“A person who is lonely should dig into a community, give himself to a community, humble himself before his friends, initiate community, teach people to care for each other and love each other.” – Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Community is a word that gets tossed around a lot in church circles today, it seems to me. We are called to “live in community,” and “do life together.” Forestview has co-opted the word community to describe our small groups: Covenant Communities. But what does that all mean, and what does it look like? Why is community so important anyway?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that community isn’t going to come looking for you. How likely is it that you’re going to get called, emailed, texted, or Facebook-invited by someone who is part of an amazing community and wants you to come join? While God can work like that, more often than not in my own life anyway, I’ve seen that when I’m willing to take action and make the first step, God will provide if I trust Him and follow His lead.
All through high school, university, and even the few years that followed, I was involved in churches and Christian groups. There were some times when I took a more active role than others, but often, particularly during university, I chose to be involved only at the fringes. As a result, I felt lonely, isolated, and like I didn’t really belong.
So when I moved and started attending Forestview, I was intentional about seeking community like never before. Although I didn’t officially move until August, I began attending the running group sporadically back in April. Aside from the Stone family (who I know from back in the day in Simcoe, my hometown), those were my first real connections at Forestview.
In the fall, when it came time to sign up for a Covcom (which, if you ask me is sort of a “must-do” when seeking to build up your community), I headed right for the Springle Covcom, which, as it turns out, is chock full of running group members (and lots of great non-runners too).
I can’t even begin to sum up just how much I love my Covenant Community and everyone who is a part of it. Sunday night has become a highlight of my week. We alternately have really deep, meaningful, honest discussions and laugh hysterically and get totally off topic (often multiple times in the same night). But it’s also a place where we can be totally real, raw and honest. In the lives of our group right now, some of us are going through mountaintop experiences, some are in deep valleys, some in between, but we can share it all, and know that we are loved, accepted, supported and prayed for.
As one of the newer members of the group, it would be easy to be made to feel like an outsider, but I can happily say that has been anything from the case. If I’m feeling down or need prayer, I know that my Covcom friends are only a text or email away. When my mom had a broken ankle and I needed someone to help me drive her home (an hour away), it was one of my Covcom friends who came through. If you’re not part of a Covenant Community yet, what are you waiting for?
On top of Covcom, I started volunteering at Next Door Space at the end of the summer, as well as playing my cello on worship team and helping in Kidsview. There’s something humbling about being a part of something much bigger than myself, working with others to further God’s kingdom. As an added benefit, for someone new to the church, getting involved in ministry gives you instant connecting points with people you might not otherwise have the chance to talk to.
Forestview also fosters a great sense of community through the coffee break between services. If you can, I encourage you to stay late/come early. It’s a great chance to catch up with friends, or make connections with new faces.
It’s not all sunshine, and seeking community is not always easy. I realized after reading this post over that I might sound like a natural extrovert, always seeking new people and situations to throw myself into. Ha – I sure had you fooled! This only serves as proof that once you step out of your comfort zone, follow God’s lead and put yourself in new situations, He will bless you in ways you could have never dreamed of while sitting at home on the couch (which is still one of my favourite pastimes, by the way).
Community: it’s more than a Christian buzzword or a really hilarious TV show (that’s a whole other blog post). It’s how God calls us to live. If you’re feeling it’s lacking in your life; pray, seek God’s direction, then get off the couch and do something about it.