Guest / Limited Access /

Troublesome issues like divorce and homosexuality take on a different cast when you confront them not in a state legislature but in a family reunion.

I resist the trend toward megachurches, preferring smaller places out of the spotlight. I never fully understood why until I came across this paradoxical observation in G. K. Chesterton's "Heretics": "The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world....The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us."

Precisely! Given a choice, I tend to hang out with folks like me: people who have college degrees, drink only Starbucks dark roast coffee, listen to classical music, and buy their cars based on epa gas mileage ratings. Yet, after a short while I get bored with people like me. Smaller groups (and smaller churches) force me to rub shoulders with everybody else.

Henri Nouwen defines "community" as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives. Often we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, thus forming a club or a clique, not a community. Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision, and hard work to form a community.

The Christian church was the first institution in history to bring together on equal footing Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free. The apostle Paul waxed eloquent on this "mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God." By forming a community out of diverse members, Paul said, we have the opportunity to capture the attention of the world and even the supernatural world beyond (Eph. 3:9-10).

In some ways, the church has sadly failed in this assignment. (Yes, 11 o'clock Sunday morning remains the most segregated ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
ARTICLE: Is Death a Right?
What begins as a right can soon become an obligation.
Current IssueGleanings: June 2016
Subscriber Access Only Gleanings: June 2016
Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our June issue).
RecommendedAndy Stanley Explains His ‘Stinking Selfish’ Parents Comment
Andy Stanley Explains His ‘Stinking Selfish’ Parents Comment
‘As much as I wish folks would listen to the entire message, it really doesn’t diminish the absurdity of what I said.’
TrendingNicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t.
Editor's PickLetters with the Mosque Next Door
Letters with the Mosque Next Door
How a budding friendship between a pastor and an imam brought a community together.
Christianity Today
PHILIP YANCEY: Why I Don't Go to a Megachurch
hide thisMay 20 May 20

In the Magazine

May 20, 1996

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.