Create the Community You Crave
Community. It's a word we throw around a lot these days, especially within Christian circles. I'm sure you've come across a sermon, podcast or Facebook post talking about building community within the church, or being part of a community of believers, but what does that really mean?
Community is defined as: "A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.
What it comes down to is a sense of belonging. We crave to belong somewhere, to know who our people are. We want to feel connected, involved, wanted.
But what if you don't have community? Maybe you walk into church or your campus ministry and you look around at all these different groups of people who seem like they belong- you know, the ones that sit in the same section each week and are never without someone to talk to- and you sit there alone wondering where you fit in. What now?
I've been there. My husband and I got married right after graduating college. We moved to the big city and were missing our tight-knit group of friends we'd been surrounded by for the past four years. So we did what we were told-we found a church and got plugged in. We attended a young marrieds Sunday school class and joined Bible Studies, and week after week I sat there looking around at all these women who seemed to be friends and I felt like I didn't belong. The problem was that while we had joined these groups, we hadn't initiated relationships. As the new girl in town I kept sitting there waiting for someone to approach me, to pursue me, to invite me in and it never happened, at least not the way I wanted it to.
Did you see what the problem was? Me, me, me. I was so focused on what I expected others to do for me, that I didn't take responsibility for my part of the relationship. I could just have easily asked one of the women to grab coffee sometime, but I kept waiting for them to initiate it and I missed out because of it.
When we moved back home our best friends wanted a way to connect with other young married couples at church, but instead of lamenting their lack of community they started a Sunday School class. And people came! Because they were craving that community too.
In college, I distinctly remember the first time one of my future roomies (and now best friends) opened up and confessed something she was struggling with. By initiating a deeper conversation and letting us in, she created an atmosphere of trust and honesty that continues to this day. I'm convinced it's why we're such good friends.
Are you craving community? I guarantee there are others around you who are craving the same thing, so why not be the one to lead the way? To my fellow introverts out there I know those words may sound absolutely terrifying, but I also know the result is so worth it!
Go talk to that girl you've always wanted to get to know, grab some friends or co-workers or just mere acquaintances and try that new restaurant, order a pizza and invite the neighbors over for dinner. Start a book club, or supper club, or just ask someone on a walk- whatever it may be that interests you.
I'm not saying it will be easy. In fact, being vulnerable and open and initiating relationships is really hard. People will turn you down- and let you down. It might take years to find your tribe. Maybe you've been trying and it just hasn't happened yet. Keep trying. You never know what may come of your willingness to start a conversation.
Need some help getting started? IF:Table has some wonderful resources to help you out. I've recently participated in this, and I can tell you there is no better way to build community than breaking bread together and asking hard questions. It requires vulnerability, but I have found that my most meaningful friendships were formed during my most vulnerable times.
Create the community you crave.