Embracing Today's Community

Every couple of months, Bay Hills hosts a meeting of area EFCA pastors led by Dr. Gil Stieglitz in which we discuss leadership, struggles, and church in general. Yesterday we had a great discussion on Commitment and Community. It was interesting to hear the different perspectives from pastors of all ages (of course I was the youngest), church sizes, and backgrounds.

One thing that we really landed on was adjusting our expectations for commitment and community. The brutal truth is that things have changed. The church is no longer the center of the Universe for church people. With so much going on in people's life good church attendance has changed from every week (with the exception of a vacation here or there) to 2-3 weeks per month. Along with this, the definition of community has changed as well.

The new communities are getting smaller and larger at the same time. Communities are getting smaller in that people have a small circle of close friends to hang out with face to face and generally seem to keep the same people in their inner circle. However, our casual relationships are getting much larger but they aren't face to face. The new (not that new but churches are always behind) casual communities are found on Facebook, Twitter, and through blogs like this one. I actually had a conversation with a friend of mine, Amir, from my high school soccer team. We hadn't talked since I graduated in '99 but we were talking smack about football and soccer like we saw each other yesterday. My wife, Beth has huge amounts of people who keep up with our kids through her blog. Every time we see people in person who follow her blog they say I feel like I've known Karoline and Anderson their whole lives. Many churches have started online campuses with full services, chat rooms, etc. to reach out to people who normally wouldn't step foot in a church.

"These are the things the church has to embrace" was the point I tried to make. Some objections were that its not "real" community and face to face is what it takes to really be a church. However right these objections may be, the fact is that we can either embrace this new community or give up on them. I don't like giving up.

More churches and pastors have to embrace technology. Every church has to have podcasts (probably every ministry within a church). Every pastor has to blog (and not just in their free time but as an outreach tool everyday). And if your church isn't actively pursuing relationships on Facebook, MySpace, whatever, you are missing out on a huge outreach opportunity.

All this being said, I could be wrong. But trust me, I'm not.

I'll talk more about commitment lately.