Community & Humanity

“One’s own self-worth is tied to the worth of the community to which one belongs, which is intimately connected to humanity in general. What happens in Darfur becomes an assault on my own community, and on me as an individual. That’s what the human family is all about”.
Great quote from Tom P by Wole Soyinka in this article in the Guardian. Love the idea that in connecting to community we connect to the rest of humanity. Do you feel like church does that for you? How can we do it better?

10 thoughts on “Community & Humanity

  1. Dear ex-COTC member, in your original post you write: “I can’t say I’m following well, or even dare to say that I am saved”
    I’m interested in that idea, that you don’t know whether you’re saved or not. Didn’t Jesus come to save us once and for all? e.g
    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)
    Please know I’m not being provocative or critical, I am very much still a ‘beginner’ Christian, and I know there is a lot I don’t know. So I’m simply interested to hear your perspective.
    The other thing I personally believe is that just as heaven has many rooms, so churches are necessarily varied and cater for many different tastes in terms of styles of worship, teaching, etc. I visited lots of different churches before I found COTC and when I got to COTC I felt like I was coming home. I completely understand that it wouldn’t be right for everyone but then that seems inevitable: God made each one of us unique and so of course we’re going to have radically different approaches to practising our faiths… but why does that have to be a problem?

  2. I’m sure you have noticed that none of your comments have been deleted.
    Sorry for the cult comment, not intended to be offensive, but I am still not quite sure what it is that you think we are missing. I don’t think your a complaint is about our community, but rather about our theology and so that is very important and I am quite prepared to hear any criticism.

    It seems to me that you are saying we are not proclaiming the Gospel in a way that is ‘simple humble and true and not dressed up in any way’.
    If that is your critisism then you have raised an interesting point. I would refer you first to Acts 17:16-34 and would like to hear more of what you think we should be doing. (BTW – don’t make assumptions about anyone being a ‘Cornhill Scholar’)

  3. I am grateful for all of your feedback on my comments and encouraged by Kate and Simon.

    You are quite right James, I entirely agree with you but this is not my point. I am not talking about feeling rejected by the people in your church or expecting them to give sustenance to your insecurities and fears. This is impossible for humans to do on a genuine and compassionate level anything like that of Jesus. When you truly have a part in God’s kingdom, you soon realise your part, and there is none of this hunger and disappointment because HE sustains you.

    Mark, your comment about me being in a cult made me laugh but it is to be expected if you challenge what is the acceptable norm for trendy church fellowship these days. Of course this may be a convenient excuse for you to delete my comments (that is your prerogative as minister and moderator) but then surely the definition of cult leader comes into question. I am genuinely sorry you feel that way and I do not mean to deliberately offend. However, the truth hurts, it hurt me in ways you cannot imagine and still does. And there is no ritual sacrifice or weird bloody chanting, yattering in “tongues” or anything like what you nice Cornhill scholars rally against. But, there will always remain the bare fact that out there there is simple truth of the Gospel, humble and true and not dressed up in any way. I am glad God found me, when there I was, part of the Barnsbury mission, supposedly an example for others, in terrible doubt about my eternal future. I must stress that I still will never assume salvation, we never can, but striving for the simple truth of God is the most important thing of all. If only I could manage it – this is my desire.

    Anyway, it really is not my intention to get preachy (really!). So I’ll sign off, I hope you can read this without thinking I am being bitter or presumptious. I have not one thing against the people of COTC – some were lovely, some were fake and patronising, some were needy and some were inspiring – like in all things. Personalities, social class, race and political affiliation are beside the point in this debate.

  4. Thanks for your comments -James yours is particularly helpful. However I don’t thing the writer is complaining about the quality of relationships in our community (important issue though that is). I think it is a theological agenda. We are empty/arrogant/complacent because we don’t have the ‘saving truth’. For example they write “Ask yourself where is your own soul going???? That’s the only thing you have control over and only until you feel sure you have found the saving truth”. It is not made clear what that truth is – perhaps they could explain it more clearly? Thus our good intentions are meaningless because we are not saved ourselves.
    The more I read this comment the more concerned I am that this person has got involved in some kind of cult. I hope that isn’t the case.

  5. Mmm.. Interesting debate going on here… I have this to say:

    I have felt rejected, frustrated and angry at my church family (which is COTC) over a few months in the past and what I came to realise is this – I was doing the judging, I was critising, I was on the offensive. Why?

    The reason I felt these things was because I thought that church was meant to be full of people that care and love and put others first; full of people that reach out and reach in when one is residing in a place of darkness or hurt. Full of people that would help me, serve me, reach out to me.

    The truth I found is this – The people who go to my church are human just like me, full of failiures, weaknesses and problems (sin if you wanna get spiritual), just like me. They are not all spiritual and sorted like my brain often trys to tell me.

    I have got to ask them to forgive me for my actions – the way I thought about them, the way I judged them, the way felt I was wronged. The truth is maybe they did fail me, maybe they did wrong me but ultimately we are all given the same command in the Bible – to seek to resolve and do not be slow in doing so.

    I for one will be doing this when I feel strong enough, for now I let it be and pray to God about that if I feel any/the anger raising it’s head.

    See we all have a responsibility, the problem occurs when we see that responsibility as someone elses.

  6. should i dip my toe into this one? probably not but then when has that stopped me before? i also need to give advance warning that i am dislexic and my spell check dont work on bloggs.
    the sentiment of attack on another community effecting me or mine doesnt stand up, i get upset (briefly) to see darfor in the news but does it realy affect me? no course it dosnt.i have my own worries just like every one else i figure that only a small percentige of people are actualy deeply effected/do anything more then a quick added prayer. fair play to amy for going of and risking mind and body.
    as for the rather pissed off coraspondent i can kind of see there point. i tend to see a rather middle class profesional church which i often feel no conection to. i can count on my hand the times i have invited for a drink or dinner, probably because i tend to be a grumpy git, the point being that if i wasnt the person i am then i would feel marginalised and would probably leave the church. so i supose i tend to agree . i find cotc can be shallow and not the strong unifying force that maybe it could be. this isnt a pop at my fellow parisheners but from my point of view its something we need to work on more, me included. we can be good ,very good but white middle class complasence tends to let us down.

  7. What churches do you recommend? I agree that there are different levels of truth in different churches. I am probably going to become Orthodox or Catholic over the next few years.

  8. Forgive my outrage but you are talking such nonsense! It’s your social conditioning, great white hopism and a labour government which makes you think that you should make an effort to be with those on the margins, the illegal immigrants and those in gun crime. As if YOU’RE on a higher playing field than them and they need your charity!! What makes you dare to make this assumption??? Ask yourself where is your own soul going???? That’s the only thing you have control over and only until you feel sure you have found the saving truth (which you HAVE NOT at COTC – trust me I have been there and am very glad that it showed me the meaning of EMPTY fellowship) can you begin to worry about others and those people who most need saving may be those you least expect. I am sorry at the tone of this message – I am very angry at this kind of attitude. I am a wretched sinner and in dire need of God’s salvation. I’m not a migrant or a gang member or a druggie. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?????!!! The poorest spirit may be in the richest body and vice versa. Worry for yourselves. I really don’t mean to sound arrogant but the best thing I ever did in my life was to leave this kind of dead church in my past and seek true life. I can’t say I’m following well, or even dare to say that I am saved, but I KNOW where the wellsprings of life are because God answered my cries to show me what was true.And it came in the quietest, most humble package, not a flashy, trendy church which goes some way towards assuaging your guilt about your wealth. By the way, this was when I was part of Barnsbury mission, fast realising the emptiness of it all. I know you have good intentions… I have been among you and one of you, but only be honest with yourself and question whether you really think you have found the way. Forgive me for my arrogance and anger.

  9. I like the article too. Do I feel that church does this for me and how can we do it better ? For me the answer is yes and no. I paid a one off visit to C n the C last weekend and got a lovely warm welcome. The singing was great and the enthusiasm striking. All a bit different from my normal church – much more social interaction and sociable feel. And of course the building is novel and the worship style different too. Got me thinking. Social interaction (or talking to people to be more straightforward) is perhaps harder when the people around are from a different generation, a different culture, social class, speak a different language or stand at the back with their mates from the confirmation class looking just a bit threatening, very cool and quite bored. But the truth is I don’t really make the effort. Another truth is that Jesus never said that Christianity is easy. Church is about communities and people. I am sure that the style of building is not really that important. I am fairly sure that the style of worship is not the most important thing and if the singing is a bit ropey then I’ll get over that too. What I think is important is that we stand (or sit or kneel or whatever we do) alongside refugees, people on the margins, people involved in gun crime, people from all races, cultures and backgrounds. I am heartened when the priest makes his weekly plea for us to be involved in the stangers into citizens campain (check out and reminds us that the citizens amoungst us need to support the illegal immigrants in our midst in this. I feel guilty for not doing more and not having gone out on that rainy day to the rally. On the social interaction and friendliness – its up to me to make more effort. I can’t complain that people don’t speak to me if I don’t speak to them. So, I’ll take some of that C on the C friendly attitude and enthusiasm back to my traditional parish tomorrow and see how I get on. Maybe this is how we can connect church, community and humanity ?

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