Center for Problem-Solving v. Community for God-Following, cont.

Last post I commented on the difference between church as a Center for Problem-Solving and church as a Community for God-Following. One aspect of this I didn't discuss was the difference between a Center and a Community. When problem-solving is the point, a true community is not required. Relationships can stay on a fairly shallow level. Even when we open up to each other in order to solve personal problems, such as problems in one's marriage, we need not enter into deep relationship with each other. One can take the risk of transparency while still remaining emotional invulnerable. The way to do it is to treat the relationship like therapy. We let others know us in order to do something -- namely, solve a problem. But therapists are paid helpers; there is no relationship of mutual self-giving in therapy. That is why a patient can leave a therapist and not suffer a great deal of emotional loss.

In contrast, a community is made not of professional-and-client, but of friends. Relationships involve mutual self-giving and vulnerability. The most crucial difference between Center and Community is that in the latter, each person is treated as an end in him or herself. We do not treat a person as a means to another end (i.e., solving a problem).

One cannot follow God deeply if the amosphere is that of Center and not Community. But in Community, we can follow God, and we are transformed.

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