As I travel around the country and talk with people about community, one issue becomes clearly universal—people want spontaneous community over forced belonging. In their search to experience community, they have all tried the latest and greatest new model or practice that promises authentic community. They have been motivated, pushed and "guilted" into these new forms only to leave empty and alone.
On the other side of the table sit pastors and key leaders who are frustrated and defeated from all the energy expended trying to keep the machine up and running with some appearance of success. "It's not working," a desperate voice cried from the group. "I have one of the leading, most respected and mimicked small group programs in the country and I'm here to confess…it doesn't work."
I wasn't surprised and neither was anyone else in the room. We were all glad he had the heroic strength to express it so honestly. The room experienced the feeling all confession brings. You are glad the weight is off your shoulders, but what is before you is out of control and not yet known. It is peace and fright at the same time.
We try so hard to replicate the experience of connecting with someone (or a group of people) in a way that helps our life be more complete. We have all experienced this wonderful sense of connection, both in long time friendships and in a first time meeting. So we bullishly run down a road searching for any answer. The question is; how do we create this experience of belonging? How can we help people grow in a way that helps them connect and have community? Why are the groups we create so empty and seem so forced?
Community: a Strong Search to Belong
When I sit and listen to people as they tell stories of success ...