Sunday, April 30, 2017

Communers not Consumers: 6 Ways to Build Community in your Church

What do you want in a church?  A strong youth program, a fantastic minister, visionary elders, lots for your kids to do?  

Would you trade all of that for community?  You know a church where everyone knows you, not your mask but the real you, and loves you anyway?  A place where you are integral, where you are missed, where you are needed?  A place where you know everyone.  Their hurts are yours, their joys are your, their children are like your own nieces, nephews, grandkids.  No, if you had that, you'd be a part of that church for the rest of your life. 


If we are not careful, we become consumers of church instead of communers at church.  We can see church in an individualistic way that evaluates the group on what it can give me. Or we can see our congregation in a communal way which asks: "What do I have to offer this group of people? How can I be a part, take part, become a part?"  And if we are consumers, we will have missed out on God's plan to be a people called out from the larger neighborhood to be a family.  

My husband has been teaching through 1 Corinthians and we recently ran across 1 Corinthians 12:15-18.  

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 
(1 Corinthians 12:15)

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 
(1 Corinthians 12:18)

Communers not Consumers: 6 Ways to Build Community in your Church.  Fellowship, Christian Life, Congregation, UnityThis concept that we are all one body, all placed in our church by God, all rejoicing together or all suffering together is something we long for without knowing how to achieve.  But the solution, sisters, is not to go out and find that church.  That is consumer thinking again.  We need to BUILD those churches.  That is the way communers think.  
But how?  I'd like to offer you 6 suggestions today.

1. Texts of Encouragement-basically this strategy calls on us to take our bulletin home and not only pray for the people in our congregation who are having a hard time one by one but to connect with them through text.  Click through to the original post for more details.  This accomplishes two things. First it builds up our congregation in prayer.  Second it connects the text-er to the needs and worries of the rest of the congregation.

2. Play together-It's a sunny spring day and you are headed to the park with your kids, what is stopping you from texting all the moms from your kids' Sunday School classes to see if any of them want to go too?  You are going hiking, could you invite your small group?  Our congregation enjoys picnic potlucks in the parks in the summer, and we've played kickball after Wednesday night church.  It doesn't have to be a production, but if you are going to play why not play together?

3. Work together-If you long to be a part of warm, loving, connected congregation, there will be work to do.  In the spring there are weeds to pull, flowers to plant, signs to paint.  Cleaning, organizing and preparing materials for Sunday School are necessary evils.  That's not to mention work outside the grounds like helping the widowed, visiting the shut-in, taking food to the bereaved, and child-care.  Many of these tasks could be accomplished with another member of your congregation instead of alone! Shared work builds bridges between people!

4. Stop saying you're "fine."  There is no building community with our brothers and sisters while we are still in hiding.  No one is "fine" all the time.  Let's be people who are painfully, confessionally honest. Telling others our troubles will let them be brave and tell us theirs. This works for our most ordinary troubles (pregnancy, potty training, pill boxes) and our most shameful sins (pornography).  

5. Include everyone.  Extroverts find community easier to build and easier to deal with than introverts but they need it no less badly.  Be sure that you value the 50% of the population are going to prioritize the quiet and deep relationships that strengthen our church. 


6. Stick your foot out.  Do you remember in the upper room when Jesus wanted to wash Peter's feet?  Peter was very hesitant.  He served not got served-especially not by his teacher!  Often the kind of people who are drawn to read an article like this are people who are longing to build bridges are leaders and servants.  Like Peter they don't think of themselves as people who need served.  But we don't have true community until we are interdependent. Don't be Peter!  Be as willing to be served as to serve!


If you want to be connected, loving and beloved, a real part of things, it's up to you to take the first steps.  Become a communer instead of a consumer.  And as you are linked to the people around you with chains of love and respect, your whole congregation will be morphed into just the thing you wanted anyway.  Family.

16 comments:

  1. #4 Yes!!! "I'm fine" gets us no where. Thanks for sharing on the #sundaythoughts link up!

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    1. Jamie, I had to hold this one down to a few sentences because I could write a whole blog post on how damaging it is to us and to our church family when we don't open our hearts and share with each other. It's ok to be the one who needs prayer, who is having a bad day, who is struggling. Every time a strong person tells the hard truth everyone around them is empowered to tell their own hard truth!

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  2. Thank you for the reminder. The ladies on our congregation we do a weekly text of encouragement and have arranged a monthly get together and include all of the ladies. It has grown our ladies group but not anywhere it should be but getting better.

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    1. I love that your ladies are sticking together and encouraging each other!

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  3. Love this post, Helene! You've included so many vital messages here. You're so right, we need to focus on what we can do for a church/the people in a church, not what they should be doing for us. I've heard of so many people leaving churches simply because "no one every talked to us." I want to ask, "Why didn't you talk to someone?" :) I appreciate your tips to promote community. #6 is a great one, too. I've noticed that the best servers in our church have a hard time being served. Thanks for these ideas and insights!

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    1. Thank you Jerusha! My mama loves to say, "you get out of it what you put into it." In other words we are often as connected at church as we try to be. We've got to throw in our part.

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  4. Good points, Helene! We have seen bringing about 1/3 of our church together to work on VBS and women's prayer partners help a lot at our church. Recently one of the women I disciple told me her sister-in-law, a SMO (Sunday Morning Only), was sad she didn't get asked to do more. We tend to rely on volunteers and people who actively attend, but I asked her to help with a craft at missionary night and she responded happily. It's a start!

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    1. Sharon, thanks so much for bringing up the power of invitation! I totally should have mentioned that! I see such growth in our SMO folks when they get personally asked by someone who loves them to go!

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  5. Good morning Helene, what a helpful and enlightening post! After moving from our hometown several years ago, we have struggled to find a just right fit. I think it's been that consumer mindset. Thanks for sharing ways to really connect with God's family.

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  6. Alice, getting started back into a new church after a move can be so tough! I'll be praying for you and your family to find the ways you need to connect to God's family in your new town!

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  7. This post definitely describes great steps to get the church to be a community! I really do like #4. Just saying Fine is like saying, I want to talk but not sure if I can talk. Whether its about the situation or being able to talk to the specific person about it. Church should be a safe place and all who is within it should be able to easily trust one another. Great to see your heart for community within the church.

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  8. Great post! I love how you encourage us to give those random invites to things we were already planning on doing.

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  9. So much good stuff here!! Our family is part of a small church planting team, and this covers many attributes of the community we want to grow (in terms of internal ministry).

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  10. So much good stuff here!! Our family is part of a small church planting team, and this covers many attributes of the community we want to grow (in terms of internal ministry).

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  11. Yes! Everyone needs to do their part - including ME! Sitting around waiting for others to serve us only fosters our selfishness and makes room for Satan's foot to get in the door. Be busy. Think of something you'd like done for yourself and find someone to do it for instead. Send cards (snail mail is always bring a smile! People LOVE getting birthday cards.) We are to be active towards one another not passive.

    Good job!

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