What Does Community Mean When People Keep Leaving?

My wife Faith and I live together with two housemates. It’s great having other folks to share our home with, not to mention the gas and electric bill! I’ve always lived in some form of community or another, so it’s hard to even imagine life without anyone else in the house.

Right now, though, we’re in a time of transition. Both of our housemates, within 2 weeks of one another, let us know that they planned to move out.

That either of them would move out wasn’t surprising. It was always understood that they wouldn’t be with us forever. Still, it was rather startling to learn that both of them would be moving out this summer.

This shift has me thinking again about the overall transience of our city – Washington, DC. Many people, especially younger people, come here for a relatively short period of time. We come for work, fun, and adventure. But very few of us come with the intention to stay.

The fact that Faith and I have stayed in the District as long as we have is something of a miracle. I certainly didn’t think I’d be here for this long. With almost six years logged here in DC, I almost count as a veteran, at least among folks in my age range. Our city is often visited, but rarely settled.

What does this transience mean for the possibility of being part of a long-term, stable community? What does community even mean in the context of the unceasing ebb and flow of arrivals and departures? What does it mean to be the church, the people of God walking in the way of Jesus, when it often seems uncertain how long any of us will be here?

I don’t have any answers to these questions. I invite your thoughts and wisdom into my perplexity.

Does community require stability, or can real gospel life be sustained even in environments of great upheaval and disconnection? How does that work? What does it mean to walk together as friends of Jesus in the midst of so much hustle and bustle?

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