The Importance of Community
“Even Jesus had a small group.” — Josh Teis
You and I are not meant to live life alone.
At a base human level every one of us long and desire to connect with another human being.
Throughout my life I have been a part of many types of communities. In high school I played different sports, and my “community” at that point was my team. In college my community changed again and became the people living in my dorm and friends that I spent the most time with. When I graduated college, I became a part of a new church in a new state and new city, and those people became my community. Now in the city of Las Vegas, I meet every Wednesday night with a small group of 5 couples, and in a very real sense they are my community. This didn’t happen overnight; it’s taken over 4 years for me to get to a place where I can confidently say, “These are my people.” Let me explain.
When my wife and I first started coming to the church we are at in Las Vegas, we immediately bonded quickly with the youth pastor. He saw that my wife and I had gifts and talents that could be used to help. Soon after joining the church, we started working in the youth group and serving…a lot. This opportunity was great and we got to create meaningful and lasting relationships with many of the youth, and our relationship with the youth pastor and his wife strengthened. About a year into serving in this capacity, my wife and I had a discussion about the friends we had and the sense of community we lacked sorely. So taking a queue from our prior church, we wanted to start sharing a meal with people. We set a goal during the new year to have a family over to our house for dinner once a week, hoping this would lead to deeper friendships and we would find our community.
6 months and 25 families later we still hadn’t found our community. We didn’t connect with people well enough to do life with them. It was sad. My wife and I started questioning ourselves. Was there something wrong with us? Were we not “cool enough” to be a part of this community? Are people in Las Vegas cold and unconnected people? Before you jump to any conclusions let me share a few lessons my wife and I learned together.
People are busy
Every family we had over to our house had at least 2 or more kids, were around our age, and had one if not both spouses that worked out of the home. This lends itself to those families not having a lot of down time. If they did have down time, they were probably tired or wanting to spend some quality time with each other.
Follow the process
Each community is different, but in our church community the process for getting to know people better is already in place, and that process is called Small Group. What is Small Group, you may ask? At it’s simplest form, Small Group exists to connect people together, encourage one another, and to grow closer to God. Your church or community might have Sunday School classes, lifestage groups, softball teams, or a whole host of other groups. Whatever it is, get into the process and start connecting with other people.
Annoyed with something? Consider leading
Have you ever found yourself extremely annoyed with the way something is being done? Whether it’s at work, church, or even in your own family, perhaps the very reason you are most annoyed by it is because God is trying to tell you to lead that thing. Humbling moment: my wife and I are picky people, we really are. What happened at first when we started attending small groups is we tried a few out. Some with great leaders who had deep Bible knowledge and were extremely personal, others that were on the opposite end of the scale. After trying a handful of groups, my wife and I were still not satisfied with the result we were getting. So guess what happened? That’s right, we started our own group and started leading it. Now I thank all the people in my Small Group that put up with the way I lead every week. At least I am no longer frustrated and I know I’m doing what God wanted me to do all along.
Somebody needs you as much as you need them
I have seen this happen time and time again in my own life. If you are lonely and hurting, I can guarantee that there is also somebody out there that is lonely and hurting just like you are. When we started connecting with the families that are in our Small Group right now, they felt the same way we did: lonely, disconnected, and wanting encouragement.
So my challenge to you is don’t play the victim and go it alone. Find a community to get into and start growing. If you can’t find a community that jives with you, create one on your own and manufacture the very thing you want to see in the world.