19 Marks of Real Community
Ray Ortland, a respected pastor from Nashville, Tennessee, unleashed a tweet-storm today about real, biblical community. Referencing multiple Bible Passages (1 Cor. 3:3; Romans 12:18; John 13:34-35; John 17:23; Philippians 2:2) about unity and love, Ortland, gave nineteen evidences of authentic, biblical community. After reading them I thought they were worth documenting as a diagnostic that any Christian could use to examine their own life and the health of their local church.
Ortland also mentioned Elton Trueblood who noted that “the Roman world had religion galore. What they didn’t have was community. The Christians did, and the world saw.”
Below are the tweets in the order they appeared. Read them and examine your own heart, and then evaluate the life of the church you are committed to, seeing if there is something you can do to honor Christ and love your brothers and sisters.
- Evidence of community: people hang out at church long after the service, enjoying one another.
- Evidence of community: people are careful to keep positive, relaxed, open relationships, quick to apologize and make things right again.
- Evidence of community: people respond to leaders with openness and trust, reasonable responses, not adversarial or aggressive.
- Evidence of community: prayer meetings don’t have long, awkward silences, but the people share a sense of reality with God and jump in.
- Evidence of community: no two-tiered justification, some above, others below, but all are equally dignified with inclusion in Christ.
- Evidence of community: people’s inevitable eccentricities are cherished as lovable rather than used as evidence against them.
- Evidence of community: the inevitable bloopers by the band are perceived not as embarrassments but as opportunities to relax and enjoy.
- Evidence of community: no need to be impressive, no grandiosity, but a settled confidence that Jesus is building something real here.
- Evidence of community: lots of laughter, when it’s right; lots of tears, when they are right. But no triumphalism at another’s expense.
- Evidence of community: conflicts and disagreements are pursued not with a desire to win but with a desire for the win/win.
- Evidence of community: people listen well, sincerely interested in one another’s thoughts, rather than demand a hearing for their own.
- Evidence of community: disturbing the community is so extremely distasteful as to be unthinkable. An awareness that this is sacred.
- Evidence of community: an awed awareness that every individual present has been sent there by Christ, entrusted by him to everyone’s care.
- Evidence of community: the confession of sin is perceived not as shocking or even risky but as normal and admirable.
- Evidence of community: the only competition is to outdo one another in showing honor, and everyone wins.
- Evidence of community: the manly men speak openly of their love and admiration for one another. No jokey put-downs. Deeply sincere.
- Evidence of community: everyone can’t wait for Sunday to get here.
- Evidence of community: disruptive people are not ignored but are confronted by the elders.
- Evidence of community: a big church feels like a small church. Warm-hearted belonging doesn’t require intimacy; it creates intimacy.
Which one(s) stood out to you. Where do you see yourself and your church excelling? Where do you see room for improvement?