Building Community is part of an ongoing series, Mrs. Disciple 101.
The disciples formed the original small group. They walked with Jesus, learning His ways and His words. They ate together, ministered together, and supported one another through thick and thin. They argued about who was greatest, fished from the same boat, and hid in the upper room together after Jesus’ death. All the makings of a good small group!
When it was time to go out to the nations, Jesus sent them out in community groups.
And he called his twelve disciples together and send them out two by two, with authority to cast out evil spirits. Mark 6:7
The first church invented life groups.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Acts 2:44, 46
John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” This sentiment hold true in the modern-day disciples’ life. We are a piece of a great community of believers with a singular purpose–to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
What stands in the way of building community?
Time. The importance of community is easily lost in our fast-paced lives. We are working longer hours. Our kids are involved in more extra curricular activities. How can we find time to build community with others when we barely have time for our own family?
Distractions. We are a multi-tasking society. Because our time feels limited, we feel we must do no fewer than two things at once. This leaves us tired and distracted. Furthermore, our quiet spaces are filled with electronic distractions that simulate connections.
Illusions. We are under the illusion that we are connected to a community through social media. We exchange picture-perfect updates and funny moments and receive a thumbs up in return. We also get to craft a picture of who we want to be by the kind of information we share.
Protection. Because of the illusions we create on the exterior, we struggle to protect that image by keeping everyone at arms’ length. What if they knew about my debt, my addictions, my quirks? The real picture of my family with fussing children, bitter spouses, and dirty laundry is not like the photo-shopped armor we show everyone. There is a fear of rejection within our walls of protection.
How do we build community?
Time. Although we feel stretched in every direction, there is no substitution for time spent with others. If we are convinced of the importance of community in the life of the disciple, we will take the time to make it happen. Once you make that initial investment, it becomes easier because the rewards are so great.
Authenticity. Vulnerability invites intimacy. If we continue to present a picture-perfect exterior, true community will elude us. By opening up to the real struggles, the real frustrations, and our real emotions, we develop mutual trust within our group. This, in turn, leads to authentic, reciprocal relationships.
Serve. The early church made sure that no one within their group had an unmet need (Acts 2:45, 4:32-35). Needs come in all shapes and sizes. Taking a meal to a new mom, sending a note of encouragement to a struggling friend, and inviting a family over for dinner are just a few ways to serve those in your community. Each disciple is a minister of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Are you connected to a community of believers? What stands in your way? Commit to taking the first steps toward building community today.