Sebastian Junger's book "Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging" offers a unique perspective on the importance of community and belonging in modern society. As far as I know Junger has not stated that he is Christian, but the history he shares of our own existence as a people in our American culture is fascinating to say the least. It causes us to pause on what we may think is the highest value and may redefine what community could look like going forward. While the book focuses primarily on the experiences of soldiers returning home from war, its message about the need for human connection and community is applicable to many other settings, including church communities.
Tribe is an interesting read that may help us look deeper at the community we have established in our churches and maybe discover how we might cause it to grow deeper.
Building a sense of community in a church setting can be challenging, especially in today's fast-paced, individualistic society. However, the benefits of having a strong and supportive community within a church cannot be overstated. A church community can provide individuals with a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning, as well as emotional and spiritual support during times of hardship.
Junger argues that one of the key factors in building a strong community is a sense of shared purpose. In a church setting, this shared purpose is often centered around a common faith and the desire to serve and support one another. Churches can foster this sense of shared purpose by creating opportunities for members to come together and work towards a common goal, whether it's through volunteer work, community outreach, or worship services.
Another important aspect of building community is creating a sense of shared responsibility. Members of a church community should feel responsible for each other's well-being and should be willing to offer support and help when needed. This can be facilitated through regular communication, such as phone calls, emails, or in-person visits, as well as through organized support groups or counseling services.
Additionally, Junger emphasizes the importance of face-to-face interaction in building strong communities. In today's digital age, it can be easy to rely on technology to stay connected with others. However, research shows that face-to-face interaction is crucial for building trust and developing strong relationships. Churches can encourage face-to-face interaction by hosting regular social events, potlucks, or community service projects.
Junger also emphasizes the importance of shared suffering in building strong communities. He argues that when people face adversity together, it creates a sense of solidarity and a shared bond that can be incredibly powerful.
In a church setting, shared suffering can take many forms. It could be the loss of a loved one, a personal struggle with addiction or mental health issues, or a community-wide crisis such as a natural disaster or pandemic. When individuals in a church community face these challenges together, it can create a sense of empathy and understanding that strengthens the bonds between them.
However, it's important to note that shared suffering doesn't necessarily mean that everyone in the community is experiencing the same level of hardship. In fact, it's often the case that some members of a church community may be experiencing more significant challenges than others. However, by coming together to support those who are struggling, the community as a whole can become stronger and more resilient.
Churches can foster a sense of shared suffering by creating opportunities for members to come together and support each other during difficult times. This could include support groups, counseling services, or simply providing a space for individuals to share their struggles and receive emotional support from others.
In addition, churches can also provide practical support to those who are suffering, such as providing meals, transportation, or financial assistance. By demonstrating a willingness to help each other in times of need, the church community can create a sense of mutual care and support that strengthens the bonds between members.
Overall, shared suffering can be a powerful tool for building community in a church setting. By coming together to support each other during difficult times, members of a church community can develop a sense of empathy, understanding, and solidarity that strengthens their relationships and fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.
In summary, building community in a church setting requires a deliberate effort to create a sense of shared purpose, responsibility, and face-to-face interaction and a willingness to work through suffering together. By doing so, churches can create a strong and supportive community that provides members with a sense of belonging, purpose, and emotional and spiritual support. Sebastian Junger's book "Tribe" offers valuable insights into the importance of community and belonging and can serve as a useful guide for building a strong church community.