We walk the healing path alone and lonely at times,” says Dan Allender in The Healing Path. “Moments specifically designed for each of us take us through the valley and into the desert, where God woos us with his strange, wild love.  But the majority of our journey is meant to be traveled with a few others.”

Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:23-25 stresses the importance of community.  While we’re on the topic, let’s not confuse “community” with lock-step-it is, where everyone is required to look, act, talk, think, and walk like identical cardboard cut-outs or risk ostracism.  That’s not “community,” that’s conformity, and nothing can stifle a soul faster.

“Community” includes the concepts of belonging, commonality, common (but not necessarily “identical”) possession, participation, priorities.  What do you think about this Allendar observation:

“We are indebted to one another. You cover my back.  I watch yours.  I must try to protect you from sin’s deceitfulness and the resulting proclivity to harden your heart against God’s tender call.  We all stand in drying cement.  If we don’t keep moving on the journey we will become bound and enslaved to something or someone other than God.”

Does the following observation from Frank Viola in Reimagining Church sound familiar?:

In the positional leadership framework, the church is patterned after the military and managerial structures of contemporary culture.  In the functional framework, the church operates by life – divine life.  Mutual ministry comes forth naturally when God’s people are equipped and hierarchical structures are absent.

Native to the hierarchical/positional-oriented churches is a political machine that works behind the scenes.  This machine promotes certain people to positions of ecclesiastical power and authority.  Native to functionally-oriented churches is the mutual responsibility and collegial interplay of its members.  They listen to the Lord together.  They affirm each other in their Spirit-endowed gifts.  They encourage one another toward Christ. (pp. 154, 155)

Who’s got your back?