Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Individualism: We Have a Problem

Today, I am going to make my 2nd post of 12 in the series that I am working on called "Connecting the Church". This series is taking a look at the book and seeing where and how it applies to the church and to my life. I think that there is valuable information all through the book. For this section, I will be using seven quotes and summaries in the book and explaining their impact to me.

The hard to swallow premise is that today's church is not a community but rather a collection of individuals.

I agree with him and this is a very difficult pill "to swallow". Individuals across America fill our churches with their agenda and to "feed themselves". Not only that, but they often do it seperated from their own family. The reason is "consumerism". We have to have something for everyone. Anyways, individuals come into church and go to their pew, seat or .......... and do not interact with anyone. Ehey are there for their hour and go home waiting till next week. Then, they wonder why ?? The reason, we come as an individualistic society. Take a look around at how most communities (neighborhoods) live ... they do not interact with one another. They come home from work and stay behind their "forteresses". However ....

Deep down people want community but don't know how to get it.

Individuals really want to connect with others. They want to "belong". They want to have that close friend that will be with them through thick and thin. But, they have no clue how to achieve it. Our churches think that they are doing them a "service" by developing small groups. But, the small groups are failing at a high rate because the small groups are "not ran" as a bilbical community.

A researcher Wuthnow brings to the surface the fact that most small groups do not enter the group with a common sense of beliefs and purposes. Rather, everyone carries his or her own individual sets of beliefs and purposes.

It is tough. Once again, it points back to individualism and the problem that lies with it. If (when) individuals get together; they must come together with a sense of common beliefs and purposes. When this occurs, growth can occur and community can start to take place. HOWEVER, it is very important that these groups common goal, purpose and belief are rooted in biblical truths.

Wuthnow suggests that one of the major problems with small groups in America is that people do not enter these groups with a common undestanding and commitment to these basic tenets of the Christian faith.

If a group does not have a understanding and commitment of the biblical truths, they are going to be in serious trouble. They will most likely be a fish out of the water.

Later on in the series, we will be looking at the Christian tenets and what the groups need to hold on to, embrace and understand to be a thriving community.

I have heard individuals say that we are living in a different time, people are individualistic, thus we must cater to that ministry area. This cannot be. This is not what God has created or designed us for. He has created us to be in community with one another.

The solution cannot be to abandon the principles of community for the principles of individualism; the solution is to provide boundaries and promote healthy principles of community.

Thus, we need to come up with a way that we can create and promote authentic communities where individuals will be connected to one another and be doing so under the guidance of God and biblical truths.

When we do this, life can be messy. We will be exposing ourselves to others and all of our "yuck". We will also be seeing their short-comings. With this, we need to see how Jesus dealt with the situation.

Jesus always dealt with people in a grace-filled way.

We must do the same. Grace is a very difficult aspect to understand and it is a very tough line to walk when you are dealing with individuals; especially individuals that are having major struggles in their lives.

This is going to be difficult and it is going to be difficult because of the following statement:

The prevailing mind-set of individualism is a serious obstacle to community.

We need to teach and model that there is more to life than just me and my family. We must interact with others. We must develop a community of believers around us who will journey in life with us. We must come together around a common purpose and we must reach out beyond ourselves.

The Series

Entry 1: Introduction to the Series and Book
Entry 2: Individualism
Entry 3: Five Characteristics of Community Around a Purpose
Entry 4: 10 Ancient Christian Beliefs
Entry 5: 10 Ancient Christian Practices
Entry 6: 10 Ancient Christian Virtues
Entry 7: Seven Functions of a Biblical Community
Entry 8: The 4 I's
Entry 9: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Common Place
Entry 10: Consumerism Mentality
Entry 11: 5 Characteristics of Community Around Possessions
Entry 12: Dreams of Community & Conclusion

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