What is a good and healthy Christian community? This is a question that I’ve been wrestling with for a while. When I chose this topic, I thought it would be relatively easy, but as the weeks went on and the community in semester continued, this question and topic grew. After reflecting on my past and this community, I learned a lot about myself and the beauty of Summit Semester. It became daunting to write about the experience of this community. I don’t think I will do it justice in writing this; however, I will try and walk you through my process of reflection.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity” (Psalm 133: 1).
When I was 14, my father called the family together and told us we were leaving the church I had been going to my whole life. I was frustrated and sad. My friends were there, and I only saw them on Sunday. That was taken away from me. However, although my friends were there, I always hated going to church. It was boring and stuck up, and I longed for the days we skipped church. What made me uncomfortable and mad was the fact that I was leaving that which was familiar to me. We began to visit different churches around the area, which was weird; all of them were different in so many ways. However, every church of the four or five we went to had a friend of mine in it, except one. This one church (called Redeemer) was also a 40-minute drive from our house, much longer than I was used to. One day, my parents had asked me which church I liked best. I don’t know why, but I knew it was Redeemer. Even with its inconveniences, it seemed in my head the only option. I soon fell in love with the church, especially my church. Early on, I saw the love people had for my family and me in a way I had never seen. It soon became clear the people in the church had a love that was foreign yet amazing to me. It was during this time I became a Christian and began to take my faith as my own.
I considered myself a guarded and independent person. Although I have friends that I’m close with, I often keep to myself. It’s only in reflecting on this community and my past that I realized that although I am that way, I’m most impacted when I’m in community. Church, family, friends—I highly value these things and hadn’t realized how much they had and are changing me.
“I wanna have friends that I can trust that love me for the man I’ve become, not the man that was” (Perfect Space by The Avett Brothers).
The question of a good and healthy community is one that has been big for the staff here as well, and that is made clear through the schedule and rituals of Semester. We eat meals, clean dishes, maintain the property, sing, have class, and confess our sins together! And that’s just one day. To go into everything we do in community and why I love it, would take way too long, so I will keep it short and to the point. Everything we do has a purpose both practically and for growth in unity. For example, washing dishes is obviously practical because we have a lot of dishes, but it’s a great time to serve the community not because you want to do dishes (although I do have a lot of fun) but because you want to give to this community and ultimately God. These highly liturgical days have brought me a love for physical worship and ritual, which only brings me closer to the ones I worship with. Singing the doxology before every meal, kneeling at the dinner table and confessing, or staining the wood walls, all bring worship to God and allow for comradery with everyone. Faith brings us together in a way I have rarely seen.
“In other words, life together will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society… but rather it understands itself as being a part of the one, holy, catholic, Christian Church, where it cares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles and promise of the whole Church” (Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
The Semester community is rare in the rest of reality, but so is a lot of true community. This blog was due within the first two weeks, and I’m so glad I procrastinated. Because it was only in experiencing this community and reflecting that I could find the indescribable beauty of this place and the gift of God that it is. I hadn’t realized it until recently, I am a sucker for a good community, and although I love being here, I can’t wait to bring it back to my family, church, or any other communities. What is a good and healthy community? What good and healthy communities do you have? Hopefully, I have shown you (as best I can) a community I find good and healthy. Although I don’t have a clear answer to the question, its clear Christ-centeredness is a great foundation. My prayer is that more true community will come on this earth but, boy, am I excited for the one to come.
By Charlie Curtis: Charlie Curtis is an 18-year-old student from Tampa, FL. He has homeschooled all his life and graduated high school in 2020. Although he lived there his whole life, Charlie doesn’t like Florida at all. He loves the mountains and hiking. During Semester, Charlie is excited for great conversations, building great relationships, and of course, Colorado.