This was originally posted on Sat Jun 19, 2004 8:30 pm on the EmergentCHBC forum
I'm just back from Kansas City. One additional bonus of my meeting was that I got to spend some time with Joe Myers who wrote "In Search of Belonging." The young adults leadership team is currently reading this book — and I would encourage all who are interested in community to read this book!
Joe applies to communication theory to community formation with some truly outstanding applications for every aspect of social living. His primary point is that our need to belong is expressed in four different spaces/spheres:
1. Public — large and somewhat anonymous gatherings (like being
in a church service or the crowd at a game)
2. Social — events where you have the opportunity to share short vignettes of who you are and that of others — meeting places
3. Personal — close and small gatherings where some more detailed personal sharing can occur.
4. Intimate — those few very close relationships where you reveal every aspect of your life
There some very important applications that he makes about community formation in church settings:
- Our tendency to make every public sphere a social sphere, every social sphere a personal sphere, and every personal sphere an intimate sphere actually thwarts community. Many a class, group, or small group are destroyed by this imperative to "intimatize" every event. We need all four spheres to be connected.
- Though plenary services and small groups are good — we need more and varied community spaces to belong. Too often, churches impose the public and personal spheres (with a guilt trip that the personal should be intimate) as the only community options.
- Forced community structures are very limited in their success. Our best efforts are to create atmospheres were community and connections occur.
I definitely encourage reading this book (even though Joe is a huge Indiana basketball fan!).
A confession — my friends in emergent have had a long standing BBQ war. I've done my best to hold up the NC (Eastern of course) side of the argument. But after two trip to Jack's Stack in the depot area of Kansas City (the Crown beef ribs are the ticket!) and some intense sampling of Jack's in downtown Nashville (Memphis style) — I must say KC ribs are really, really good. I won't say that I've had a conversion experience, because conversion is so often a long process right — but I must admit that I "lost sight" of Wilson, NC for a few moments in KC.