In the seventh in a series of articles from Through-Lines: Defining What a Christian Is – Christians as community-builders walk and work together in a spirit of shalom.
“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”
—I Corinthians 12:12 (NIV)
When my children used to play with building blocks they would take a long time to craft a castle, a race car, or a sailing ship. Despite their pride for their masterpieces, it took them only a few seconds to break them apart. As adults, we need to teach our children how to be positive community-builders. They already can see that people work hard to build communities up, and then they also see that people can say something mean or do something hurtful and the community is torn down. Restoration and renewal is then required for those relationships to continue.
The most famous Biblical description of a Christian community is the body of Christ in I Corinthians 12. Paul shows us that each part of that body had a different function, and the body could not function without each part. Each part of the body also needed to honor the other parts by seeing the diversity of gifts. I like what verse five says, “Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.” Read through the chapter and see how many times the name of God is mentioned, and remember that God is active in your community too. God set your community up to do good things and to serve others. Let’s remember God’s calling for our community.
How do we teach community-building to kids? God had a wonderful plan when he designed us to be interconnected with one another and living in community. As followers of Christ we are called to build, protect, challenge, and love the communities in which we belong. And building these communities takes time and intentional effort. Try these three things: sharing, inviting and honoring. Sharing is something adults try and teach children from infancy, but sharing is the key to any form of empathy. Being invitational and giving children choices show that their voices and their choices matter in the church community. Finally, honoring those voices and choices with respect, encouragement and praise show that the community sees each child as an image-reflector and as a vital member of that community.