The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Avoiding wish dreams

Do we build community?

“He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, HarperSanFrancisco, 1978; page 27).

Those words follow a section where he addresses the problem of wish-dreaming for some ideal community instead of concrete Christian community with its problems and struggles. These ideas introduce into the community a personal agenda at the cost of harmony and consensus. It happens when a member or pastor tries to make sure a certain policy is adopted regardless of the traditions of that body of Christ.

Much more than harmony is lost when we have wish dreams. The resultant conflict often creates a dwindling sense of mission. Consequently, people vote with their feet (stop attending worship) and with their dollars (reduce or drop their support for that congregation). At that point, they also are dropping out of that congregation's witness to the community and the larger mission of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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