Chapter

Can the Church Sustain Community?

Robert Wuthnow

in Christianity in the Twenty-First Century

Published in print June 1995 | ISBN: 9780195096514
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853380 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195096514.003.0003
Can the Church Sustain Community?

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The church of the 21st century, like that of previous centuries, will probably remain vibrant as long as it can provide people with a strong sense of community. The congregation, therefore, remains at the heart of the church and, in turn, at the heart of Christianity. But can the congregation continue adequately to sustain community? Students of American religion have begun to debate this question with increasing interest but as yet remain divided. Some see continuity with the past and even a rebirth of interest in the communal values of religion; others envision a declining role for the church. The evidence that can be pieced together from surveys and from talking with people in greater depth provides many indications of the vitality of American religion as a facilitator of community, but also points toward some worrisome signs for the future. This chapter discusses three kinds of community, namely, community of support, community of residence, and community of service. It also examines the relation between the church and individualism and the emergence of the new voluntarism.

Keywords: Christianity; church; future; community; congregation; religion; individualism; voluntarism; community of service; community of support

Chapter.  4450 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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