Have you ever walked into your church foyer, seeing it swarming with people, and yet felt alone? Or perhaps attended a women’s event, had people smile and say, “Hello!” or even, “Cute dress!” yet felt invisible, sure that no one really saw you? In this world of constant connectivity, why do we find it so hard to feel like we’re part of a community? Because living An Unexplainable Life requires community- it just won’t happen without it.
Most people crave community. Where I live in Arizona, master-planned communities are thriving. Folks want to move into a neighborhood that provides venues to connect. Yet our churches often struggle with this. We want people to connect, but we don’t know how to do it. Let’s face it- most of us aren’t going to meet our new BFF filing in and out of a pew on Sunday morning. The connection has to go deeper to be meaningful. So how does it happen?
In the book of Acts, we read that the church met together daily for the breaking of bread, fellowship, teaching and prayer. Daily. It doesn’t specify if the entire church gathered in one place or if multiple gatherings occurred, but it does quantify how often: every single day. And when they gathered, the walls shook, miracles happened, and many came to Christ. Community requires intentional investment of our time into building relationships.
I’ve noticed a phenomenon in churches lately that I call the “drive-thru” mentality. You know, we go to one drive-thru when we want a taco, then another one around the corner for a burger. If we want a really good milkshake, we’ll find a third drive-thru somewhere around town. We take the same approach with our church participation. I go here on Sunday morning because the pastor’s message rocks, but I go somewhere else for Bible study, and I take my kids to the mega church five miles away for youth group. There’s something on the menu for everyone, yet true community with no one.
I do get it. Sometimes you love your church family, but they don’t currently offer a program or ministry you find important, so you seek that out elsewhere. I’m not talking about that situation. I’m talking about when we’re not committed to any faith family. It’s like we’re the long lost uncle on Christmas Eve who slides in the door at the last minute- and then we wonder why we feel isolated. My kids complain they’re not connecting with anyone at youth group. The ladies at Bible study feel cliquish. The pastor stops enthralling me. So I stop going. I’m not growing spiritually and no one cares because no one is invested in me. And if I’m really honest, I’ve never invested in others. I just came to get something, not to truly give.
Take The First Step…..
We’re a “have it your way” culture. We don’t want to settle. We want it all. But we end up with nothing; well, nothing that we really want anyway, which is, you guessed it, community. We crave people who know us and care. People who miss us when we’re not there. People who are invested enough in our lives that when we walk in the room, it’s not awkward to start a conversation with them. Community. Wouldn’t it be pretty unexplainable to meet somebody who actually took the effort to get to know you? Someone who invited you out to lunch after church or over for a BBQ? Start by being that unexplainable person yourself.
Nobody’s perfect- and neither is church. If we want community, we’re going to have to give up something. The worship may be a little loud, one of the pastors may not use our favorite preaching style, or we may not like having to switch tables at Bible study or choose the same curriculum in our small group. And there may be that one person in our Sunday school class who totally rubs us the wrong way. But we’ll be invested. We’ll make connections. Opportunities will occur for us to meet other people and begin to share our lives. We’ll feel a part of something bigger than ourselves- a messy, sometimes complicated, glorious community where people care and when you walk into the room, they see you. The real you.
It takes time. Sometimes a long time. And sometimes it gets really tiring trying (I can hear all of the “amens” out there!). But since it’s God’s design for His church, we know He is for us! Do you want to be in community? It starts with you truly choosing to be in one. It may require stepping out of your comfort zone. And it definitely requires patience. But it’s worth it. So keep trying- being in community with others is what leads to an unexplainable life!
Would you say you experience community within your church?
If not, what could you do differently to provide opportunity to begin to build it?
If you do have community, what has helped make that happen for you? How has it helped you grow?
For more information on An Unexplainable Life: Recovering the Wonder & Devotion of the Early Church click here