Building intentional community is integral to growing our faith
Taking time to connect with people can have a profound impact on us.
Whether it’s a deep conversation with someone, watching the game with the guys, or serving together with others, being in community helps us grow in our faith.
So what is community?
Community from a Christian perspective involves meeting with other believers in a variety of ways with the ultimate purpose of furthering God’s Kingdom. Think of the 12 disciples. Paul and Silas. Paul and Barnabas. The early Church. These biblical examples of community illustrate the need to meet regularly to be encouraged by Christ in our faith.
As singles we need to be intentional about community because community is not likely to happen on its own. Without a spouse and, depending on the nature of the singleness, possibly without children as well, there may not be people within arm’s reach with whom to build community. With the busyness of life and the challenges of finding the right group, the temptation can be to leave community out.
But the writer of Hebrews encourages us: “Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near,” (Hebrews 10:25).
In Acts 2:42 we read about the importance of building community around a body of believers to whom we are accountable: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
In addition to building community around a home church, it also helps to build community around siblings, parents, nieces, nephews and specific interests like men’s groups, Bible Study groups, and outreach groups in social, worship and outreach settings.
The point of community is to avoid being a Lone Ranger Christian. As much of a challenge as it may be to find a group, the benefits for everyone involved far outweigh the time commitments.
We all need people to speak into our lives. In Proverbs 27:7 it says: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Where would we be without friends? Countless times I have had friends provide wisdom and encouragement. They see things I don’t see. They have perspectives I don’t have.
We all need teammates.
I was watching a hockey practice and it reminded me how a player can practice by themselves as much as they want, but they won’t reach game level skills unless they have regular time with the team.
Hockey players need their teammates, and their teammates need them.
In the same way, we need community to develop in our walk with Christ.
The greatest aspect of community is that it lets us share and receive the love of Jesus Christ. When a friend has good news we can share the love of Christ by rejoicing with him, the way Jesus celebrated at the wedding of Cana. When a friend is going through a challenging circumstance we can be there to bear his burdens.
What if God is calling you to be that listening ear for someone who is struggling with an illness, or for the person who is having a tough time picking up the pieces after life didn’t go the way they expected?
On the other hand, what if God wants to show you His love through another person, someone who will take an interest in your gifts and abilities and provide insight into your life?
God wants to use community to speak to us. Have you ever been in church and felt like the sermon was custom-designed just for you? Have you ever heard a song and thought for sure that was exactly what you needed in that moment? Or had a friend give you a timely word?
That’s God working through community.
In community we give. We receive. We serve.
In community we become who we were designed to be.