“As quiet as a …”

How do you build a community? The answer lies within how we use our triangle. It reminds us that genuine community is always complex, dense and intricate. To build taking the easier path of prioritising one of these question marks at the expense of the others is to end up with a community that is merely skin deep.

To choose this complex, dense and intricate path means that building community is never easy. Let me give you an example to illustrate this. At our last leadership meeting it was asked whether it’s too noisy in church before worship.

All questions like this have the capability of tearing the heart and soul out of any church. Or rather the way the question is answered can tear the heart and soul out of any church. Questions like this need answering, but in way that seeks to build up the community of the church; in fact this is how we need to answer all questions and challenges we face.

Some think the current noise level is too high and this hinders their preparation for worship. Here the faith angle is prioritised because of the worthy desire for faith to grow and develop through worship. Yet oddly enough the way churches resolves this question is by using the organisational angle and when this is enacted it can damage any sense of family and so alienate those who think differently.

However, for others, the general hubbub and buzz of conversation in church at the moment creates a welcoming and warm environment to come into and to worship in. Such thinking focuses on the sense of family and the relative importance of how an individual worships and expresses their faith than a sense of responsibility or commitment toward others. This way of thinking can be seen as being quite selfish and so be equally alienating.

Who would have thought such an innocuous question could have such divisive consequences; but it’s true. To be as silent as the grave because this is how we show reverence to God, or to be as quiet as a mouse, is to miss the point of why we come together to worship.

One of the privileges of the Gospel is to be part of the People, the Community, of God. This community is as rich and as diverse as we are and if this is its greatest strength, then it is also its greatest weakness. Our three question marks remind us of these two sides and lay down the challenge to us to live in this complex, dense and intricate way where these three questions live in loving tension with each other.

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