What I've learned about communityWritten by Robert White
What's inside this article
After dropping the kids off at church, my wife and I head off to our favourite local coffee shop for our weekly date night. As we sit in the comfy chairs and sip our lattes, someone I know inevitably passes by and we end up chatting. Immediately afterward, my wife starts the “name game,” attempting to guess where I know each acquaintance from.
I’m not the town mayor, or even a well-known pastor. I am just part of a host of organizations and clubs that offer their members the opportunity to build relationships with like-minded people. And of all the organizations to which I’ve belonged, there are two that have taught me the most about community.
The "brotherhood" of Scouting became a part of my life again when we signed up our five-year-old son. In the decade since, as a leader, trainer and, most recently, chaplain, the camping trips, hikes and training weekends have forged valued friendships. Even now, when someone extends their left hand toward mine, in the Scout handshake, we immediately share an unspoken, but deep, bond.
In 2005, my membership in the fellowship of Rotary, a service club comprising regional business leaders, took our family to Chicago for its centennial convention. The trip was the first major family vacation we’d had and created memories we still talk about.
The Church community
In the end, though, only the Church has shown me how to live in community, the way God intended.
The living body of the Church, more than any "brotherhood" or "club," allows its members to feel one another’s pain and joy. Nothing demonstrated this more in my life than the group of Christian men with whom I share a weekly time of Bible study and accountability. Some time ago, I’d just begun a new job and was struggling with its emotional, physical and financial pressures. These men prayed with me, talked me through discouragements and even gave our family a van to replace my aging, rusting vehicle that had become a sinkhole of repair money.
Their acts of love became examples of selflessness for me to follow in my own family. As these men and I strengthen and motivate one another, I can focus on enriching the communion and community I experience with my family at home.
ChristianWeek Ontario editor Robert White lived in Guelph, Ontario, at the time of publication with his wife, Pam, and teenagers, Tim and Kathleen.
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