Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Destination Community"

This week I would like to address what I think most lifestyles have become in America - Destination Community! I use this term quite frequently and am beginning to realize it is one of my personal coined phrases that a lot of folks do not understand. So, let me try to unpack what I mean by that phrase. Fifty years ago, life in community meant life with those people within a 10 mile geographic radius of your designated home. You had relationships with your neighbors, school mates, job peers or church members and you occasionally drove to visit friends who had moved out of town. Those who moved beyond driving distance maintained relationships through writing letters and the yearly Christmas card.

Fast forward to this century... we now drive to almost every type of community gathering we have as people groups. We drive to church, school, sport activities, dance lessons and a lot of us drive more than 20 miles to our job. In fast-paced corporate culture, many folks even board planes each week the way most of us get into cars to drive to the grocery store. I label this phenomena "Destination Community"... meaning, in broad generalities, we travel to get to the people we do life with or are known by. We are no longer well known by the people who live on our block, as community life is no longer limited to the geographic proximity of a town or neighborhood the way it has been for centuries. Community, face-to-face, is now "on location" at the end of a car or plane ride.

I do think that there are many great things about all the opportunities within this phenomena; but there are also sad things about it for me. Growing up in a small town in a wonderful neighborhood, my family was known and developed a deep, rich heritage within our community. That rarely happens any longer unless a family is financially rich or famous. Also, there was a lot of accountability and help when I needed it, as all my neighbors saw when I was playing outside as a child or driving downtown once I got my license to cruise in the car. I did not always like that; but, as I have aged and had a child, I realize what a wonderful thing that really was! My own child will never experience that type of lifestyle with what our community lifestyle now looks like in the U.S.

I will share about some other things I see with this new community lifestyle in the next couple of posts. However, till then, I would like to ask each of you to think about how many "destination community" groups you are a part of and how it effects your lifestyle as a family or single. It has profound effects on the way you do life; yet, many of us never really think through this or limit our number of destination community groups until we drop from exhaustion!

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