Houston Graduate School of Theology

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Academic Excellence, Personal Transformation, Leadership Development

Go and Make Community

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by Dr. Becky Towne, Academic Dean and Professor of Christian Spirituality A few years ago, my husband and I would regularly load up our bicycles and drive to a winding trail by a creek to exercise, talk, and unwind while riding the trail. After the ride, we would normally visit a nearby restaurant and share an order of fajitas. One summer evening on the drive back home, we passed through a neighborhood. People were in the yards, grills were fired up, children were running and playing, and I teared up. I discovered that I was longing for that kind of backyard, leaning-over-the-fence, eating, laughing, noisy community that I observed in that neighborhood.

Another image I have of community is hanging out on shady decks or patios on summer evenings, just watching the sun set and talking with friends—old and new. There is something wonderful about closing down the computer, detaching from Facebook, Instagram, Voxer, Google (you get the picture) and going outside to look into the eyes of people within reach.

Parker Palmer once wrote that spiritual formation is soul work done in community. I also wonder if discipleship is soul work done in community. I love solitude and silence and am comfortable there; but I sometimes sense that my deepest longings include being with people in those sitting-on-the-deck, hanging-over-the-fence-for-conversation kinds of ways.

Could that be a little of what Jesus meant in the Great Commission to “go and make disciples”? In addition to going into all the world, I wonder if disciples can be made by hanging out on the patio or waiting for the burgers to finish cooking. Somehow, I think that might be some of the best places for discipleship. So, now, in my current situation and as a few years have gone by, I need to figure out how to do what I’m longing for and just go and make some community.