“The reality is, we need community in order to follow Christ radically…If we are going to live in radical obedience to Christ, we will need the church to do it. We will need to show one another how to give liberally, go urgently, and live dangerously. When we sacrifice our resources for the poor and then face unexpected and unforeseen needs in our own lives, we will need brothers and sisters to help us stand. In the process we will learn to depend on one another according to God’s design. The global purpose of Christ was never intended to be accomplished by individuals. We are a global people whose family spans the nations. So first and foremost, I encourage you to be done with church hopping and shopping in a me-centered milieu and to commit your life to a people who need you and whom you need.”
~David Platt, Radical
I read this yesterday, just a few short hours after hearing my pastor preach a knock-it-out-of-the-park sermon on the same subject. Don’t you LOVE when God speaks in themes? It’s hard to wonder what God is saying when He says the exact same thing repeatedly from a number of sources. I always appreciate this, cuz I tend to be somewhat slow.
After hearing it preached, but before reading it in my book, my husband and kids joined another family for lunch. You know…for community-building purposes. While our children terrorized the other nice people at the restaurant trying to quietly enjoy their Sunday afternoon lunches, the adults at the table discussed how we could practically apply this message of building community to our busy lives.
After all, community-building takes time. It’s impossible for me to meet your need—whether it be for prayer or finances or encouragement or friendship—if I do not spend time with you and give you opportunity to express your need. We can’t really accomplish community-life while sitting in a Sunday morning church service. We can’t accomplish it while ushering little ones to the restroom in the middle of service. And we can’t accomplish it while dragging screaming kids out of the church foyer and into the parking lot. Is it just me, or is this a universal church experience?
Community only happens when we take the time to BE with other people, and not simply pass and greet them on our way to the next place.
So, in our exactly 10 minutes of uninterrupted adult conversation time (yes, I counted), my friend Angela and I lamented over the isolation inherent to stay-at-home mothering, and decided that it was high time we reunited our now-disbanded bible study group.
See, a few years ago, I taught a Wednesday night class at church which morphed into a Tuesday morning study in my home. I’ve been a part of a lot of bible studies in my day, but something about this group was highly cohesive and effective. I’m not sure why or how, but the combination of women in this small group just clicked. It was “community” in every sense of the word.
Well, then I had to go screw everything up and adopt a baby, which led me to break up the group temporarily. And then, I got this nasty case of major depressive disorder, which pretty much knocked me out of commission for a full year. And then, much to my dismay, schedules changed and there was no longer a day that worked for everyone to meet. To top it all off, recently two of our ladies moved far, far away..which seriously breaks my heart, because I know now we will never be a fully-intact bible study group, ever again.
But, yesterday, Angela and I decided enough was enough. In the spirit of community, we would reunite what was left of our group, starting with the two of us. We mentally scoured our schedules looking for a mutually agreeable meeting time:
Mondays and Wednesdays don’t work for her.
Tuesdays and Fridays don’t work for me.
Thursdays don’t work for either of us.
Weekends are for family time.
Okay then! It was great having lunch with you, Angela!
And off we went with our little children and husbands into separate cars.
This is the reality of my life. It isn’t that I don’t absolutely believe in the power and purpose of community. I know I need something only you can offer me. And believe it or not, I have something to offer you, too. But translating my passion for community into my daily schedule and ALSO into YOUR daily schedule is downright difficult. It’s a combination of our seasons of life and the busyness that plagues our society.
So, I’m curious. What do you think about building community? Do you value it? Do you pursue it? How do you put it into practice? How do you make it work in your life? Let’s chat!