In November of 2009, a group of about eight people from my local church community attended a continuing education conference which was sponsored by our Conference (the larger jurisdiction of which our local church community is associated with). The focus of the conference was asking people to take a closer look at the book "The Five Practices of a Fruitful Congregation" by Bishop Robert Schnase. After the conference, this group of eight made a commitment to one another to begin to discern what we think God is calling our church community to do and be in light of these practices. So we decided the best place to begin is to pray together.
So each Sunday (give or take a few) we have met to pray together. We have read a couple of books together which inform our conversation and we have even had a half day retreat for which we discussed what we felt God was telling us. It has been a wonderful group for one I cherish. They hold me accountable to different disciplines which I embark upon (such as my Lenten discipline).
One of our members, Reverend Nancy Allen, suggested that we read Bonhoeffer's book "Life Together". It is not a quick read despite not being very long. He uses several things in the book which the group found to be helpful as we discussed our life together in the church community we share.
Of the many things which spoke to me in this book, one thing sparked me to write out a 'T-chart' to help me see the difference between what he calls the "Community of Spirit" verse the "Human Community of spirit".
I was most struck by how my local church community works very hard and much of what we do is with good intentions but, I think, it is still located in the superficial (not bad, but more like "not deep") Community of the Human spirit.
I invite you to take a look at what Bonhoeffer is sharing with us and I wonder what you glean from this. Where do you find yourself living? What do you think your community strives to be in light of what it does as a church community? What steps can the UMC take to embody more of the Community of the Spirit and less of the Human Community of spirit?