Church is full of lots of different people. We do different things and think different thoughts. We are independant people living largely separate lives. Together we are the church. We are united: not by a single thing we have in common, or a mutual interest we share. Our unity runs deeper – we are joined as part of the same body, the body of Christ. This unity is the source of our church community.
A church community aims to be outward facing – looking out for the new faces and the people on the edges and welcoming them closer into the heart of the church. We do not do this because we are nice people, but because it is God at work in and through us that makes this distinct from the welcome you might receive elsewhere. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and that really means something. The beautiful diversity and breadth of our church family is testament that God’s saving grace is not limited to a particular type of person.
If our church community looks like any other friendship group, we’re doing something wrong.
Our first line of defense from a consumerist attitude to church is sacrifice. We must fight our tendency to find and stick to people we perceive to be the same as ourselves. Deliberate inclusivity and a commitment to a church community that is more than just a collection of similar people can may not come naturally – but it is this deliberate inclusivity which is the best thing for us. It shapes our attitude to the purpose of church.
At this time of year we have a chance to set the culture of what our church community looks like for the new academic year. Aspire for a Jesus-shaped approach to people which loves deeply, sacrificially and for the long term. And ask Him to help.