We’re encouraged to build community a lot, particularly in churches. Loads of people have opinions on what this means and how we can best do this. But a recent conversation with a friend who recently planted a church reduced it down to 2 bits of advice, which I think are both wise and easy to apply.
If you read any of my other posts, on this site or on other sites, it won’t take you long to realise that I think strong relationships with friends, colleagues, family, and the community, are vital if we want to feel safe, secure, and fulfilled.
I think in a culture which focuses on the individual and self-sufficiency, we can undervalue and ignore interdependence. We can then feel the negative effects due to a lack of community and be worse off as a result.
‘Community’, More Than A Buzz Word
I was speaking to a friend the other day who is involved in a new church plant with some of his friends and family. They’re really excited about it and have wanted to do it for a while.
It’s interesting talking to him about what he wants to prioritise, what the vision is, and how they feel God has spoken to them. But I find it fascinating that they are essentially involved in building a community out of nothing. And trying to gather people and get them to buy in and get excited about this new community.
He really wants to create and foster an authentic community
Community isn’t just a word my friend wants to just throw around. He really wants to create and foster an authentic community. (Read Family’ Is Redefined In Light Of The Cross)
He said he feels that in order to do this it’s important to make people feel like they are wanted and needed. If people feel wanted and needed, they will feel part of the community and want to stick around.
It sounds so obvious, so simple, yet it’s easy to forget.
Take church as a case study, we can often be so keen to get people to feel needed that we get them to sign up to help out on different rotas. We can forget to make the individual feel wanted when this happens.
I remember walking into a church once and was instantly handed a form that asked which teams I was going to be part of, I hadn’t even spoken to more than two people at that point!
Now, helping out is part of being invested in a community. We can’t just be consumers. We need to have a role, to feel like we are adding value. I believe part of discipleship is getting stuck in and serving and helping the community.
However, if it happens too fast or on its own, we can feel like we’re being used, and not really wanted.
I remember when my wife and I were looking for a new church. We ended up visiting a lot, and I must admit I don’t like not being part of a church and needing to find a new one.
Anyway, we went to several over a few months. Some we went to once, some we went back to two or three times. The ones we went back to were the ones that welcomed us and made us feel wanted. We felt welcomed in.
They didn’t just say hi, but really took the time to talk
The church I’m involved with now has one of the most genuine cultures of welcome I have ever experienced anywhere. In our first few visits or so, multiple people came up and spoke to us, asked us how we were doing, and chatted for a long time.
They didn’t just say hi, but really took the time to talk.
Moreover, there were also opportunities to serve too, and get involved. I have been in communities where you feel wanted, but you don’t feel like you can add value, or help out, you don’t feel needed. Then I slip into consumer mode and start to complain.
Feeling wanted and needed are so important. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)
2 Key Principles
I think this is true in most relationships too, isn’t it? When we think about friendships, romantic relationships, other communities we’re part of, we want to feel wanted. We want to know we matter to someone, and they want to feel the same.
We also want to feel needed. People like to help each other out, feel like they are adding value and making a positive impact on one another.
We can forget to do this, or make it all more complicated than it needs to be
Imagine if we remember that we can be part of fostering communities and relationships that thrive. It isn’t always easy, but we can make a difference to individuals and communities by making sure other people feel wanted and needed.
It’s so simple, but in the busyness of life and other things that happen, we can forget to do this, or make it all more complicated than it needs to be. So let’s try to strip it back and let these 2 bits of advice guide and help us in our relationships, churches, and communities. (Read Revealed: The Best Way To Build Better Friendships, In Half The Time?!)
How have communities made you feel both wanted and needed? Comments welcomed below