Diversity key to a healthy community

erika-meeker3Community. Everyone on campus has heard this word so many times it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore. Merriam-Webster defines community as “a group of people who live in the same area” or “a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.” There is obviously a JBU community, as many of us share the same religious ideology and live in fairly close quarters. However, we have a large community around us that seemingly few of us really engage in.

     Siloam Springs is a town of 16,000 people, which surrounds our campus. Many of our professors live in town, and many of us venture out to get groceries, avoid the cafeteria, sit in a church service and make midnight runs to Waffle House. Although we are in the community, how often are we really engaging?

     So often when we venture off campus, we do so with our group of other JBU students around us. We go to church and sit with our friends, taking little notice of other people. We go to Pour Jons, put in our headphones and invest ourselves in our homework, ignoring the person working behind the counter. For a campus that speaks so highly of community, we’ve done a pretty good job of ignoring the one God has given us.

     When we talk so much about community, we need to remember to look at one of the first examples we are given. The early church did an excellent job of living together in community. Luke tells us how they were living in the book of Acts, recording that “They worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47 NLT).

“We have a large community around us that seemingly few of us really engage in.”

 The important thing to remember is that the early church was not comprised of a single demographic. It was not just men. It was not just people in college. It was people of all ages and all occupations doing life together. They were men, women, children, doctors, preachers, carpenters, merchants, housewives, etc. They only had such a beautiful community because there was diversity among them in all things.

     I’m not saying that we don’t experience community on campus. We certainly do. However, I am challenging all of us to engage in the greater Siloam community so that the people of this town may experience community in the way God intended.

     As college students, there are several ways we can do this. For instance, many of us regularly attend church on Sunday mornings. Rather than sitting with other JBU students, sit with a family you have never met before. Talk to them and get to know them. Love them the way God would love them. Additionally, there is a group of ministries on campus called CAUSE Ministries. Each of these ministries takes time to go out into the greater Siloam community and connect with the people around us. With 17 different CAUSE Ministries, I can guarantee there will be one you want to be involved in.

There are so many opportunities for us to be involved throughout the Siloam Springs community. All we have to do is step out and take them.

Regier is a junior majoring in Christian ministry and formation. She can be reached at RegierE@jbu.edu