I hear this phrase a lot at my church. We have smaller groups of about eight-ten families who get together once or twice a month to have a meal, study the Bible, and have prayer. Many churches have these groups which go by a variety of names. We call them Lifewalk groups at my church. The format of each group is different dependent on who is in the group. Groups with smaller children do things differently than groups where the children are grown and gone.
These groups make it easier to probe into the deeper things our walk with Jesus requires, and they make us accountable to each other. This might sound like a bad thing, but it really isn’t. Community and deep friendships are forged by talking to each other about the deeper things of life and what’s going on in our lives.
What the really neat thing is though is that our groups combine together on Sunday mornings, and we have a much larger community doing life together. People who are willing to take care of each other and love each other the way Jesus calls us to. As I’ve said before, this is the most honest and real community we’ve ever been in.
In the years we’ve been here, I’ve learned some things need to happen for church communities to have the most successful chance at doing life together. The first is that we need to take our shields down and be open and vulnerable. This is so tough. I have a tough time with it. But, the rewards are so worth it. Letting people into your heart lets God get further into your heart and do the work He needs to do.
The second thing that needs to happen is we need to be loving and encouraging to those who are being vulnerable in front of us. It can be a hard thing. Vulnerability makes us uncomfortable. We would all rather pretend that everything is okay all of the time and keep moving forward. But, we can’t do that! If we are to have the true community God wants for us, we need to be vulnerable in front of each other.
Finally, for us to have the strongest example of living in community, our leaders need to be an example of this to us, and we need to accept our leaders being vulnerable in front of us. It has been rare for me to see church leaders vulnerable. I think this is because it is expected for them to be strong and stoic in front of us and not vulnerable. In fact, I saw something yesterday that caught me off guard and actually inspired this post among other things. Our youth minister was preaching, and he became emotional about a story he was telling. I did a double take because I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen something like that. But, then, I was like, wow, it is ok to be vulnerable here.
God has called all of us to do life together and to be open and vulnerable with one another. Praying that all of us would find a genuine church community as we continue to grow in God’s love and grace!
God’s blessings on all of you today!