Community has become such a buzz word these days that I'm never certain we are on the same page when we use it in dialogue. Do we mean a neighborhood, a group of friends, or people with similar interests? Are we talking about a location or an intention? Something realized or becoming? And when we put the word faith in front of community, what does that mean?
What does it mean when I say that Jacob's Well is a "faith community," not an organization? Ultimately, it means that the center of our faith is Jesus Christ. We are a Christian community, and to that end we seek to be a community that reflects Jesus—that seeks to live life together in such a way that we are recognized as being like Jesus.
What Would Jesus Do?
To describe a community that reflects Jesus inevitably means a community that embraces the outsider. This is what Jesus was doing all the time. Remember how he collected his motley crew of disciples? He didn't go around looking for the elite. As I recall, he came under some rather severe criticism for taking on the guys from Galilee (can anything good come from there?), the uneducated fishermen, and he really went out on a limb by accepting Matthew and his sordid prior profession as a tax collector.
Beyond the 12 guys that we could call his core community, Jesus had a broader community that was equally diverse. Consider the fact that he let women finance his ministry. Wow! In a culture that debased the value of women and gave them no power or recognized personhood, Jesus apparently broke all the rules. He received provision from women. He traveled with them. He spent time in their homes. And he did the same with others who were marginalized in his culture—lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, ...