I’m a recovering community skeptic. I’ve written about it in a few places and thought it about it a lot over the last several years. I grew up in church. I was a faithful Sunday school class member and weekly worship attender. I suppose as such I was in Christian community with the people around me. But there was a separateness to those weekly experiences. I had my home life and my church life, and rarely did the two meet.
Until I grew up and Christian community became a thing. I’ve been part of a few long-term community groups now, and I know the difference between weekly attendance and the discipline of encouraging and challenging one another to run this race. Weekly church attendance is still easier for me than loosening my grip on my time and energy. But the benefits of being in regular community with other Christians far exceed the strain on my schedule. Take these two examples:
I recently started meeting with a small group of women who are 15 years younger than me. We’re reading the book of Acts together. These women are in a different season of life, and their heart for the people around them to know Jesus is equal parts encouraging and convicting. They are constantly inviting neighbors and friends and people they meet in checkout lines to dinner. They are on a mission, always. They encourage me to find new ways to love people well.
I have a different group of women I recently reached out to with an urgent prayer need. These women are closer to my age and in a similar phase of life. They prayed specifically for me as soon as I sent the text message, and followed up throughout the day. Their prayers lifted me up. Knowing they were interceding on my behalf reminded me this walk of faith isn’t to be walked alone.
From time to time, I still fight the urge to grip my schedule and my space too tightly. I don’t relish the thought of arriving to community group with cranky children or with these stresses of the day still fresh on my mind. I don’t always want to share my struggles. But in those moments, God reminds me we are designed to “provoke love and good works” in each other (Hebrews 10:24). I may have gotten here a little late, but I’m all in on community.
Meredith Flynn writes on the intersection of family, faith, and culture in Brighter Day, a column for the Illinois Baptist newspaper. She is a member of Delta Church in Springfield.