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January 19, 2007

What is community? How is it formed? What is our responsibility in community? What can we do to help form this with others?

This topic has been on my heart a lot lately. I think part of the reason why is that I recently finished reading Building a Church of Small Groups by Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson. I am part of a smaller church that is a little over a year old. Overall the people are fairly well connected, and one of the beliefs/values of the church is community. It is the heart of where we want to go as a church, but I hear others say we are community and I think we have achieved that yet. What I have come to realize is that it depends on each person’s perspective, and some people are at a place to go deeper and connect more fully. There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes those who are willing to go deeper can feel disappointed in relationships that aren’t at that same level. I have experienced that at times.

Rather than feeling disappointed and frustrated about that, I am trying to change my thinking and determine ways that I can first change my perspective, and second be a positive influence to help move things deeper in the relationships around me.

This week someone from our church shared online that they have been struggling in their faith. Several people responded back that this person was supported and wasn’t alone, but I was left to wonder if anyone picked up a phone, went to their house, talked to them at church, or reached out in some personal way. I don’t want to just tell people I care, but I also want to combine that with actions to demonstrate it. Rather than wondering, I contacted the person who had shared and have offered to spend time with them to share the questions and struggles together so they aren’t alone. Yesterday I also learned about the death of a church member’s parent in another state. A prayer request was sent out to a few people, but I wonder if anyone did anything tangible. Has anyone contacted the rest of the family that is staying here to see if they need added support? There are several children in the family, do they need anything? Have they ever experienced death before? Again, rather than leaving it up to someone else I am going to try to reach the family today and offer my support.

In doing this I take a risk though because it means it might cost me time, energy, emotional energy, etc. Maybe that is why others hold back. I guess this is more of me learning to give my life away. My pastors teach that we should be the hands and feet of Jesus. It has taught me to ask: What can I do today to be the hands and feet of Jesus? How can I show others I care? What needs am I overlooking? What needs might go unmet if I don’t reach out? What can I do to make this a richer community where people are cared for, supported, and loved?

Did you think about any unmet needs while you read this? Did you think of anyone who might be isolated, alone, burdened, struggling? If so, maybe there is some way you should be showing community to someone in your life.

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