“This shouldn’t be that difficult,” I blubbered to my husband. We were newly married and DESPERATE to find a church home. We had visited several different churches in our area, trying to fit in anywhere and it was awful. Really awful. No one would talk to us. We attended different classes and we got the cold shoulder. We sat in worship service and sometimes no one would even sit by us. NO ONE.
It’s bad enough to sit by someone who won’t talk to you, but to sit alone in a pew is even worse. Sitting alone in a pew is like being naked in church, because you feel like you are putting yourself out there, only to be left in the cold. (Disclaimer: It isn’t ALL about going where everybody knows your name. But when at least one person introduces themselves to you, it lets you know that someone noticed you!)
We wanted to find a church that had a great community and a strong mission, where we could serve and be around people who were passionate about God and about helping their community thrive. I’m a big definition nerd, so I want to share a couple of definitions of community from Google. The short definition of community is “a group of people who live in the same place”….cool. People live near each other and that’s all it takes. BUT–real community is so much deeper than just being in close proximity to each other. Here is my favorite definition of community: “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the second definition is way better than the first one. It goes way beyond just being around one another.
So, why is community important? I thought of a few reasons:
Community Helps the Church Grow
When I say “grow,” I don’t just mean in numbers (although that could stem from this idea). I mean spiritually. With closer relationships come more opportunities to help each other grow! One of my favorite verses in the bible is from Proverbs 27:17. It talks about how we affect change in each other. It says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Just like this verse says, it is important to help each other become better people. Strive to sharpen others.
Community Gets Work Done
The power of people working together is amazing. When a community comes together to support something like a food pantry or a Vacation Bible School, big things can happen in God’s name. If one person is trying to do something alone, they may be able to get a lot done, but may not reach as many people or have nearly as much effect. When we work with others it is truly great for the Kingdom.
Community is Involved in the Community
Not only is community involved in helping others grow spiritually and getting work done, BUT it is also important to be involved outside of the church. I know. Who has time for that? We have to pick either church or what’s on the outside, because we’re so busy. It doesn’t have to be a chore or take a lot of time out of your schedule. It can be as simple as picking up some cookies at the store for a function or volunteering at the library to read to some kiddos.
When you work as a community to reach others, people will feel more welcome and inclined to see what you are about. When we love people together, our love becomes infectious.
I want to challenge you to look for opportunities in your church to help build your community and get to know it better.
And when the time comes, look for ways to add people to your community and show them that love. Don’t let someone sit alone in a pew.