The Importance of Community

To be fair to the issue of Community I need to note that this post will not cover absolutely every reason community is important in one’s life.
I will cover just one of many aspects through personal illustration.

Lately I have been giving much thought to the idea of community. Not because the idea of community is new to me, or because I have been an introverted, individualist, hermit that has none. I’m actually quite opposite. Throughout my life I have been blessed repeatedly with remarkable friendships, loving family, and healthy churches.

I have a whole group of girlfriends who I have known since the age of seven. To this day I could ask several of them for anything… I could tell them my deepest darkest secrets… I can weep with them, I can rejoice with them. I have friends I made in college while attending a 20 something area of our church that are still amazing friends to this day. I made life-long friends and kindred spirits when I moved to Nashville. Our short one-year stint in Orlando also blessed me with true relationships that time and distance won’t rob. I have a large extended family, almost all of which lives in the same town as me! (my side, not my husbands). The only exception is one cousin, and one aunt.

I don’t boast in all of this to make those with out community jealous, or to brag on any kind of popularity. I only mention it to give background that community is not a new concept for me. Yet it still keeps popping into my mind. And I know why.

Despite all these wonderful friends I have. Most, even if involved in my church, are not involved where I am in my church. My church was pretty large and growing when I moved away 7 years ago. Upon, my return I found it to have grown to Mega-church size. Our church has always had small-groups, or kinships as they call them, to offset this. It has also planted many churches around the city to also off-set the growth… but it is still huge. Truthfully, I like smaller churches.

To me this makes ours overwhelming. The teaching is amazing, but the crowd? Large. And over the years my extroverted self has grown increasingly introverted. I prefer one on one time with my girls over parties. And small crowds over large ones. Because of this, we found a small group in our area about 6 months ago. They were quick to welcome us. Owen clicked with the other children within 3 weeks of attending (he is shy at first). And we really liked a lot of the other couples. Despite these facts, I have felt rather disconnected with the women.

Lukas is a little too young for the babysitter at small group, mostly because she has 10 other older children needing her attention. If I added a baby to the bunch it would be difficult. Out of discouragement I have not been going on Wednesday’s, electing instead to stay home with Lukas and let JJ take Owen.

We also have been considering going to another church, a really great one that was planted in our suburb. We have been attending it for about 3 Sundays and love the worship, the teaching, the people, and the SIZE (around 230-300). I have also loved that it was near us and that is comforting knowing that Owen will have Christian friends in the near vicinity. Especially should we choose to send him to public school.

Then this last Wednesday happened. I had volunteered to have Bible Study at our house because our small groups normal hosts were unavailable, and the Lord has blessed us with a great place. Then my back went out so getting ready for it meant hiring maids, calling on my dad for help, and JJ bending over backwards. But it was worth it.

During worship (for those who don’t know… a guy brings his guitar and we all sing songs of praise to God) I felt so much peace. What a blessing to have that in my home! And then, we did our normal splitting up of girls and guys because we are currently reading different books. Group was pretty small this week so there were only 4 other girls. After our discussion of the book, I shared about my back (which was obvious b/c I looked crippled), and opened up about some other things going on with me.

I found myself completely humbled. They gathered around me and prayed. They prayed for healing; prayed for comfort; prayed over the issues I discussed with them. They weren’t rushed screaming children outside the door. They weren’t just trying to check it off a list. They prayed, and waited, and prayed some more. One of them even in tears as she prayed for me. I barely knew these girls.

I felt really strongly (shortly before they started praying for me,) that God is calling me to contentment, speaking to my heart to stay put. To stop searching so hard for things he already has right in front of me. My nature is to be fidgety. But he is calling me to stay. Perhaps I’m a change addict after 4 years of rapid change I had little control over. I don’t know. But I’m going to stay. I’m going to dig deeper, and trust God. And these girls so willingly taking time to minister to me were the final catalyst. A realization of what I am surrounded by.

This last week I have remembered this Bible story several times a day:

Luke 5:17-26

17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

I copied the whole passage for context. But what has been going through my mind the most is that this paralyzed man had friends that were willing to carry him to Jesus that he might be healed! And not only that, they did not give up easily. They did not turn around when it was full but instead carried the man up to the roof and somehow lowered the mat through the roof down to the floor right in front of JESUS! That is community. That is what we are to be for each other when we have the capacity to. And the other night, that is how I felt. Though I didn’t suddenly find healing, the hearts of the girls ministered me to in my group. I felt as someone loved and cared for… not just a bullet point in a prayer list.

I hope everyone that read this has community like that…. And if not PURSUE it. It can mean getting hurt, But try, It’s worth it. Community is what brings food when you have a baby, or take your kids when you are at your wits end. Community doesn’t care if you can’t get your house clean for them, but instead will actually help you clean it. Community is where you can give and forget about yourself for the moment. Pursue Community. Sometimes you may even find it in surprising places.


6 Responses to “The Importance of Community”

  1. 1 tieki rae April 22, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my site. 🙂 Just to let you know, when I click your name from your comments, it tries to go to – which doesn’t work. I found my way here through my mom’s page though. Your little boys are the cutest!

  2. 2 misi8181 April 22, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    You know I have been yearning for community. We are going to Northland now and it’s so big but it’s where Josh needs to be so we stay. The community part is hard though. I feel so lost and alone in that BIG church. No one smiles or says hello.. I am praying for fellowship for me and my family.

  3. 3 stevereenie April 22, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    You see honey, I do read your posts, just don’t alwasy comment. Can I be in your community?……….Next Stop Lauderdale

  4. 4 meridith April 22, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    i love how those girls loved on you, this is a great post. you are a rare friend in life who has been more like family than friend to me and you have shown me community in it’s purest form. i am so glad you have direction. love you!

  5. 5 mommyzabs April 22, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    TR- I will visit you often 🙂 Thanks for the tip, i fixed it!

    Misi- I wish you had it too. Are their small groups at Northland? Or a MOPS program or anything? I will be praying for you.

    Dad- thanks for stopping by 🙂 And your in that closest circle… family. the kind that pick up toys for you and tuck your kids in when your back isn’t working. And do your taxes year in and out, manage trusts…. think of things in need before i think of it. you are more than community. but family and dad. And we need to get you bookmarks for the blogs you like.

    Meridith- you too have shown me the same kind of friendship and community. we know eachothers uglies and pretties and still have tons of love for it. miss you and hopefully see you tomorrow night right?

  6. 6 nicole fortunato April 23, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    i really could not agree more. i did not grow up in a community at all. i never got really involved in churches i attended (besides the usual serving in the nursery, etc.) now i am in a community/church of 50-55 (and still we meet in smaller groups of 10 twice a month). community has shown me blind spots, hard edges in my personality, insecurities, character strengths, spiritual gifts, acceptance, the ‘greater good,’ how to serve. . .community has changed my life. i am not exaggerating. it’s such a safe place even though it’s also a VERY vulnerable, sometimes uncomfortable place. i do think it’s important to point out (and remember) that communities focused on being disciples of Jesus don’t just focus internally, their purpose is to glorify God, to build His kingdom and to serve and build into others. it’s really an amazing gift from God to us, though filled with all of us fragile people with faults and insecurities. it’s a messy walking-out of this life, but irreplaceable in bringing joy and courage and insight to Jesus’ love for His bride, the church.

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