Affinity – Likeness or Commonness?

True community comes from admitting our need.

People group. And affinity plays a role in how we connect. But in recent years the "affinity group" has come under attack and its viability questioned. Do such groups promote shared ignorance or exclusivity, tearing apart the fabric of biblical community? Do they promote true fellowship? Should they be replaced by diverse gatherings of men, women and children of all ages, races, languages and incomes? Isn't affinity a narrow concept?

The issue is not "affinity"—it's people. Small groups work perfectly until people show up! Let me explain what I mean—hang in there with me.

Affinity is not "exclusivity" or "likeness"—it is "commonness." It is a means of connection, not a characteristic of community. Greater affinity does not automatically produce greater community. A gathering of young mothers may experience a less true community than a more diverse group of people, but not because they are young mothers. And greater diversity does not automatically produce greater community. Just go to any college campus and watch how students group together.

Three ways most groups form

Three primary connection strategies exist today for forming groups—geography, purpose and affinity. Each serves the kingdom and contributes to God's plan for building his church. Each has biblical precedent. And churches that integrate all three will flourish.

Geography:

Old Testament tribal groupings were family-centered and geography played a significant role, particularly concerning where the tribes pitched their tents around the tabernacle (Numbers 2) and the land they would ultimately occupy (Joshua 13-22). New Testament Christ-followers gathered in homes (Acts 2:42-47; 20:20), implying some connection around places they lived.

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