As promised I'm following up the post below with some responses to Tobias Jones, who spent time travelling and living in different communities, to understand and explore the oft expressed desire of people for 'authentic community'.
Taking his findings I've reworked some of them as suggestions for church community, let me know what you think of them.
1. By-Product: Gathering for and to achieve â€˜communityâ€™ is a conceit, and illusive, we need a focus other than â€˜community, it is byproduct of doing something meaningful together.
2. Need: We donâ€™t need each other any more in a consumer society, and community is about needing. We can get by without each other any more, consumerism means we can buy the things we need. We gift ourselves to each other, as we need others.
3. Renounce Choice: Community cannot be built if you are going to leave. The closing of choices, of choosing finality leads to community. How many of us think we are going to somewhere better later, and we hold ourselves back in the meantime. Consumer choice, the holding open in non commitment, be it where I live, my relationships my job, stops community.
4. Open and Focused: Being open to others, so a process of constant learning and growth, but also doing so focused around mission and core stabilities enables community.
5. Clear Rules: Rules about beliefs and actions, and practices rather than â€˜be who you want to be, come and play and be communityâ€™. Rules of faith, rules of mission, beliefs and values that are articulated and practiced produce communities.
6. Community Aesthetics: Talk about community doesnâ€™t make community, nor does re-ording the aesthetics of community life unless it is in service to these other issues. Community is doing life together in all itâ€™s mess.
7. Hierarchy, & Leadership: are needed for community, openness to the leading from others and learning, letting go of my right to chose all the time etc, produce community. Too much hierachy kills community, too little kills community too. We need coaches, mentors, trainers, disciplers etc.
8. Shared Labour: Working together (physically especially), serving together produces community. See St Benedict to Simone Weil.