Building Community — what do you first think of when you hear the word community? Most people probably think of their friends, their coworkers, or possibly their church family. Some might think of their sports team, their online community, or their classmates. This idea of community looks a little differently to everyone, but regardless of the image that comes to mind, community is vital. Community is necessary for growth as a Christ follower.
In the English dictionary, community is described as “a feeling of fellowship with others.” It goes further to include, “as a result of sharing common attitudes, interest, and goals: the sense of community that organized religion can provide.”
Helen Keller once stated, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
The Big Move
I moved to Madison, WI at the end of September, 2018. When I came here, I only knew my brother and my best friend, who moved with me. I didn’t know much about this new city or about the culture here. I wondered if I would find any fun things to do. While I was terrified to figure out how I would fit in. it was something I desired. At the same time, I was anxious to find a new friend group and people that I would eventually get to call friends.
As a lifelong Christian, I knew the easiest way to find community would be finding a new church to call home. I pictured this perfectly in my head. I had this idea I would walk into a new church and instantly make great friends. In this image I thought I would be invited to hang out with others right away and instantly have my new community. Easy peasy! Right? But I had one problem: I am a huge introvert.
Additionally, I find making friends as an adult is difficult. Adult friendship does not look the same as making friends your first day of kindergarten. That reality slapped me in the face hard. Don’t get me wrong, over time I found my group of people. I have made really great connections with others, but it took time. I could not rush what God had in mind for the start of my new life.
The Big Picture
GOD CALLS US TO BE IN COMMUNITY! We can find many Scriptures in God’s Word that relates to the importance of community. We need community to grow, to be strengthened and encouraged, and to share our burdens and joys.
1 Corinthians 12:25-27, says, “So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part sufferers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (NIV).
The Apostle Paul points out in these verses the importance of coming together as Christians and building community. Each seeker, each person within the community is a part of the whole. You see, each believer has certain gifts and talents we can use where we are. Each of us, working together, using our strengths, is needed in the body of Christ For example, talking in front of a group of people is not my strongest strength. I’m better at building one-on-one connections. Another example, I have a friend who excels at giving her money to others in need, but also struggles with her finances at times.
Hebrews 10:24-25, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the day approaching” (NIV). In Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (NIV).
We are in community when we do both of these things. We not only work in our own strengths, but we build others in their weaknesses, in community.
The Big Reality
The big reality is — It’s Not About You! In a community of people, we are called to love and encourage each other despite the circumstances. This means getting uncomfortable and picking up each other’s burdens as if they were our own! When I was going through a difficult time, my community of people showed up. They never hesitated to encourage me and help me in any way. When we live in community it’s not about what’s best for you, but what’s best for the community. You share each other’s joys and griefs. In this way, we love sacrificially.
In order to build community, you need to first get involved and build relationships with people. It is extremely hard to grow closer to God when you’re not in community. We absolutely need other people in order to grow. If you’re an introvert, like me, this can be hard, but I promise it’s worth it. Luckily, I was invited to a young adults Bible study where I knew at least two other people going. I took that step of faith and showed up to the first community group. Since then, I can confidently say some of my best friends and support system has come from that group. Go out of your way to find like-minded individuals who share the same interests as you.
I challenge you this week to boldly find a group of people with whom you can build community. Find a group of people who will encourage you, uplift and love you, and readily share in your pain and joy. Become a [part of the solution — share your strengths and build up others. I found this in my young adult community group at church. It could be something different for you, but community is a must. If you can’t find a group, then boldly step out and create a community you would want to be a part of. There is so much value in being together.