Just over the Bay Bridge from San Francisco is the 15-acre home of Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar is a company known for unprecedented excellence in the world of computer animation, so it is no surprise that its campus reflects this sense of imaginative wonder. Walk into Pixar Animation Studios and you’ll be greeted by twenty foot high character statues, beautiful paintings, and even man-sized Lego sculptures. The campus was designed by Steve Jobs and includes a soccer field, volleyball court, swimming pool, and a six-hundred-seat amphitheater. Ed Catmull, Pixar’s President, had this to say about the studio’s headquarters, “Sometimes visitors misunderstand the place, thinking it’s fancy for fancy’s sake. What they miss is that the unifying idea for the building isn’t luxury but community.”
In the church it’s very easy to confuse luxury and community. Luxury is all about receiving. We want the Church to meet our needs, to entertain us, to make us feel comfortable. We want The Church to be a social club where our egos are stroked and our reputations are touted. We want the best music, the fanciest graphics, and the most engaging preaching.
Community, on the other hand, is all about giving. In true community we put the needs of others before our own. We listen to each other and pray with one another. We share what we have and give without expecting anything in return. We forgive and encourage each other. We show up for those in need and we reach out to our neighbors together.
So what’s the difference? How do we build a church centered around community and not luxury? It starts when we come to the realization that The Church is really not about us at all. It’s about Christ. Bonhoeffer said, “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ.” Self-giving community is not something we create, it’s something we enter into. The only way for us to be a self-giving community is to be centered on the one who gave Himself for us. Christ is the center of true Community, and the second we move away from Christ we replace community with luxury. Think about that the next time you watch Toy Story.