I'll bet a sense of community is one of the most reassuring things ever. I mean, just imagine going/being some place where you're surrounded by like-minded individuals who all want to work together toward a common goal. Wouldn't that be nice?
My only experience like that has been college. Where you are in classes with other people who are also slaving away to try and become a doctor or nurse... where they feel just as challenged and frustrated and are chasing that same elusive dream.
This is what I imagine church to be like. You meet up with 100 (or, if you attend one of these mass churches like they have around here - 5,000) other people who all share your beliefs and values... you trust them with your children, you invite them in your home. It has to be a very good "warm and fuzzy" kind of feeling.
Which is why it must pain some people terribly when complicated issues arise that can cause a rift to form between friends. We saw the understandable devastation of the Catholic community as the scandals of a few brought the faith of millions into question. And now we see it again with the new openly gay Bishop who has been welcomed into the Episcopal church.
What happens to the average "Joe Q. Churchgoer" during all of this? Does he now feel divided from some of his warm and fuzzy friends, because they disagree? Does he feel betrayed? Does he feel angry? Do the friends stand together to strengthen themselves?
A very prickly pear, to be sure.