I didn't get a lot of reading done on holiday. That's no bad thing, since I was supposed to be on holiday! But I did read a little more of The Connecting Church by Randy Frazee. In his chapter on Finding a common place he list five characteristics of community built around a common place. Here they are:
Spontaneity: This is about unplanned contact. In our modern-day, high paced, highly mobile society, we've lost the space and time simply to bump into people as we walk to the shop or the the school. There are very few unplanned moments in our lives and most, if the surveys are true, are taken up with with watching TV. We don't "drop by" anymore.
Availability: To make spontaneity work you need availability. I'm as conscious as the next person about how often I have to consult my diary to see if I'm free. When we organise a meal with friends or a visit with our families, it usually has to be booked a month in advance. This cannot be good for us.
Frequency: If Acts 2 is a defining paradigm for the church, then we can no longer afford to say we don't have time for community. Okay, so things are different, but how often is often enough when it comes to building true, biblical community?
Common meals: I wonder if half the attraction of Alpha is the meal. Common meals are important to community. We have a monthly fellowship meal at church after our Sunday morning celebration. I'm always saddened by the number of people who choose not to be there. Common meals provide a place for some of the spontaneity and availability and frequency issues that affect our communities.
Geography: Frazee argues that: The simple fact is that in all places of effective community people live in close proximity to each other-and the closer the better!