Instead, for now, I'm taking it an another direction - but one I didn't anticipate when I began writing the first post. It's also not a line of reflection with which I'm entirely comfortable, because it may make others uncomfortable, or even angry. But that's not until the next post. :-) For now, I'm just going to answer the question I ended with last time:
[I]s it an Acts-like Christian community if you just spend all your time with your fellow disciples? What about inviting, welcoming, and making room for the stranger, the unknown neighbor, the person in need? Is that important too?
Um...yes. It's pretty much the essence of the gospel, in my opinion. There's nothing more important for a Christian community than to do this. Without a primary emphasis on these missional relationships with the "other", there is, in my opinion, no Christian community. That was an easy one. Next question?
Next question is harder. I'm claiming that two key activities of a healthy Christian community are a) spending time with fellow Jesus-followers in your community, building mutual understanding, trust, and love, encouraging each other toward maturity, etc., and b) spending time with those currently outside the community, especially those in need, blessing and serving them. Those aren't in priority order; in my opinion, both are essential, and neither ought to be compromised. So my next, potentially uncomfortable question is this: what do the committed disciples in most churches actually spend their time doing?