A local church is supposed to be a community. It sounds great, but there is a catch. Community requires a measure of vulnerability, and becoming vulnerable can get you hurt. Believe me, I know. So what should you do?
First, don’t do what you shouldn’t do.
Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? My meaning is don’t gird up your armor, don your mask and hide behind the pleasantries and false smiles of religion or social grace. The simple truth is that we NEED connection and belonging. We can’t NOT have it. So all the while that we are protecting ourselves, we are reaching for it at the same time. Talk about frustrating!!! We want what we need, but we are afraid we just might get it! Weird! I completely understand.
I believe this is the reason for the explosion of mega conferences, concerts, and “Christian Idols” among believers today. We are afraid of real community, because we really don’t believe we are worthy to be known, so we hide in our real community, and then travel far and wide to find some experience among 1000’s of strangers who can never really know us. When we do this, it seems as though we have reached a “spiritual” experience, but we have avoided the cost of real community, being truly known. It seems right, especially in a world gone crazy, but it ends in discouragement, loneliness, and insecurity.
(Point of Clarification – I am not slamming conferences, nor am I judging anyone who attends them. I enjoy several myself. I am merely pointing out a flawed basis for their current success. God meant for His people to be known in a local community. He meant for those local communities to have their own teachers, pastors, and encouragers. I do however, take issue with the modern rise of the “Super Teachers, Preachers, or Apostles” just as Paul did in his Corinthian letters.)
Second, Press in.
You have a need for a faith community, so start looking for one. Or, get some help to call out your own tribe into a faith journey. Don’t wait for a faith community to find you. Press into your need for community because –
We all need to be CONNECTED. We can make friends and be present in social situations that allow for spiritual conversations. The spiritual aspect of connection is my primary concern. We often “hang out” but don’t really talk about anything that matters. We need the opportunity for GOD to show up in our interaction.
We can join the CONVERSATION. So many sit on the sidelines, with honest questions, watching and listening to others talk about their faith struggles and victories. Jump in, ask the question, take the plunge. I know it is terrifying, but most of the time, you will be immediately embraced. And, on that rare occasion where another person might be inconsiderate, don’t get hurt. Be honest, and stand up for yourself. Remember, a person who disrespects an honest question has big problems and needs patience and prayer too.
We also need to CONTRIBUTE. No one likes to be the “needy” person. We all like to “pay our own way” in life and a small group is no different. So how can you contribute? For some, it will begin with entering the conversation, but it will grow. Contribution might be helping with hospitality or hosting. It might also be seriously taking time to pray for someone in your community. It might be serving or helping someone in need. The point is that we help each other, we invest in each other and we all grow because of it.
And lastly–We were made to CONQUER! When we meet Jesus we all come with our wounds and broken places. We need to be healed. We need to be saved. Processing God’s words and God’s GIANT ideas will stir up some REAL things in our hearts. That probably sounds uncomfortable, but realize when God brings something to light He intends to heal it, remove it, or to help us comprehend it. Regardless, He is our healer and Jesus can fix us!!! When we do this journey with others who will pray for us, invest in us, and look out for us, they add to our arsenal. They help us win our own war, and the battle for those we love.
My greatest joy is to see YOU win! I know it may sound a little risky, but you can do this. It’s not that you CAN belong, it’s that you DO Belong!!!