This book is a guide for leaders seeking to build a community, to strengthen the community they already have, or who may not think of themselves as community leaders but who are envisioning a group they hope to create. These communities can be formal, with official memberships and administrations, or informal, tied by shared values and commitments. Some people think communities happen by accident, or have to emerge organically, but Charles Vogl emphasizes that there are solid, time-honored principles for consciously building them.
Drawing on 3,000 years of tradition, Vogl lays out seven enduring principles that every community of every kind must master to be effective and supportive. He describes each principle's purpose and provides extensive hands-on tools for implementing them. He also helps leaders ensure that their communities remain healthy and life-affirming and not degenerate into rigid cults.
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Informative and Insightful
The Art of Community is chock full of real life examples - making it clear what has worked for organizations and groups to grow and increase participation. Rather than being prescriptive, it shows those who are interested in community many ways to create excitement and enthusiasm and belonging, no right way, just ways that have worked.
All of the first-hand experiences the author has had.
When the author discovered people were asking how to attend the dinners he was hosting and training others to host. People were eager to be invited.
I personally realized that I sometimes feel myself pulled to be further and further up the diaconate in my communities, and that is part of my human nature. I found it freeing that I don't have to pursue being in the innermost ring in every community I participate in, and I can experience that in my own community that I am creating with my husband.
This book would also be helpful for those who wish to create a movement around a cause, a shift in behavior or consciousness. A sense of community and belonging are very powerful for that.
- Mea Chavez
Creating your own community
I enjoyed learning about how the inner rings of a group work. You become an insider the closer you get to the innermost ring. You may get to participate in some decision-making. You become like an elder of the group. But you can also choose to stay in the outer rings if that suits you better. It's about belonging to a group at your own comfort level.
My favorite character is the foreign student (from the Philippines?) who was at college the same time as the author. He got invited to the weekly dinners, although he couldn't go regularly. He was going to quit school because he felt so alone but he found community with his dinner companions. He later wrote a letter to the author telling him how much it meant to him to be invited and feel like part of a community.
This is the first time I've listened to Tom Dheere perform. He has a personable, conversational, believable reading style.
The most interesting thing I learned was the difference between religion and a cult. While some religious groups seem to be like cults because their theology is a bit over the top, cults are far more dangerous because they require allegiance to the one leader. People end up doing things that, under other circumstances, would be objectionable (e.g., fanatical loyalty to the leader, the leader is the only one with all the knowledge, power, etc.). Cults are about control; you can't leave. Religions have a code of conduct but members can leave if they so choose.
I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.