com·mu·ni·ty (kəˈmyo͞onitē) – noun: a unified body of individuals.
Pittsburgh is an incredibly diverse area. There are neighborhoods and communities all throughout the city. What I’m discovering through conversations I’m having with people is that surprisingly, each community almost has its own culture. It’s almost as if these communities are little separate towns. Each has its own traditions, lifestyles, ethnicities, religious beliefs and overall ways of life. And even more surprising is that each of these communities seems to not really mingle with the others, at least not when it comes to spiritual beliefs.
As a church planter, this is something that really interests me. A week ago, I took a trip to the Steel City for some intentional time of prayer, vision and conversation. During this time I began asking this question: How do we integrate these separate communities into one cohesive body?
I’ll tell you right now – I don’t have the answer to that question. I don’t believe one person, or one church for that matter, can do something like that. I believe it takes (and hold on to your seat) multiple gospel-centered churches working together. What does that look like from a practical standpoint? Given our context, I can’t say that I know at this moment. But this has become a major point of interest for me as a church planter, and I believe it will be a key element of our mission as Steel City Church.
I do know, however, that the church in America has become more and more about territorial occupancy rather than cooperative evangelism. I believe we can be a part of a movement that changes that. I don’t think Pittsburgh is alone in this territorial community layout. I think this idea is much broader than the Steel City. And I believe restoration is part of the solution. If we could restore the local church in our culture to the local church Jesus said He would build, we would have communities not worried about stepping on one another’s territory, because our collective territory would be defined not by geographic boundaries, but by any place in need of the gospel.
Again, I can’t say I know at this point what all of this looks like on a practical level, but I do believe in God’s vision, and that tells me restoration is coming.