Community is a complex creature. Many factors contribute to finding successful community. With the erosion of the geographically close family and the heightened mobility of our culture, many people struggle to learn healthy competencies for community.
Schools, service agencies, churches, and other organizations are making a concerted effort to help. Yet several common myths surround the search to belong, myths that dilute and confuse the definitions we employ to describe our journey to connect.
More time equals more belonging. The first myth is that the greater the amount of time spent in relationship with another person, the more authentic the community will be. This is a pervasive myth. In reality, time has little to do with a person's ability to experience significant belonging. Many people tell stories of first-time, episodic introductions from which a spontaneous connection emerges. Have you ever said, "I just met you, but it seems like I've known you all my life?"
Or, for still another perspective, Rose describes an experience at her church:
About a month ago a woman named Sandra began attending. She is 56 years old. She came to our group last night. She has zero church background. Four years ago she was alone on a week-long vacation to Mexico. One morning by the pool, she struck up a conversation with the young woman sitting next to her. She learned that this young woman was there on her honeymoon. When the bride's husband joined her by the pool, Sandra tried to excuse herself, but they just kept talking with her.
Sandra said that off and on during the rest of her vacation, she ran into this couple. They mentioned they attended a Vineyard church in California. Sandra was quick to mention to me, "It wasn't like they were ...