Invitation is not only a step in bring people together, it is also a fundamental way of being in community. It manifests the willingness to live in a collaborative way. This means that a future can be created without having to force it or sell it or barter for it. When we believe that barter or subtle coercion is necessary, we are operating out of a context of scarcity and self-interest, the core currencies of the economist. Barter or coercion seems necessary when we have little faith in citizen’s desire and capacity to operate out of idealism. The choice for idealism or cynicism is a spiritual stance about the nature of human beings. Cynicism gets justified by naming itself “reality.”
A commitment to invitation as a core strategy is betting on a world not dependant on barter and incentives. It is a choice for idealism and determines the context within which people show up. For all the agony of a volunteer effort, you are rewarded by being in a room with people who are up to something larger than their immediate self-interest. You are constantly in the room with people who want to be there, even if their numbers are few. The concern we have about the turnout is simply an expression of our own doubts about the possibility that given a free choice, people will choose to create a future distinct from the past.
Peter Block, “Community: The Structure of Belonging” page 117.
“Invitation as a fundamental way of being in community.”
I love that line. It assumes that invitation is fundamental in any community context.
But invitations offer some risk. Particularly if the invitation is to belong.
When we invite others into belonging, it means they will very likely be brand spanking new to the story of that community. It means, that they will have a fresh take at the past, and the possibilities of the future. This means a potential for change, or doing things differently. This can be scary. For some who have been part of the story for along time, this means risk.
Invite people into your church community. Empower the fresh perspective and see what happens.
How do ‘new people’ gain a sense of belonging in your community? What do they offer? What do they challenge?