So here's some of the incredible input and advice that others had to back up and give insight into this idea (thanks everyone that helped me organize the background of this):
-it's God's community and He's in charge.
-It doesn't matter if you're seeking community, that's awesome and you'll find it if you are. The real purpose of community is not to seek it, it's to seek others and bring them into it so “Authentic” community goes to the individual, out of love, and draws them back in. Unless God (only Him) has called them away, then “authentic” community encourages them, prays over them and sends them out with blessing, and remains available to support and strengthen them in God's call.
-A bigger point of community is not to be sought out, but to go and seek others.
The thing about community is that it’s like a living organism. Sometimes it's running full speed, adrenaline pumping and all. Other times, it's in recovery mode (pacing itself, trying to stabilize). So it expands and contracts like everything else in nature. [Beautiful picture made through wisdom]
Discipleship [as applied in community] really just depends on how God's Spirit moves people. Despite our best efforts [or motives, or intentions], God is bigger than this issue and will bring about good fruit in community.
- I am (or "we are") not really the linchpin(s)[.e. the ones holding this thing together]. Community is much larger than little ole' me [or us]. It’s not up to us to hold it together, it’s up to us to hear God and apply His voice to the conversation and climate that He is weaving.
-This "fall" is not necessarily a bad thing. We define "success" differently than Jesus did in terms of what a successful community looks like. If Jesus' community was successful (which I believe it was), then we must admit that a truly successful community is one that falls apart from time to time. It is one where every time it gets too big (or ineffective), Jesus (the Gospel) pulls a few weeds, or even uproots some of the stronger plants (to move them to a larger garden). On the outside this looks like a complete failure (accident), I know. But we couldn't have stopped it if we knew it was coming years prior to the crumbling. In fact, if we could, I'm not so sure it would even be a good thing. As we have said in our community (about dying ministries), "let the dying horse die!"
- People do community (and accountability) for the wrong reasons all the time. In fact, we as leaders often fail (depending on the week). It doesn't seem helpful to insist that everyone always have the right motives when seeking (or returning to community, or seeking accountability). It seems more helpful to talk about those reasons once they’re "in" (or back in). Again, our motives are constantly changing colors and deceiving us. Let us not judge the motives of others too harshly, but instead simply be glad for their participation / return.
-My heart goes out to community everywhere ‘cause it's a hard call. The weight of ministry and relationships is heavy and without a team to bare those burdens it's even tougher.
- Sure it'll look different, but that's ok if it does. God is going to do what He's done for thousands of years and His will is going to prevail. As hard as it is to watch it change and even fall apart, the most loving thing I can do for the community I gave everything to is to step out of God's way when He calls me out and let him work on those hearts. That doesn't mean that on a personal level I abandon them all together. I still love them, but I love them too much to continue protecting them from what God expects of them.