Community: Why We Need One And How To Build It {www.boldlytanya.com}

I introvert like a boss. I love to be alone. But I hate feeling lonely. I need options when I get an itch for occasional socialization. The choice is the difference between alone and lonely. Yes. It bugs me that I need people, but it’s the way God intended it. We’re social creatures.  While the extent of neediness varies per individual, we all require other people in our life.

For some people, family fills this need. It isn’t even obligatory. Did you know some families hang out because they like each other? This concept was entirely foreign to me until I met my husband. He comes from high functioning stock. They hug and talk about their problems. It is phenomenal to witness.

My family occupies the other end of the spectrum. We gather compulsorily, like for a funeral. Then, we barely speak to each other, probably because we don’t have anything to say. Occasionally, we text on birthdays, but most of the time, we just pretend like none of us exist. It is how we do things.

Because that is the way it’s been done my entire life, that is the way I want to continue doing it. But God has other plans.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25 NLT).

I like to think of this verse as the why. Why do we need community? Because it is God’s plan for his people. We need to come together for two big reasons: encouragement and accountability.

God desires his children to meet and encourage one another in the faith, including spurring each other to do the right things.

The flip side of that coin is accountability. When we do something wrong, what is our tendency? Do we proclaim it for the masses because we are proud of our transgressions? Of course not. We hide in shame and guilt. We shy away from connecting. We don’t want to disappoint. But avoidance can lead to a slippery slope of sin. Why bother to camouflage if no one is looking?

While I personally consider encouragement and accountability two sides of the same coin, it may be a stretch to pull that from the verse in Hebrews. So here is another.

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Gal 6:1-2).

Communities should indeed hold one another to a biblical standard but through love, and gentleness. We share in joy and hardship. We need each other.

That’s the why, in a nutshell. Surely there are more reasons, but I want to move on to the how.

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved” (Act 2:44-47)

Joy, generosity, praise, and goodwill comprise the cornerstones upon which this first community of believers was built. That is where we start.

But we also learn from the action comprising this passage. We see the believers:

  1. Meeting together in one place
  2. Sharing what they have with each other
  3. Selling property and possessions
  4. Sharing with those in need
  5. Worshiping together
  6. Meeting in homes
  7. Partaking in Communion
  8. Sharing meals
  9. Being joyous and generous
  10. Praising God
  11. Enjoying the goodwill of all the people

In short, they did life together and liked it. So much of this is done through our local churches. Start there. Begin engaging. Church provides a segue to sharing, worship, fellowship, and communion. After that, things get more personal. We have to instigate.

Building community takes effort, and I am not particularly fond of hard work. It’s easy to sit on my laurels waiting for someone to come to me, to invite me, to encourage me, or share with me. Being the initiator is difficult. It’s putting you out there in the face of possible rejection. But waiting for the right people to come to me didn’t work. It left me lonely and dissatisfied. I had to engage.

Were there false starts and failed efforts? Of course! Nothing is perfect, and sometimes people grow apart, or never click in the first place. Sometimes it takes a lot of searching to find what you are looking for. But when you do, it is priceless.

God gave us the road map to community building; we just have to follow it.

This Christmas, I want to challenge you to look for a way to multiply your community. If you don’t have one, let’s start building. Do you know of a person or family with nowhere to go? Invite them to Christmas dinner. Maybe you are spending the day alone. Can you think of someone in the same situation you can share the day with? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or even well planned. Maybe you eat ramen and watch A Christmas Story on repeat all day. That’s a start! Who knows what God will grow from that?

I would love to hear your ideas for building up community during the holidays. Please share them in the comments below.