Arguably, community is the core value of every Christian School. The Biblical concept of shalom means more than peace in the sense of “not fighting”, or a mere gathering of people of like mind – it implies relational wholeness, fullness, or completeness. As those created in God’s image, this shalom is what we were made for, what we have broken, what the work of Christ redeemed, and what we are co-workers with Him in restoring in this world that belongs to Him.
One of the most well-known Biblical metaphors is that of Christian community and the body. We need all the parts to work together in order to experience health and true flourishing. However, just as maintaining a healthy body is not something that happens by itself, shalom does not happen without careful attention to our activity…or lack thereof.
Our students need to learn and experience that community is built through our engagement, attitudes, words, working through conflict, and acts of kindness. This is something that we all need to learn. We are all called to be community-builders!
Passages to Ponder: 1 Corinthians 12; Psalm 133; Philippians 2; 1 Peter 4:10-11
Five Commandments for Involving Youth in Community Building
- Always start with the gifts, talents, knowledge, and skills of young people – never with their needs and problems.
- Always lift up the unique individual, never the category to which the young person belongs (e.g., “Maria, the great soccer player,” not “Maria, the at-risk youth”).
- Share the convictions that (a) every community is filled with useful opportunities for young people to contribute and (b) there is no community institution or association that can’t find a useful role for young people.
- Try to distinguish between real community-building work and games or fakes – because young people know the difference.
- Fight – in every way you can – age segregation. Work to overcome the isolation of young people.
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