“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”Matthew 18:20
Something we all long for is to have a group of people who love and accept us. We want people who will celebrate the victories of life with us and mourn the seasons of grief. From the very beginning of creation, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18 NIV).
There are seasons in life when community just falls into our life. But other times, it seems so hard to find your people. And for many, finding a community that is following Christ is even harder. Maybe you just started following Jesus and you don’t know how to find a community of others who are doing the same. Maybe you just entered a new place in life where you have to start over in finding your community. Whatever the case, finding a Christ-centered community can be a life-giving part of our Christian walk.
The Community of the Church
For most people, the idea of a godly community naturally makes them think of church. Unfortunately for some, church is viewed simply as a building we walk in and out of on a Sunday morning. But if we look back in Scripture, we see that church was intended to be so much more than a weekly gathering.
Read Acts 2.
In this chapter, we see what many refer to as the “birth” of the church. It stemmed from Peter teaching people about Jesus and calling them to repent and give their lives to him. After hearing Peter, these people came together to repent and change their lives and follow Christ together. As a result, verse 44 says that “they had everything in common.” This led to them meeting daily as they pursued the Lord. They did everything together from giving to the poor to simply enjoying each other’s presence.
From the beginning, the church was meant to be a community in which you knew you were surrounded by people that have a common goal in life. Living life as a Christian has a lot of moments of celebration and rejoicing, but it also has a lot of hard moments full of mourning and questions. It’s been clear since the beginning of the church that God has intended for us to be a community that can walk through those things together. In fact, the majority of Scripture was written to groups of people rather than just individuals. Paul wrote most of his letters to churches of believers. We are not meant to walk the path of Christ alone. If we are going to be a light in the world, we need people to help keep our flame from burning out. Thus, the church was born.
I understand it isn’t always that simple. This past year has been a big year of searching for community in my life, and it’s not always as simple as being able to just walk into a church and instantly feel part of that community. However, there are some things that we can do in order to help ourselves with this search.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”Acts 2:42
Something I have experienced, and have heard from many others, is that one of the hardest parts of finding a community is making the effort to search for it. I know that I grew up in an environment where I was used to community coming to me. In high school, in my hometown, and in college it was pretty natural for opportunities to meet people to present themselves to me. Now I’ve entered a phase of life where it’s not that easy.
In Acts 2, we see the church forming because people were devoting themselves to what the apostles were teaching. If these people hadn’t decided to be active in pursuing the Lord, they wouldn’t have become a community. They were choosing to meet together daily. Today, there are many people who want the community, but don’t want to devote themselves. If we want to find people who will actively devote themselves to the Lord by our side, then we must find them by actively devoting ourselves. So, if you want to find people that will serve with you then go out and serve! If you want to find people that will worship with you, then go out and find places to worship! Instead of waiting for the right people to come to you, be devoted and take the first steps of finding the kind of community you are looking for!
No one likes getting out of their comfort zone! The fear of awkward interactions or possible rejections has often held me back from potential friendships. Even at church, I remember being terrified the first night I joined a new small group, or asked a girl I barely knew if she wanted to get coffee. Something that helped me change my mindset was thinking about one of the most popular verses in Scripture: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). The Lord tells us that we are called to love one another. Rather than thinking about possible rejection, think about how you are giving someone a chance to love you the way God calls us to love. Wouldn’t you love it if someone came and trusted you enough to be a source of God’s love in their life? Give others that chance as well! Looking back now, I think of how I gained some of my closest community from choosing to be vulnerable and getting outside of my comfort zone.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to include God in your search for community. My favorite part of Acts 2 is the very last verse which says: “…And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” God is actively at work in the church and in the community of his people. Take time to talk to him about your desire for a Christ-centered community. Let him be a part of your journey as he has been growing his people since the very beginning.
- How are you pursuing community in your life today?
- What is something that holds you back from finding people to walk with you in your life?
- What can you be doing to find people who are actively seeking to live their lives for Christ?
Photo credit: Sarah Brossart
Kristen is a recent college graduate who now works as a youth pastor in Chattanooga, TN. She is passionate about encouraging and teaching teens as well as young adults in their walk with Christ. She also enjoys writing and currently has an Instagram page called @l.e.t.s.b.e.r.e.a.l dedicated to sharing the things that God is teaching her in this new journey of faith in adulthood.