Community in the Pews

By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2010 10:23 am

I was recently in a small group setting where the subject under discussion was community in the Christian church:  that community should be the center of our life.

Unfortunately, I see a problem – and I see it right in the church pews on Sunday morning. The problem is this: people often don’t practice community in the pews. Couples sit together with empty chairs on either side. Families sit together … again, with empty space on either side.

Sure, sometimes folk sit with other folk. But as a single person who has done a lot of observing and also a lot of chatting with other singles, I can tell you this: it is all too easy as a single to sit by yourself on Sunday morning. Alone. In the very place where you should experience fellowship.

Not only singles are affected in this way. I also see couples who are hurting sitting wrapped in their own lonely spaces. Or newcomers with no one next to them.

It’s easy for couples and families who are feeling healthy and positive not to notice these islands of isolation. When you are with your loved ones, you may not realize that others are not sitting alone by choice. Let’s face it, we tend to be self-centered by (fallen) nature. If we’re happy, we don’t realize that someone else may not be.

But my friends, if we can’t practice community in the pews, I find it hard to believe we really practice it in the church. If we don’t take this simplest of actions – to take the initiative to sit with those who are single, sorrowing, or strangers – how can we ever expect to become a community characterized by true sacrificial love … which is, after all, the foundation of true community?



© 2010 Paula Marolewski,

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