What is community? I have asked myself this a lot lately. The definition of community is 1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common; 2) a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. This can be difficult to find, community with a group of people outside of the physical dwelling place.
Church is a great place to find community. We even changed the name of Sunday School to be Community Groups. I once had someone tell me you find your group within the community group. That statement always challenged me. I felt that it was a cliché mentality, an exclusion mindset. It also led to a lot of “trying to fit in” on my part. Which I failed at epically.
So, community, how? Where? And When? I still think church. I also still feel that a good community group will be inclusive to all. However, finding the how, where & when can be challenging. Planning events takes a lot of effort. It can be challenging to find something everyone will want to participate in. Axe throwing it not everyone’s choice of activities. However, it is not about the actual throwing of axes (which is fun and very stress-relieving). It is about community; it is about being with a group you want to be with and discovering something new about them and about yourself.
Gardening is not my thing. However, if you to go to the gardens and walk around looking at the plants, then let’s do it. I can find something enjoyable in the garden. You might learn that I love bird watching. I might learn how to control black-spots on the roses from you. Painting ceramics is not everyone’s idea of fun. I have spent more money on this activity than I care to admit. The first time I painted something, I thought this is horrible. But I was invited to paint again. Over time I discovered I like doing it, not good at it, but I enjoy the creative process. It is also the company I keep while doing it.
Community is about establishing a bond with a group of people. Learning about each other over coffee, over an easel, over axes. It is about discovering you have something in common with one another. It is about finding your people, encouraging one another, supporting one another, and loving them. (There are things that destroy community, but let's focus on building one before we destroy it.)
Christ had community with his disciples. Think about it. His family knew him, but did not really support him until later. Luke 4:14-30, especially verse 24 “Truly, I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” In Mark 3:31-35 (also in Matthew & Luke) Jesus says when his family are standing waiting to see him, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Do you see it? Jesus was claiming his community. I am sure his family felt hurt by his words, probably because they did not understand them. I read these verses years ago and thought how horrible. Then the spirit revealed to me the meaning of this. He was not shunning his family; he was establishing who his community was then and in the future.
How do you develop community? By spending time together. If Christ is our foundation, it is a strong foundation to build upon. What bricks do you bring to the community? My bricks are anything creative, shopping, eating, and sometimes axes. I have a friend whose bricks are slightly different. But we do things together, sometimes from her brick pile (like the movies) and sometimes from both of our piles (painting ceramics) and then also from my brick pile (shopping). This is friendship, this is a very small community. How can we take it a step further and build a larger community? The only way is by inviting others to join us and those people to actual come. So, gather your bricks when the opportunity comes and bring them with you...Who knows you might find you like someone else’s brick better than you thought.