This was, and remains a challenge - and rightly so. Living closely and faithfully over the long term with a miscellaneous group of people whom one hasn't chosen can only work if there's a mutual commitment to growth and transformation. It won't work unless communication is maintained, forgiveness readily exchanged, and others loved and respected despite their different attitudes and priorities. Over time - perhaps over a lifetime - rough edges are smoothed, understanding grows, and relationships deepen. The stability of the monastic community and the way in which it transforms people are gifts of hope to offer to the world.
The parish church, rooted in its community, is also called to be a place of stability. We don't choose other members of the congregation - they may or may not be people like us. It's not an interest group which we join or leave on a whim. Its stability is of the monastic kind: 'the sort of community that changes me', as Ben Quash puts it. Its presence in the community for the long haul, and its gathering-in (ideally) of people from across the spectra of age and background give it the potential to transform us, even if that work takes a lifetime. It may be only one expression of the Kingdom of God among many, but it's our expression, and our calling is to develop it.
It's fashionable nowadays for people to choose a church which suits them, and of course that's easy to understand. The danger is that it becomes a church for the like-minded, and no longer a place in which growth is demanded of us. But as Ben Quash reminds us, a stable, diverse community is an anticipation of the Kingdom - and the Kingdom is not homogenous.
Clearly there are challenges in a mobile society. It isn't practical for many of us to commit to living in one place throughout our lives - and even if we do, many of the people around us will change. However, we can examine whether we're consumers or participants when it comes to the life of the church - and seek community with others however different from ourselves they may be.