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Earl Marshall

Community vs Communitas

I have been reading "Exiles: Living Intentionally in a Post-Christian Era" by Michael Frost while on vacation last week.  I just finished his chapter on "luminality" and the difference between community and communitas.  What a wonderful reminder that as followers of Jesus community is not our end goal and that achieving community is more a result of pursuing mission together.

I am a huge fan and proponent of small group life.  I believe it is a small group of followers of Jesus  who have the potential to achieve the longing that many of us have to experience biblical community, care, and friendship together.  And yet so few seem to reach that milestone.  Very few ever get to the share your life level of relationship.

Perhaps this is because we have made the group and a sense of community the goal instead of communitas where mission is the goal.  Think of a hockey team attempting to win a championship, or soldiers thrown together in war, or . . .  These small groups of teams on mission together forge strong relationships, bonds that are very strong. 

Jesus call on our life is to follow him.  When we follow Jesus together we embrace his mission to reach as many as possible with the news of Jesus’ kingdom, living and taking the whole gospel to whole people.  When we are on mission together we will find that we will share life together.  Community is not the goal mission is. 



  1. Perhaps Earl we then need to expand the small group ministry to involve “mission” statements for each group. Challenge our groups, as you are challenging us individually in your current sermons, to reach out. As with the single moms event, we need to ask our small groups to participate in community outreach programs…get involved. All to often, people don’t do because they don’t know how/what to do.

  2. I think you mean “liminality” not “luminality”, right?

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