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To Know and Be Known

On Sunday we talked a bit about the challenges to community in contemporary American culture.  Some sociologists are asking the question, "Is real community even possible?" or has life been altered so much that real connection is something from a bygone age.

There are a lot of challenges to real community in our culture, and yet, people seem to have a hunger for it.  We know it ourselves, as we long to be with others, to have a group or place where people know and care about us.  We know it by the TV shows that resonate with us (Friends, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, Cheers) which portray a group of people "doing life together."  And we know it by the number of businesses (i.e. Starbucks) marketing themselves as a "third place" (someplace other than home or work where you belong).  And we know it from the Bible, which tells us that we were made for community (Gen 2:18), and that community is possible in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:40-47).

Bruce Larson and Keith Miller think the church could learn something about community from the neighborhood bar:

"What we really need is that special something that many people find in the local bar.  The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church.  It's an imitation dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is an accepting and inclusive fellowship.  It's unshockable.  You can tell people secrets and they usually don't tell others or even want to.  The bar flourishes, not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put in the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved.  And so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers." (Larson and Miller, The Edge of Adventure, p.156)

What say you?  Where have you found real community?  Can the church learn anything from other institutions seeking to be a "third place"? 

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