November 27, 2005

Inclusive Community 1

Per the encouragement of some close friends, I decided to start blogging on the idea of inclusive community. There will be a series of posts that you can follow from one to the next. So, let us begin...

First, an attempt to define the terms: "inclusive community" likely refers to a space in which a diversity of people experience an invitation to be and are welcomed as part of (this comes from what I gleaned during conversation with these friends). I want to discuss each of these terms in turn.

Inclusive modifies community describing what kind of community it might be (we'll get to that in a minute). The use of inclusive might suggest a few things. It might suggest a community that is broad in scope (potentially covering or allowing for all possibilities of diversity), it might more specifically refer to a group of believers without regard to rigidly sectarian barriers, or it might mean a grouping that includes the stated barriers (whether sectarian or otherwise). While the last option more often refers to mathematical notation, it seems that it might be a good metaphor for a local congregation as it stays committed to being a place of access for the least of these, the boundary-defining ones, to the Trinitarian fellowship via the cross.

That leads me to the second word--community. Just as "university" results from the pursuit of unity in diversity, so it is with the amalgamation of diverse people seeking to form a common grouping. A community implies a group of people coming together around a commonality to form a unity. In the context of a local congregation, the commonality is God--specifically as revealed through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. As Paul the Apostle said in Galatians 3, in Christ there is not one who, being in Christ, is thereafter defined by any other category. All are invited into the fellowship of the body, and this fellowship, as John said in his first epistle, is with the Father and His Son. It is the invitation to the Son's banquet (Luke 14), the memorial feast of which is Himself.

So, in sum, a local congregation might be called an inclusive community if it provides an equal invitation to all persons within an intended scope, especially the boundary-definers, to the fellowship that the Holy Spirit draws us up into, which is with the Father and the Son via the cross of Christ.

Go on to the next in this series of posts.


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Inclusive Community 1