We left our home church of over 12 years recently, which was sad but necessary for reasons not relevant to this posting. In an exciting twist, some dear friends at that same time were called to plant a church here in Tulsa. It is called the Burgh. A burgh is a fortified community and that is exactly what the Burgh is striving to be.
The newness of it begs the participant to ponder what it means to be in community. Is community simply the people around you or is it something deeper? And for it to be deeper, does it mean the biblical model of shared purse and food and all that? Or can it be something deeper but in the middle between the two?
There are plenty of others out there desiring to live in a community and I think the common thread is "doing life together." Whatever that means. In college, a group of us spent the summer living in community at the beach. It was by turns confrontational, inspirational and frustrating. And I still, after almost 20 years, know and care deeply for some of these people.
My best friend lives in a deliberate community in Pittsburgh, where they moved into a block of deteriorating homes and reclaimed the street for the glory of God. They play together, eat together, and worship together, but not always. And by her accounts, her experience is much like mine. It can be incredibly annoying to have people you know around you all the time. But the benefit of ever present support outweighs the downside.
I am mindful of when our last child was born, at home by design. We had the midwife and her assistant, as well as two dear friends from church. These women came and had a great time, ministering to us the entire time. They took care of our daughters, cooked all our favorite foods, brought me tea as I nursed my son for the first time, even decorated the kitchen to celebrate this new birth. They showed up in the morning to take the kids to school.
It was everything I wanted. A burgh is a group of people with common values fortified by the strength of their faith in each other as well as the blessings of a loving God we serve. Is it easy? No.Does it simply happen? No. Is it worth pursuing?
In a time when text messages are sometimes all that bind us to family and the common dinner is rushed through for the next event, I think we could all use a little genuine community. Facebook and MySpace boast large numbers of participants, chat rooms are always filled with thousands of people. I think they are all looking for the same thing: commonality, friendship, love and support.
What if we could get that with real human contact? What if we didn't have to search the web for friends but they were right were we needed them, whenever we needed them?