By Les Henson.
Seriously embedded in Western society and worldview is the concept of ‘individualism'. The autonomous ‘individual’ is often at odds, and even hostile, to the image of the church as a ‘community of faith.’ This bias, even in the church. Tends toward independence instead of interdependency. It touches the very nature of the life and faith of the people of God. At the same time, a sense of community is not totally absent from the life of the contemporary Western church and society. It must be recognised that self-sufficiency and the privatisation of the Christian faith are common features of Christianity today. The church is understood as a 'voluntary society,’ which one joins out of personal choice and for the sake of meeting one’s individual need in our consumer-orientated society. Church membership is often considered optional by many of those who consider themselves to be Christian. Also, Christian discipleship is often self-focus rather than orientated towards the community of faith as a dynamic corporate entity. However, beneath the surface is a profound hunger in Western society for relationship and community that only genuine faith and authentic community can truly meet.