When we decided to write about community, I figured it would be easy, but this was honestly the hardest issue of Grounds to date. On a few different occasions, I thought I’d just quit and give it up, but even in those times, something kept pushing me forward, leading me and teaching me about community through the editing and publishing process of this issue.
As the main editor of The Grounds Journal, I get the great privilege to assign and guide every piece in each issue. I’ve worked hard to expand our little group of writers, our own little community, and while I’m so thankful for the new voices represented in this issue, the expansion brought along new problems that I did not expect.
To be clear, this is not at all an attack on any of our writers. The problem is me. I wanted and expected everyone to cater to my needs immediately. I expected articles to say exactly what I wanted them to say in the way that I wanted them to say it, but that’s not really how this whole digital-publication thing works. What good are new and different voices if they all sound the same as me?
This idea challenged me as I edited and prepared these articles, and honestly, the pieces presented in this issue helped shape my understanding of my role as the editor of this little publication. I began to realize that if I want Grounds to be a community, I need to embrace diversity and difference. I need to listen instead of speak at times, and I need to invite criticism and correction.
Then I realized that this is the same type of community Christ calls His people to.
The Church, the body of God, needs diversity and difference. We, as members of the body, need to recognize our tendency to seek community simply for what it brings us. I’ve put the same expectations that I had for the writers on friends and family members in my life. Often, the people closest to me just function as tools and resources for me to accomplish my goals, but that’s not community. Community is working things out together. It’s getting through the tough stuff and moving through it. Good friendship and good relationships don’t just end when trials come; they learn to power through them. I didn’t realize how much I personally struggled with that until I read the articles in this issue.
Maybe I’m alone in all this. Maybe you’ve got the whole community thing down, but if you don’t, if you, like me, struggle with what it means to live as one body even when your spiritual brothers and sisters annoy you or disagree with you, if you’re not sure how to reconcile relationships when a friend says something hurtful, or if you’re still learning what it means to love the “other”, to love your neighbor as yourself, then this issue is for you. Our hope is that it challenges us all to better mirror Christ in our communities and to better live out the Church’s mission to be His body in all we do.