The building blocks of community are very simple - they are the individual relationships between people rather than the people themselves.
At our lunch after the service yesterday we only had 12 people - others had had to leave. At first I thought, 'What a shame that we are not large in number'. But as time went on I realised how precious this opportunity was. An opportunity for us to not just speak with each other but also to have quite long conversations, without thinking that we had to get round to speak with many more people. The general pattern seems that as we eat our savoury course we attempt a large table discussion - with some side discussions which tend to be short-lived - but then when we have pudding and teas/coffees people form into smaller groups and have more intense conversations.
These tend not to be times for debate and difference but for chats and similarities. I remember hearing on the radio many years ago that the vast majority of communication is chatting - and we do this to bond. So in our chatting we learn more about each other and strengthen the bonds that tie us together. To build community we have to increase the opportunities for this. Perhaps this should be a rule for community development - allow plenty of opportunities to chat.