but I was also surprised how quickly others fell away when I stepped out of the institutional church.

Part of the structure of Christian teaching has been to have believer friends for fellowship and non believing friends for evangelism. Now that feels a bit weird and manipulative. Some people are supposed to build me up spiritually and I am supposed to do the same for them. Others are a means to an end, I keep them as friends so I can witness to them and get them saved.

Here’s a different way of approaching friendships: act like a friend, love them, forgive them, help them, laugh with them, and cry with them. Work along with God is already doing in their life.

Love.

Period.

It really is the most transformative thing we can do. No membership, no program, no special training, no appointed hour, no special building, no certain kind of people are necessary.

 

Love. Just love.

I think a good goal is to try to never miss an opportunity to love.

 

Photo: Public Domain

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is the author of An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith. He encourages independent minded people of faith through his writing, speaking, consulting, and one-on-one relationships.
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6 Comments

  1. I did not know that you could ‘go’ to church, I only thought you could ‘be’ church. Yes you can gather with church… but…

  2. I like that you admit that after twenty years as a pastor you are still figuring things out. Same for me, after being in the church system for fifty years I am doing the same. The system just doesn’t work. We think of the church as a building or organization and fellowship is sitting with a group of people listening to one person talk while we just look at the back of a person’s head. Church to me is a community of believers who walk with God daily. Fellowship happens as God brings 2 or 3 people together any day, any place. To me the Spirit is our teacher and guide, not a person standing in front of me once a week telling me what they think God is saying. After being out of the organized church my wife and I have found God bringing people into our lives when we least expect it for fellowship and encouragement. The important part was as you said “act like a friend, love them, forgive them, help them, laugh with them, and cry with them. Work along with God” {with what he} “is already doing in their life”. Thanks Glenn for a very good article.

  3. I would so love to come together and focus on the love the Father has put in our hearts and just truly get know one another and encourage one another.

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