Creating communities of care
How do we learn love? How do we learn how to care for others beyond self? How do we learn about the ‘common good’ for people and the benefits of community health?
Much of life’s formative learning happens in your ‘family of origin’ – in your family life. From birth onwards, the influence of and dependency upon primary familial caregivers and then the broader family and community are extremely significant.
How do we unpack the same questions in relation to other specific communities, such as the community (the family) of faith?
The Church is at a reformational shift of identity in many aspects of its community life. The inherited pastoral community culture is a key aspect of evolving change. Like many things, we sometimes don’t realise that change has happened until after fallout has occurred.
A key fallout is the fallacy that being Christian means we tolerate bad behaviour in a different way. We don’t in our family of origin. Our children, as happens in most families I think, learnt strategies of behaviour around emotional intelligence – “We don’t behave like that, go in to your own space to reflect on this and rejoin the family when you think you can speak and act appropriately.” It is a repeatable learning, done with love and encouragement. As we know with our parent God, there is always forgiveness and more chances given to be a better person!
The idea that being Christian means that we tolerate bad behaviour needs to be unlearnt. It is part of the shift that the Church (always meaning ‘the people of God’) needs to confront in a time of mission that requires focus on community engagement. In other words, we are part of the whole – and to behave in a way that silos a different way of being a human community is not only bizarre, it compromises how we share the message and live out the absolute truth of Christ’s good news.
In a culture of care, the leaders of the faith community are one part of the whole. The reformational shift brings the challenge to ensure the care and wellbeing of the clergy and other leaders are not separate to the community culture of care. Culture change takes time; we are living in a time of fluidity and in a networking environment, where even trying to plan is not always possible. Therefore the principles, the core values, of who we are need to be strong and communicated consistently.
Christian faith communities of care have simple – and yet very intentional principles – love God (because God has loved us into being) and love others. This is the mission of God and, therefore, ours as well.
As COVID-19 began, we started to ‘grow’ a hill of hearts on the Kenmore Church site – together with the electronic sign expressing, ‘we are all heart connected’.
As we looked for other ways to connect and engage with the community in an encouraging way, we decided to put a teddy bear up on Moggill Road as well – the universal COVID-19 symbol that has appeared all over the world. This led to that, and the idea of a ‘bear hunt’ on our lovely acreage church site grew…we have so many young people using the hall through the week. And, so the launch of the bear hunt with 62 bears occurred on a Messy Morning on 23 August, and continued over the following six weeks. It was a wonderful success with people of all ages from the community hunting down the bears.
The aim – to have fun, to emphasise we are human together, and that we are a community that cares for all. It is part of our intentional mission to create a ‘village green’ space of welcome and acceptance.Jump to next article