Relationships are the currency of any community. The degree to which we feel connected is in direct relationship to the level of disclosure we share with others. The greater the level of disclosure, the closer and more connected we feel about another person.
Community is built on trust and intimacy (or connectedness) born out of shared experiences and openness about ones feelings, thoughts, and ideas. The intimacy part only comes when we are willing to be real and vulnerable. We have to be willing to share our warts along with our dreams, our aspirations along with our strengths.
Let me put this into context using a recent experience we had:
My wife and I lead a small group we call 2nd Saturdays. It is a community of friends who are in various places with respect to faith but desire to have deeper, more meaningful relationships in their lives and are willing to explore how God and faith plays a role in that process.
Our community was recently threatened by the fact that we had a member who was not willing to “go there” with us. They did not feel compelled to enter into a conversation about how their choices were impacting individuals in the group and the group as a whole.
At the end of the day, the group collectively decided that if this person was not willing to take the risk with us and trust us not to judge but to offer healthy critique and accountability, the community could not function as it was intended.
While it was not an easy decision, they determined that the community mattered more than the individual even though they still love and care for that person. Ultimately, they concluded that without the trust, there could not be intimacy and without intimacy there was no community.
It is impossible to hide our true selves when true community exists. While there is room for differences of opinion and practice, disruption — and that which leads to disruption — must be carefully monitored so not to undermine the most based economic unit of community ... trust.
How are you growing and protecting community among those you choose to do life with?