The holy grail of church planting in my opinion is the building of a community. The way we traditionally do this is by planning activities in our church buildings and we put on meetings. That is we create structured environments in which people can meet and greet. I am not saying there is anything wrong with community building activities and structured meetings that have a purpose. But once again we must not confuse the finger pointing to the moon for the moon itself.
The meeting, the activity that we use to promote the sense of community is like the scaffolding you put up when you build a house. Once the house is built the scaffolding should come down. Community then is what happens between the meetings and activities. It is all the ways we are tied together and our lives are entwined in every ordinary moment. It is having someone to call when we are alone, it is meeting in the streets and deciding to have a spontaneous coffee. It is sharing meals together on weeknights, it is the children playing together in the park.
The community can be built around a church activity or a weekly gathering, but the community should transcend the structure become organic and have a life of it’s own. I think if you can point to it and say this is it there is our community, then you have missed it or rather reduced it to something structured when in fact community is organic, it is messy, it is life it is the web of all our relationships it is our utter interdependence made manifest.
To me it is the true purpose of church to create a community within which we can be safe enough to be vulnerable and be transformed by love.