Man, I hate “team building” exercises. Remember “human knot?” Everyone grabs hands in the middle of a circle and you have to communicate with each other in order to come untied. Its an activity designed to help the members of the group get to know each other, and presumably learn to work as a team. Anyone who grew up in an 80’s or 90’s youth group remembers. It does get results, but maybe not the kind expected. Everyone in the group discovers at least 4 people.
- The Type “A” person. This kid acts as though the untangling of your appendages is akin to saving the princess in Super Mario. “Ok… kid with age-inappropriate nose hair, put your arm over the head of the Depeche mode fan. We can do this!” Calm down there, skippy.
- Guy bathed in AXE body spray (if this was set in the 2,000’s). I’m not sure if you’re insecure, but you smell like it. He is however a great catalyst to getting the exercise over quicker to avoid raging sinus flare ups.
- Cynical guy. “This is stupid,” he murmurs under his breath. Probably wearing a Metallica t-shirt to let everyone know he’s edgy and not really into this youth group thing.
- Popular girl. Pretty much the only reason any of the guys pretend to be interested in the activity. It gives them a 150% better chance of holding her hand than they would naturally have.
Do we come away from these activities unified? Or, do we just identify and judge the people who participate in them? I think mostly the latter. This may sound harsh, but follow me. You can’t focus on unity, team, or community and get it. Its like chasing the wind. Each of these words are descriptors of people who gather around a common mission. Great football teams unify around the desire to win a championship. Successful businesses unify around the desire to create a product or service. Churches SHOULD unify around the person and mission of Christ. Community is not the point, it’s the by-product of Christ followers pursuing Him together.
I see an epidemic in the Church of people trying to find community. Often, what they really mean is they want to be loved, accepted, and cared for. They want the FRUIT of Christ but not necessarily the Christ of the fruit. While you can certainly enjoy the by-products of a healthy group for a short time, if you are not on common mission, you will either destroy it, or ostracize yourself from it unintentionally. In other words, when your mission is you, it is uncommon to the rest of those in true Biblical community. That is not to say we don’t all struggle with being selfish, but to use the Church to pursue self is not the same as struggling in our pursuit of Christ.
When we are pursuing Christ, we invite others in, repent openly, forgive others, rejoice in the work of God, and look compassionately on those in need. True Christian communities are not simply support groups, Bible studies, fellowship meetings, or even social activist teams. They are family. They are families who fight alongside one another, and for one another in pursing Christ and making Him known to the world. Anything short of that will produce fake fruit.
If we have no mission but ourselves, we come away simply knowing, and or judging the people in the group, but never really experiencing unity or creating community. If you are a serial church or group hopper, could it be that you don’t actually want Christ, but the fruit of Christ followers? Don’t choose a church or a small group for what it has to offer, but for its MISSION. What happens to a group when only a few are producing the fruit of Christ’s Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? No one can live off the fruit of other believers forever. Fruit is intended to point to Christ himself, not the believer! We need all members of the body producing fruit, not just enjoying it. If you really want Christian community, you must ask yourself: Am I pursuing Christ with others, or just stealing from the table of other believer’s fruitfulness? Don’t try to find community, Create it!