Today, while reading in Mary Moschella’s book Ethnography as a Pastoral Practice, I was reminded of too many experiences in local churches. She refers to Margaret Kornfeld who differentiates between “real communities” and “pseudo-communities.”
A real community: “a place where people are free to be themselves and know that they will be accepted, a place where conflict can be expressed and resolved, and a place where diversity of opinion is offered.”
A pseudo-community: “may seem friendly at first, but it is really not a safe place in which to express an opinion that diverges from the group’s stated values. If you are different in a pseudo-community, you feel it immediately; you feel pressured, not safe. You sense that you do not fit in, that there is no room for difference of opinion, and you may ‘go into hiding.’”
Churches have for too long pretended to be real communities. Even our own church has a history in which we have actually been a pseudo-community. It is easy to be friendly with those who agree with you. It is easy to accept those who live like you do. The problem is that these are not the people we are supposed to be reaching with the gospel.
I hope our church will always strive to be a real genuine community where people, even different ones, are accepted. I know I have personally been guilty of causing some to feel uncomfortable, so my prayer begins for myself. I pray that Christ, in making us more like him, will make us more loving to those who are unlike us.
 Cultivating Wholeness: A guide to care and counseling in Faith Communities