One thing the last year and a half and counting has shed light on is our anemic view of community, specifically the church. It revealed how many were satisfied by a good conversation or time of prayer in the halls or in a class. Or just chatter after service with those around them or their usual group. When that disappeared those people felt lost and lonely. It was fascinating to watch the adaptation for some, which was to grasp at getting back to “normal”. For others it was a time to slip out, because no one would really notice and be satisfied by online viewing of church and calling it good.
My crash course came as some left because of disagreements over what rules should or shouldn’t be followed. Many were intricate parts of our church. The good part is the pain helped me identify that I had gotten to a space where this church is my family. I felt it deeply. As a pastor’s wife that can be hard because I did not choose to be part of this church, but I thanked God He had woven my heart to these people. The hard part was how I found out. When those we had done life with left in the middle of a pandemic and world unrest it was painful. It hurt. It felt like they abandoned us when we needed them most.
The blessing was a a deeper knitting together of those who chose to be part of community. People that normally have no real connection served together, looked out for others, and became fully vested in being the hands and feet of Christ in a very challenging season. All this to say, that I jumped at the chance to review Ben Connelly’s book A Field Guide for Genuine Community: 25 Days & 101 Ways to Move From Facade to Family from Moody Publishing. I knew we needed something to help us and guide us to growing into a healthier family as things opened up. I knew we needed something to help us not go back to “normal”, but to continue growing as a family.
This book has a wonderful, simple, approachable layout for a topic that is deeper and more complex in reality. Connelly addresses some of the false beliefs many believers, especially in the west have bought into and unpacks what true Biblical community is. He also gives very practical ideas for creating opportunities to grow into genuine community. This would be a great book to do with a group, or better yet as a church wide initiative. I am still pondering how and when to share it with my church family. It is an encouraging book and a helpful reframing of community. It was also helpful in adding language and ideas to what I saw over the last couple of years. It helped give me a better understanding to why the disconnects happened and are happening.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a book that is very approachable in its discussion on community. I would highly recommend grabbing a few copies and going through it with a group. It is super practical without feeling fluffy or impossible.
***Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for my honest review from Moody Publishing.