We ended last week’s blog by encouraging you to think about what genuine community looks like. Today, we will make an attempt to answer that question. We
asked whether having a shared interest and an ability to message others with that
interest is sufficient to count as a community, such as when you join a group on
Facebook. What do you think about that?
The word ‘community,’ according to the Online Etymology Dictionary
(https://www.etymonline.com/word/community), means, “a number of people associated
together by the fact of local residency in the same locality.” The word comes from the
Latin word communitatem, which is a noun meaning, “a society, a division of people.”
Let’s come up with some paradigm examples of community that fit this definition.
Soldiers living in barracks together form a community. There are many people, they
share a residency in a particular place, and they even share a common goal.
Traditionally, people living on the same block meet the conditions of this definition and
are a community.
In modern times, though, local residency is less important with the ease of
transportation and the rise of social media. Business partners could be from Kentucky
and England and spend more time together than either of them spend with their next
door neighbor. They would seem to be part of a community. The term has come to
apply to people who do not necessarily have addresses that are close to each other.
We suggest that doing things together is at the core of what a community is. That
might be living near others, working with them, or worshiping with them. The term can’t
just pick out random groups of people. I am not in community with someone who lives
on the other side of the globe and who I have no idea even exists. It’s not just doing one
or two things with a person, either; it is an ongoing commitment to keep doing the
activity with a certain group of people.
Community membership comes in degrees, as well. If you are part of the local
pickleball club but go only once a month, you are not as much a part of the pickleball
community as the member who attends twice a week and organizes the playing
schedule. Likewise, if you love the Muuvwell podcast, you might have a parasocial