I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, community is everywhere, like everywhere. All of us belong to something. Schools, workplaces, families, housing estates, sports groups, even social media is a community.
Community is this idea that people with something in common will be together, whether that’s geographical, a common interest, or set of beliefs. People together is a community.
It seems that in every sphere of life, even people that have no notion of God or church, still have this longing to be part of something. This inbuilt desire would indicate, to me anyway, that God never ever designed us to be on our own.
In Genesis we see that God creates man and says “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Gen 2:18)
Even Paul in his letters assumes that we would be part of a community. Time and time again he writes “WHEN you meet..” or “WHEN you come together…”
If God at the very beginning of mankind’s existence states that community is important, and in the New Testament it’s assumed that we will be together, then it’s safe to assume that community is important.
So if we know that people are longing to be part of a community, then surely it is our job as the Church to do what we can to create a community that people want to be part of, a community in which people feel loved and accepted, a community in which people can experience the love and the transforming power of God?
Good community doesn’t just happen however. It is not always just the job of the leaders. It has to be intentional, and everyone has to play their part. I have to work hard at it. I have to invest my time, efforts and emotions into it.
In light of that I have just a couple of pointers on how we can all help to encourage good community.
- I speak well of it.
Why would anyone want to become a part of community, if the people who are already part of it don’t speak highly of it? One of the greatest advertisements for this community is how we speak of it. Speak well of the church and people will want to be part of it.
2. If it’s missing, I put it in.
It’s fairly self explanatory, if there’s something we feel is missing in community, we make sure that we’re putting it in. The Bible outlines this principle that we will reap what we sow. So instead of complaining that people aren’t friendly, I make sure I’m friendly. Instead of complaining that I don’t get listened to, I make sure I am listening to people. Instead of complaining that I don’t feel loved or accepted, I make sure that the people around me are feeling loved and accepted. We don’t just sit waiting and wishing for change, we are intentional, we BE the change.
Is it possible that the reason you have noticed the problem is because God is asking you to do something (other than complaining) about it?
3. I esteem others as better than me.
Philippians 2:3+4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
If everyone is caring for each other more than themselves, we would be so much better off. If I only ever look out for me, then I will only ever have one person looking out for me. But instead if everyone is looking out for everyone else, then I will always have more than one person looking out for me. Makes sense.
Ultimately, good community is what God intended for us. So much so that when it happens, He blesses it. He can’t help Himself.
Psalms 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”..verse three goes on to say, “For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”
It seems that where there is unity, God blesses. We can’t have community without unity.
If we really grasp this, it changes the dynamic of what we do. It changes how we interact with people. Instead of inviting people to meetings or events, we can bring them in on a community. Instead of bombarding them with stuff they don’t want, we can help them feel like they belong to a group that loves them, and cares for them. Everybody is looking for that.