Why is There a Duality Between Church and Local Community?

by Mark Votava


It seems we are masters of duality when it comes to life.  We process almost everything through dualities that are not life-giving and create fragmentation.  This is tragic and sad to say the least.  One of the greatest dualities that I know of is the separation of church and local community.

  • For many of us church has very little to do with where we live

Church has become something we go to on a certain day and time of the week rather than something we are embodying through the place we live in everyday life.  This duality is killing us slowly, but many of us tend to love this dualistic version of what we call church.  For many of us church has very little to do with where we live, proximity, shared life together, community, solidarity, hospitality or learning from our neighbors.

  • Lost in a mobile world of technology

We, as Christians, have become lost in a mobile world of technology and abstract propositional statements about God.  Our embodiment is lacking because we do not value a rootedness in the place we live.  The local community is made up of many people, but a lot of them are not the Christians.  Maybe we have something to learn from our diverse neighbors of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds who value place more than we do.

  • Rediscovering the parish in all aspects of life

God is calling us to heal this duality between what we see as church and what we know of local community.  We need to integrate church with a practice of an embodied local community in everyday life.  We need to rediscover the parish in all aspects of life.  Have we become lost due to our addiction to upward mobility, complacency, apathy and dishonesty?

  • Following the local way of Christ

Jesus lived locally in embodied practices of love, grace and humility his whole life.  We are all called to follow the local way of Christ as he loved others and suffered because of it.  Christ was extremely local and is calling us to this way of life.  So many people are saying today that the world is being destroyed because we have abandoned our responsibility to remain local and sustainable.

  • We can’t see the plank in our own eyes

This duality between church and local community is frightening and has turned us into arrogant know it alls who want to convert others while we can’t see the plank in our own eyes.  But I would say convert others to what?  A church disconnected from shared life in local community.

  • Hanging onto our dualistic ways

Something is missing.  Something is not making sense while we hang onto our dualistic ways.  This is not the way of Christ.  This is not what we should be inviting others into.

How can we get over our duality between church and local community?