Several months ago, when we stopped going to church, the most common injunction from people was, “Community is important.” As I said before, “I couldn’t agree more.” The best way I can answer this issue is to describe my current communities. That’s right, it’s plural. I don’t think any of us just have one community.
At the current moment, every day I drive to work at a large hardware store. I do a very physical job where we make sure the professional contractors get what they need. I drive forklifts and physically load products and basically make sure that person has another person to talk to. It’s a little like church – I greet them coming in and help them, then I send them on their way with “have a nice day.” My partner, Kenny and I, do the grumpy old man routine and usually bring a smile to people’s faces when we poke fun at each other – kind like the old guys in the Muppet Show. It’s not what I want to do forever, but right now it’s part of my community.
Another part of my community is a group of podcasters and authors. My publisher is Quoir and I couldn’t be happier to be associated with them. We all try to help promote each other’s books and it’s just a place where we all are in about the same boat and understand each other’s struggles. The other podcasters and bloggers that I meet online have some similar interests and discuss things that we are struggling with. I would encourage someone who doesn’t think that the online experience can provide community to host a podcast and interview someone for 45 minutes. It is impossible not to be closer to someone after you truly listen to them for that length of time – I hear Laura saying, “Amen!” in the background. My friend, Jason Elam, says, “This is my church—these are my people!” I agree with him.
Another part of my community is the Heart Connexion community. Laura and I have participated in the Breakthrough seminars at critical points in our lives. Dr. Paul and Susanna Fitzgerald have been consistent beacons in our lives to guide us back to true North. It’s not uncommon to reach out to them as I navigate the path that I’m on. Several members of this community provide support and encouragement at various points in our life. They are part of our community.
The most interesting part of my community is my family. Our three children and their families are one of the most comforting parts of my life. When they are here visiting, I experience a peace that must be from God or if it isn’t, don’t tell me different. My brothers and sisters and my mother are eternal to me. I will always love them, but we live different lives in different places. If they arrived at my door, I would do whatever they need me to do. If I found out they had committed an egregious crime, I would still love them and support them because they are a part of me. The great thing about good family is that you don’t have to reprove that love at certain intervals – it’s just true! They are part of my community in one of the most special ways.
Some people say their spouse is their best friend – I don’t say that! I would just say that Laura is primary. For over 30 years, there has been nothing that mattered more than her! So, take that for what’s it’s worth. You could probably feel compassion for her, because she accepted me in my broken state and she endured all of the transitions, for better or for worse. My image of God is evolving but my image of Laura growing! Every year that passes, I appreciate her more! Whatever I say about her only diminishes what I feel about her; so may I just say that she is the primary member of my community – she is not the boss and she is not the slave – but make no mistake about it – she is first! In the words of Forest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that right now.”
How to Join a Community
As a final word about community, let me just give a couple of suggestions that were given to me by a moderator of an online community. He suggested that I ask more questions instead of giving advice. In general, he suggested that I should give more than I take. I think that’s great advice for joining a community. I often focus on the perfect post, instead of contributing to a post that is already there. The world doesn’t always need a new community, but we can make any community better by giving our best to that community.
A Note from Laura.
The definition of community is, “A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
I’m just curious why the biggest argument I get from people about not attending an organized worship service (church) is this idea of community. If I am looking at the above definition, from the dictionary, I interpret that to mean you can find community anywhere! I have community at my work. I have community within my family. I have community by myself, if I truly believe the Divine is within me.
We both hope you find the community you need…it’s really as simple as that. We don’t have all the answers, but we can’t assume the community is necessarily inside organized church and we can’t assume our formula will work for everyone. But we do believe you can find your community and we are rooting for you!
Karl and Laura
Check out the other two episodes on Community
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