“I just want to find a church home; I’m exhausted,” I told my friend via Voxer on a tired Monday morning. My husband and I are in the difficult transition of searching for a new church. We long for the community that only comes from being part of a local church, but God hasn’t made it clear where he wants us to put down roots yet. We’re locked in a season of waiting—of longing.
You may not be in-between churches, but maybe you still find yourself longing for community with other believers. Church planters wait upon the Lord to build the community that will cause their church to thrive. A single woman longs to be connected to a church, yet struggles to find a place where her unique gifts are valued. An elderly couple longs to worship with the people of God, but their health makes it difficult to make it to church each week. For some, they’ve been attending the same church for years and still feel disconnected from the body.
As I’ve thought through my own longing for community, I’m reminded of a few truths that I hope will encourage others in their own longing.
Don’t Forget the Giver
What a kindness it is that God has created us not only to need him, but to need other believers in this life as well. It’s why we feel an intrinsic need to be with other believers and why it cuts so deeply when that fellowship is lost or broken. Christian fellowship is a gift to be cherished. How much more though, should this gift stir our hearts to cherish the Giver of all good gifts?
Longing for community is a good and godly thing. We should pray and hope for deep connections with a local church—for discipleship, friendship, and communion with other saints. But we must remember that Christian community is a gift and grace from above. It’s tempting to focus so much on finding it that we forget the Giver himself (James 1:17).
So as we long for that gift of fellowship to arrive, may we long even more for fellowship with the One True God. May we recall his nearness, faithfulness, and goodness to us as we wait (Psalm 145).
True Community Takes Time
It takes time to build a church, to find a church, and to feel like we belong to a church. True community doesn’t happen overnight. It involves a lot of pouring out and digging in, attending Bible studies, home groups, and prayer gatherings. It takes effort and a whole lot of time.
Many long for community, yet remain unwilling to try. Others try for years and still don’t feel connected to their local church. Or maybe we’re elevating our own expectations about what community should look like above what Scripture says. If so, we might believe that true Christian fellowship means others won’t hurt us or sin against us. In reality, we will be hurt and we will hurt other believers.
We get a glimpse into what true fellowship with other saints looks like in Acts 2:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”Acts 2:42-27
This is what we long for isn’t it? Yet, we live in a fallen world where cliques exist and dissension occurs and churches are divided or destroyed. Community as believers who still battle against sin is messy. It can be hard. But it can also be restored and made beautiful by a good God. It takes a lot of time and effort, but true community is possible.
God is Working in the Waiting
As my husband and I continue our endeavor to search for the church God wants us to join, it’s easy to feel like we’re just wasting time. Sometimes I get frustrated and worry we’ll never feel at home in a church again.
But God doesn’t waste anything we go through. He grows us through every single experience and struggle (Romans 5:3-5, 8:28-30). It’s waiting, not wasting. And he is working in the waiting. He’s shaping us and growing our trust in him and priming our hearts to know even more that he is our portion (Psalm 73:26). If you’re longing for community, he’s working in your waiting too.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”Psalm 27:14
Trusting our Good Shepherd
It’s painful to be in a season without true community. It feels lonely and hard. But we are not alone. God is with us, friends. He goes before us and he will never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8).
He’s our Good Shepherd, leading us down paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:3). One day we’ll look back and see how he was working in our hearts through this season of longing. And we’ll praise him, for he knows best and his timing is always perfect.
- One of the most comforting truths about God is that he is our Good Shepherd. Read Psalm 23 and then write the entire passage in a journal. What verse is most encouraging to you right now in your longing for community?
- Using Acts 2:42-47, pray Scripture back to God, asking him to lead you to a community like what’s described there.
- Read Psalm 145 and highlight every verse that describes God’s character (his faithfulness, goodness, greatness etc.).
- Longing for a church community is hard and lonely. Journal a prayer to God, sharing your heart with him. He sees, he knows, and he cares.
Photo credit: Emilee Carpenter