what is community? i'm sure that there are at least 6.5 billion current variations on the idea. a friend, m. fortson, painted an abstract scene that portrays a group of human figures, some touching each other, moving in different directions, some seeming to ascend, that bears the title "community." my wife likes it because she feels it expresses an "anglican" sense of community. it graced the wall of the fellowship at elias for a while, and now its over the fireplace in our kitchen.
the idea of community was pretty important in the beginning of elias, despite the fact that it undoubtedly has meant something different to each person along the way. after all, that's why it's part of the name.
the original conception was somewhere between the "communitas" concept of crm, the christian study center in gainesville, fl, and the art house of charlie peacock. anyone familiar with those organizations will probably be more confused by that description than helped. perhaps it will help to explain that in prayer about whether to embark on this journey i felt rather specifically led that i was not to impose my plan on this endeavor, but that "i will bring those i intend, and that will define the vision"
where there is no vision, the people perish. the clear vision for elias that took root, particularly with the billy's arrival, that elias was a community devoted to the fort hawkins neighborhood, whatever community meant. community was something to be explored. this is certainly broad.
in most churches, within the current "church growth model" we see a deliberate exploitation of homogeneity. we segment out a 'target audience' or a culture, or a demographic and focus on developing a comfort zone. this is a marketing scheme, and is successful, but i don't think it qualifies as community. i'm struggling with whether it qualifies as church or not. if it is jesus body and composed of very different parts, shouldn't we be celebrating and capitalizing on the difficult differences?