Joseph R. Myers wrote a great book a couple of years ago entitled Organic Community: Creating a Place Where People Naturally Connect. We really resonate with the vision for community outlined in Myers’ book. Our work as the Adventure Team is to create the circumstances in which organic community can emerge and to nurture, celebrate, and support organic community wherever we find it. Organic community is healthy, sustainable, in harmony with its environment, ordered and evolving, where power is shared, accountability welcomed, differences respected, compassion practiced, and leadership supported.

We have nurtured and participated in organic communities inside and outside churches. Here are just a few examples: the ministry team that formed around a vision to create a new outreach-oriented worship service, a house church where spiritual seekers could find a safe place to ask questions and share insights, a group of rural families choosing to live simply and close to the land.

In his book, Myers contrasts organic community with community by “master plan.” He describes it this way: “A master plan is an adopted instrument of policy intended to control individual acts.” Myers wants to be clear that he’s not against planning in general. He has simply found that when it comes to building community “master planning” usually doesn’t work. We have also found that to be the case: a small groups program that worked great at Willow Creek Church or Church of the Resurrection bombs when imported to another setting, a church planting model that worked great in the 1980s fails in the 21st century, a community development model that brought McMansions and economic growth to southern California brings economic growth to central Indiana while obliterating a small farming community that once existed there; the resulting town feels less like a community of genuine human relationships and more like an agglomeration of individuals. The connective tissue of relationships takes years to develop. When that is gone, making friends and meeting neighbors becomes more difficult.

Regardless of the approach, philosophy, planning or lack thereof, community is difficult work and a wonderful gift. Give thanks for the community that makes your life possible.