How can we do better if we all struggle to find and keep it? I could tell you Sign up Here, join ____ group etc., but instead, I’d argue that community is forged and fought for over time, not found. Community is intentionally created. So, how do we do that? Here are 5 Ways to Find Community in Church:
1. Be in proximity and be intentional.
Let’s take the best example we could ever find on how to live – Jesus. Jesus spent a lot of time in close proximity to his disciples, his community. He didn’t just teach them; he shared meals with them and travelled with them. He lived life with them. Having community means being near people, being consistent, and being intentional. It isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it!
Start by evaluating your surroundings. Who is already within close proximity? Who has God intentionally placed in your life?
Then, do it again and again. The key to proximity is to be intentional in inviting others to be a part of your everyday life and be in theirs. It isn’t planning big events or things weeks down the road, though that is good too, but including people in your everyday life.
2. Initiate and get outside your comfort zone.
Making friends is awkward. Full stop.
We were never “taught” how to make friends, and we often want to leave it up to someone else to initiate. Avoiding awkward and uncomfortable moments and hiding behind a screen is much easier.
This one will take a lot of practice and patience but start by needing others and allowing others to meet your needs. This concept was given in Find Your People by Jennie Allen and contradicts our independent North American culture.
As Jennie shares, 80% of the people in the world live in villages, and these are places where loneliness is not the epidemic it is in North America. Why? They need each other. Do you need help with something? Ask your neighbour. Not Amazon, not Uber, not Googling and hiring a handyman. Next time you need something, stop and ask someone you know to help and just wait to see what will come out of that. It will be a blessing to both of you.
3. Be stubbornly committed and be prepared to be let down.
There is no way to sugar-coat it, other people bring out the best and worst in us, and because we are broken people, we will hurt and be hurt by others. But more importantly, it is also through relationships that we can experience healing. Culture has, unfortunately, taught us that if someone is no longer serving you or no longer makes you happy, ditch them. Ending a relationship because someone no longer serves the purpose you expect of them must break God’s heart! We should be stubbornly committed and push past conflict and hard seasons. To find community is not to idolize or glamorize it but to take all of it, the good, bad, and the ugly. When things get uncomfortable or don’t fit within your plan, resist the urge to move on and give up. Press through it and ask the Lord what his plan is for the relationship.
4. Tell God about it.
This may sound a bit too simple, but I’d argue it is one of the best things to do.
Ask God to bring specific people into your life.
If you’re looking for older mentor-like figures in your life, tell God. Ask him to bring someone into your life that meets that need. And then be open to what he does. You may be surprised. We have a God who cares and knows what and who you need in your life!
“But, for a “Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
– CS Lewis.
I’d challenge you to stop right now and ask God to put two names in your mind of who he would like you to seek a deeper relationship with. Once he’s answered, text or call them.
5. Embrace the process, accept the awkwardness, and give it time.
I think one of the reasons we often can’t find the community we crave is because we give up too soon. Community is forged. It’s more of a slow burn than a spark that comes and goes quickly. We all want those deep, rich relationships, “lifers” as some might call them. But, we often don’t realize that before that relationship was formed there were months and years of pressing through difficulties, A LOT of initiating on BOTH sides.
Join a Community Group or volunteer consistently. Give it a few months before even deciding if it’s right. Take ownership and don’t expect it to happen naturally, but be for others what you hope they can be for you. Accept the magical moments with the messy ones, the mountaintop seasons and valleys.
Someone once said, “you don’t drift towards Jesus”. The same is true for community. You don’t just drift towards it. It’s going to take blood, sweat, and probably some tears. But we need it. Don’t let anyone or anything tell you otherwise. Forge it, fight for it. In a world aggressively pushing us away from community, living in community is a beautiful act of worship to our God who created us in love and for love. Having deep Jesus-centered relationships that point you closer to Jesus is something that, yes, comes with its own challenges, but let me tell you, it’s worth it!