A Community Rises from the Rubble

What can a person learn about communityfrom moving a pile of rocks?

In early July, I went to Two Rivers, Alaska as a part of a short-term mission team from the Midwest. Our team of 37 worked in cooperation with the local congregation to renovate a Nazarene church.

During the first week of the project, I started to move a pile of rubble. Brenda joined me then Rachel and Jane. The four of us piled the chunks of rock and cement into two wheelbarrows and removed them from the yard, dumping them into a pile in the parking lot.

At first, I worked alone. Then I worked as if alone. Finally I worked as a part of a team.

Let’s look at how the lesson unfolds.

Someone has to take the initiative. In this case, I saw the pile of rubble and asked about moving it. I knew it would be in the way later when our work team moved forward on putting in a new handicap ramp for the church.

In the start of any new community, someone needs to take the first step in order for the group to become a reality. The initiator offers the idea or the place or the project (or perhaps all of the above) that gets things off the ground.

An invitation needs to go out for others to join. In this case, the invitation started with Brenda. She asked, “Could you use some help?”


I said, “Yes,” and pointed her in the direction of another wheelbarrow.

While we worked, Rachel and Jane joined us. During the small project, the opportunity to work with us remained open. At some point, the work site would have been saturated but, in our case, it never got to that point.

The point of building community is to invite others into a shared faith relationship, an intentional focus on growing in Jesus Christ. At some point, the size of the group will dictate the need to initiate a new group all over again, but the desire to be open and inviting remains constant.

Assessment of the work and change must take place. As I stated earlier, I worked alone. Then I worked as if alone. Finally I worked as a part of a team.

Once the project began and people joined in, we evolved into a shared partnership and the work progressed rapidly.

We started poorly but improved with time. We learned together where best to put the wheelbarrows for loading and how to use four bodies and two wheelbarrows in sync.

An important note. We didn’t wait to figure out the best way to do things before we started. We learned them as we worked together. If we had waited, we would have started later and learned less.

As a faith community moves forward, it may seem a bit awkward at first. For certain it will have its share of problems, but in finding solutions, people’s skills will emerge within the community experience and sharpen with time.

I’m curious. What are the possibilities of building Christian community you could either initiate or participate in? What are some obstacles you face as you grow with other believers?

In the context of community, Julie Anders shares dirty words here and here at Come Have a Peace.

Jon Stolpe shares how “Community Can Change the World” at Jon Stolpe Stretched.


Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes

Two men. Two eternal destinies.

One common hope.

My novel can be found at:

WestBow Press


Barnes & Noble

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About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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4 Responses to A Community Rises from the Rubble

  1. Jon Stolpe says:

    Thanks for the mention today. It’s cool to see how working in community can move mountains!

    • tnealtarver says:

      As I commented on your blog, you’ve written about a topic I consider a top priority, community centered in Jesus Christ. Glad to exchange thoughts on our blogs.

  2. Thank you for the mention! It sounds like God nurtured some quality community on your short term trip, and I can only imagine how that model impacted any who saw, as well.

    • tnealtarver says:

      I appreciate your recent “dirty words” posts. The last two especially made me think about the reality that Christian community is far from perfect but Jesus loved/loves the church anyway.

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