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Why community and mission aren't easy - pt. 3

One way that individualism lures us away from missional community is through our own values and systems. The way that we cultivate the spiritual disciplines sometimes encourages individualism. I never, ever thought I would say that there is a hidden danger in encouraging people to have a daily, personal time of devotion to God that we call the “Quiet Time.” But if done at the exclusion of a communal experience of the spiritual disciplines, it can be distracting at best and detrimental to community at worst.

Wow... there, I said it. Christopher Kaiser notes that Modernity’s goal is the “relegation of the divine to private, inner experience” (Hunsberger 1996:83) at the expense of the public, corporate and, I would even say, the communal experience of God. Paul Heibert goes so far as to say that “Christianity in the West… has been privatized, relegated to personal piety” (Hunsberger 1996:147). When the pursuit of God becomes merely a privatized, inner pursuit, there is a part of community, and a value for community, that dies with that.

Heibert later asserts that the “erosion of the church from being a covenant community, along with its transformation into a crowd, club or corporation, has made Christianity a spectator sport or a business activity” (Hunsberger 1996:148-149). Far from being the inviting community of fellowship once described in the book of Acts, the privatization and individualization of Christianity has profoundly distorted our communal identity.

Hunsberger, George R. and Van Gelder, Craig.1996. The Church Between Gospel and Culture: The Emerging Mission in North America. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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image: Reaching Out To Me - originally uploaded by Kevin Day

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