Sense of Community

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Sense of Community

Because of man's inherent agrarian nature he may need a “Sense of Community”.

  • “Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together (Dr David McMillan, 1976).

In nature people are members of families and those families may form clans through marriage and communities through common interaction. The natural family as a unit may have a head or leader based on age and consanguinity.[1] The head of a family has been called an Elder. In the ancient Latin culture the the ‘power of the father’, patria potestas, was inherent in his personal 'power to command' his family, his imperium.[2]

The family was often compromised by social compacts of contracts transferring allegiance from the head of the family to the head of the community or state. The whole family and the natural liberty of the individuals within the family was compromised by these contracts which could be implied or executed.

Congregations from the view of the Church, established by Christ, are free assemblies of families. The family is represented by the head of the natural family who is often the eldest member of that family still living identified as an Elder. Within the family there is a naturally imposed authority and allegiance upon the membership of the individual under the head of the family. There is also a hierarchy.

To maintain the natural freedom of the individual when families are gathering together one must consider the dangers and pitfalls of obtaining a “Sense of Community”. While gathering in congregations certain priorities and principles should be considered to avoid an unhealthy infringement upon the individual liberty. One does not want to “belong” to a congregation because the act of “belonging” may reduce our natural liberty from an individual to a person.

The Church only wants the individual to belong to a Christ and the Father of creation within the “natural family” and not compromise that sacred institution by granting authority or allegiance to the “fathers of the earth” whether they be civil or ecclesiastical.

While we should have an egalitarian approach to everyone, that position must allow for individual growth and change. How does a congregation of recorded elders develop a “Sense of Community” and remain free?

It has been suggested that there are four factors to the development of a “Sense of Community”:

Four Factors of a Christian community

1. Membership
2. Influence
3. Integration and Fulfillment of Needs
4. Shared Connection

How should someone who is actually following Christ, by seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, develop these four factors within a congregation of Recorded Elders [CORE] to establish a Christian community in accordance with Christ and His purposes since their gatherings are free assemblies?


Membership

The first factor is what they call Membership. A member is “an individual, thing, or organization belonging to a group”. That membership can be further defined as “a constituent piece of a complex structure.” The idea of “belonging” to a group, or becoming a “constituent piece” of something bigger, takes away the part of the wholeness of the individual. He is no longer seen as a mere attendee of a free assembly but becomes a cog in a machine with duties and obligations imposed by the whole.

Membership may also simply be the feeling of belonging or of sharing a sense of personal connection. Breaking down the factor labeled memberships some psychologist have identified at least five attributes:

  1. . Boundaries including criteria
  2. . Sense of Security and Safety
  3. . Sense of belonging and identifying
  4. . Personal investment
  5. . Common symbol and system

How would you define these five attributes of "membership" in a Christian community?

Boundaries

Boundaries of membership in a free assembly would include how people become members and what keeps people out or away from that assembly.

If someone sins does that mean they cannot come to a Free Assembly?[3] Jesus sat with sinners.[4]   Some would say that these “boundaries” are defined by the commandments. 

Certainly the Ten Commandments are boundaries by which the sincerity of faith may be defined but judging by who Christ assembled with they should not keep people from a free assembly since Jesus assembled with sinners all the time.

The Ten Commandments, being fundamental to faith in Christ[5] and the Eternal life he speaks of they will undoubtedly play into other attributes of membership as well. But to exclude someone from an assembly just because they sin would be counter productive to their salvation and our own.

If someone falls off the wagon at an AA meeting does that mean he cannot come back? In fact it is because he sins that the individual may need to assemble with others.

Sense of Security and Safety

Christ said he was the light. The light sees things as they are. It exposes the truth where nothing is in the dark. People who do wrong often hide from the truth of that wrong. They flee the light that exposes them for what they are.[6] Those people of your assembly or of your community who love the truth and the ways of Christ will feel secure with you and those who hate the truth and prefer a lie will flee.

Fear not![7]

The purpose of Christ was to serve and save others not himself. So while there is a need for personal safety it can not be at the expense of our neighbor’s safety. To do so would contradict if not defy the purpose of Christ. To endanger or infringe the person or property of others in your assembly would make the claim of coming in His name becomes a travesty and a hypocrisy.

We were warned that the cry of peace and safety and what to do and not do to prevent the destruction that comes[8]

Sense of belonging and identifying

We often think a sense of community comes from “belonging to” a community but in Christianity we believe Christ has set us free from belonging to anything but the God who gives life. We must obtain a sense of community by belonging with a community in the character of Christ.

What does it mean to come in in the name and character of Christ?

Christ came to serve.[9]

Do we come together to serve or to be served?

The Fathers of the earth and Benefactors of the world are a common purse system filled with the blood of your neighbor.

If you come to be served then you will end up belonging to the community.[10] But if you come to serve in righteousness and the righteousness of others in Christ’s name and according to His love then you will be set free and only belong with the community.[11]

Personal investment

Common symbol and system

Influence

Integration and Fulfillment of Needs

Shared Connection

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Footnotes

  1. Consanguinity ("blood relation", from the Latin consanguinitas) is the property of being from the same kinship as another person. In that aspect, consanguinity is the quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person.
  2. Imperium is a Latin word which, in a broad sense, translates roughly as 'power to command'. In ancient Rome, different kinds of power or authority were distinguished by different terms. Imperium referred to the ability of an individual to command the military but originally the military was the militia of the people before the people began compromising their natural rights in social compacts.
  3. Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
    Luke 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
  4. Matthew 9:10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
    Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
    Matthew 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
    Matthew 26:45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
    Mark 2:15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
    Mark 2:16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
    Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
    Mark 14:41 And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
    Luke 5:30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
    Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
    Luke 6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
    Luke 6:33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
    Luke 6:34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
    Luke 7:34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
    Luke 13:2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
    Luke 13:4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
    Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
    Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
    John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
    Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
  5. Matthew 19:18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
    23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
  6. Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: Proverbs 13:9 The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out. Proverbs 15:31 ¶ The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. Proverbs 15:32 ¶ He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. Matthew 6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
  7. Proverbs 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
  8. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 ¶ Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 ¶ Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 16 ¶ Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. 23 ¶ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. 25 Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
  9. Luke 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
    John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
  10. Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,[from a Greek word meaning public decrees]
  11. Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.

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