Not long ago, in a post ("Blogging I Love") at The Assembling of the Church, Alan Knox asked, "What topics would you like to see several bloggers write about and discuss?" And I answered, "Finding like-minded people locally who want to experience that “church as family/ village” ?? The potential loneliness of wanting to move beyond programmed/institutional church …" And it seemed like other people were interested in those kinds of questions too.
Then a few days later, in a post called Finding Community, Alan talked about the community of believers that he is part of, and then asked, "What would you say to someone who is moving to a new location (or perhaps is in a location with few – or no – close friends)? What encouragement would you give them for building close relationships with other believers? How would you help them find community?"
Well, he has already (within 2 days) received 28 comments! I have been watching the comments eagerly, because obviously the question of "finding community" is something I am really involved in currently in my life.
I am first going to list the main responses to Alan's questions (I hope he doesn't mind - I'd ask but he is off to Ethiopia for a couple weeks, and no email access, so I'm going to chance that he'll be okay with this.
Then I am going to write another post with some "comments" I started writing - and couldn't bring myself to post there, because they're too long for comments, I think - and maybe I'm just embarrassed and feeling kind of hopeless about all this.
Anyway, here are the answers people gave:
Trust in and fellowship with God Himself (my own relationship with Father, first), time and patience, centering around Jesus, prayer, helpful books, hard work, wait, move, google, websites of groups in our community, stop looking and start creating (love sacrificially, share lives, invite others into your life, listen, speak edifying words, be honest), leave the church you're at and seek a more community-minded one OR stay where you are and work for transformation there, look carefully to see the "spark" of God's Spirit where you are, look to see how a group helps us to serve God and others, seek to find where God wants me rather than what/where I want to be, seek people within your current group with whom you can share community, don't let your problems with the institution or your selfishness stand in the way of your contribution to building the body, invest the time required in unstructured communication for community to develop, relax into community instead of striving for it, if you feel isolated you have to invest yourself to build it rather than find it.
And some questions: Where do we find people to build relationships with? What if they don't want to participate? What if you aren't currently part of anything - what direction to go in? Where can I plug in where I will be able to make the most strategic and helpful contribution toward the building up of the Body of Christ in the locality in which I live, and around the world? Is this more about me, or about how God can use me to build up others?
If you're interested in my own responses, see my next post!