Written By: Krista Dunbar
True community is hard to find. It doesn’t come quite as naturally for those of us who are in the “adulting” stages of life either. So often, I hear how hard it is to make friends once the college years are gone and we’ve settled into our big person jobs.
Sometimes people don’t mesh very well. Sometimes life’s transitions, events, or stages seem to cause disbandment rather than unity.
Who said doing life together was easy?
I think the church in general has played a major role in all of this. Here’s an excerpt from Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love:
“The church certainly tries to foster community, bless it. We at least know how essential it is. So we organize Life Groups (see also: Restore Groups, Community Groups, Home Groups, Cell Groups, Youth Groups, Women’s Groups, or–kickin’ it like my Baptists–Sunday school. We try to provide structure for folks to belong, to be known. Sometimes it works like magic and other times it so doesn’t. You can lead a horse to water, but sometimes the horse is awkward and weird, you know? I’ve had small groups create friends for life and others that felt a teeny bit like sustained torture.”
Folks, I’m not going to lie to ya…I’ve been the awkward and new gal. I’ve also been the one that feels like she has to make everyone else feel like they have a good time, are valued, and welcomed.
Because I’ve been connected to some of the most impacting groups of people in my life through the church, I have a soft spot for them. Working with young adults alongside my husband has also helped in this area as well.
I believe the church is the place we can truly become a functioning body of believers, especially if everyone is functioning in their specific and unique gifts. When all is right, it feels like a true Acts 2:44 community. And it’s beautiful. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve also seen it fail miserably. In our three years of doing ministry, my husband and I have seen our fair share of both types of community. But I truly have come to believe that both are beautiful in their own way. Some communities are brought together for a specific time period or even just a specific study. Some are brought together by their ages or stages of life, and some are brought together naturally through common interests or just being around each other day after day.
Not only did sweet Jen point out how awkward or amazing these communities can be, she also pointed to a remedy:
“Instead of waiting around for church to assemble a perfect group of dynamic people who can meet on Tuesdays, maybe just invite some folks over. A shared table is the supreme expression of hospitality in every culture on earth.”
By no means am I saying we’ve got it right. By no means am I saying that our Community Group is the best community out there. But it’s community. It’s a beautiful group of totally diverse people coming together weekly to share stories, prayer requests, and laughter. It’s sometimes spot on, and sometimes we need a kick in the pants to get started. But we do it all together. We want you to do it too. Whether it’s with us or with others, find people to share life with.
I’ve been blessed to have had community where we are for quite some time. It’s been messy at times because we as people are naturally…messy. I’ve seen days where I wanted to give up because my stubborn heart didn’t want to put the work in required to love people well. But I’m so glad I didn’t.
True community is doing life together. True community is letting tears fall hard, laughter be loud, and quietness be a blessing. True community is sharing our true selves with each other, working through messiness, and even pointing out truth, especially when it’s hard.