ARTICLE BY: Natalia Drumm, Living by Design Writing Team
She stood on the outskirts of the room, her black hoodie tucked up around her head.
Black smudged eyeliner hiding her eyes as her dirty sneakers kicked the floor around her feet.
I stood back in the lobby and watched the interactions of the Tuesday night youth group as they played out in front of me.
This girl was smart, I knew her game.
She would occasionally look up around the room and make a quick scan, wondering if someone else would make eye contact and invite her in.
But also scanning quickly enough so that if no contact was made she wouldn’t feel awkward.
Self-protection at its finest.
I know her, because I’ve been her.
Desperate for a friend.
Searching for acceptance.
Longing for someone to say, “Let’s walk this life together.”
Maybe this is why I can find her so quickly in a room.
They say, “It takes one to know one.”
And boy, oh boy, do I know how it feels to “want to be wanted.”
Seconds felt like hours as I watched the all-too-familiar scene unfold.
Thankfully, another girl in the youth group walked over and said hello; the girl in the hoodie was quickly absorbed into a huddle of giggling teens.
I exhaled, not even realizing that I had been holding my breath.
Our Need for Christian Community
There’s a delicate place in our hearts that aches for deep connection with others.
This tender space within our souls craves connection.
We can try to run from it, deny it, and try to suppress it.
But at the end of the day, we can’t escape it.
It’s part of our identity as image bearers of the One True God.There’s such a delicate place in our hearts that desires connection with others. It's a part of who we are as image bearers of the One True God.Click To Tweet
Community has always existed because God is community.
His very essence—one God in three distinct forms—bears witness to this marvelous truth.
We see it in creation when He says, ”Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26. ESV.)
Because we are made in the image of God, we have a built-in need for Christian community.
Once Adam was created, God searched the earth for a helper for him. “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” So God created woman.
The very beginning of the human story establishing the Creator’s call to community.
In today’s article, we are going to explore three practical ways Christian community builds our faith.
#1 – Christian Community Shows Us God
As we live and do life together we see in each other the creative and unique aspects of God’s person.
All of us are image bearers, and we are all created by the same God.
As we see the differences in each other, we get glimpses at the diversity and beauty of God as our Creator.
If the only image of God I have is what I see in myself, I miss so much!
But as I see the musical talent in one friend, the artistic gifts in another, the writing gifts in another, the gifts of generosity and patience in another, I experience so much more.
All the different gifts and talents of all the people around me show me over and over again the many traits and beauties of our intricate God. (Acts 17:26-27 ESV.)All the different gifts and talents of all the people around us show us over and over again the many traits and beauties of our intricate God.Click To Tweet
The diversity and creativity of God is displayed all across His creation and in the faces of all the people He creates.
Each and every leader we learn about in the pages of Scripture is so different from the others.
Because each and every one of us has different skills, talents, and assignments.
Rather than viewing someone else’s strengths as a competition to mine, living in healthy community allows me the opportunity to praise the work of God in others.
Christian community keeps the focus off of me and onto the God who created us.
After all, the story is always about Him and not us.
#2 – Christian Community Keeps Us Grounded
It’s so easy to go off the deep end when life is crazy.
Having a community of like-minded believers who can talk us off the ledge of our crazy is essential. (Ecc. 4:9-12)
So many days the cruel realities of our sin-filled world can tear at our souls.
When life is overwhelming and we can’t see beyond the circumstances in front of us, having a tribe of people around us to talk to us, encourage us and pray us through our situations keeps us grounded.Having a community of like-minded believers who can talk us off the ledge of our crazy is essential.Click To Tweet
We see this pattern of support all throughout Scripture.
Moses had Aaron and Miriam.
Joshua had Caleb.
David had Jonathan.
Naomi had Ruth.
Esther had Mordecai.
Daniel had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendigo.
Elijah had Elisha.
Jesus had Peter, James, and John.
Paul had Timothy.
We were never designed to do this life alone.
Yet so often when we find ourselves in our lowest points we also find ourselves isolated and lonely. Satan does this on purpose—if he can isolate us, the lies he whispers to us sound like truth.
Without people around to counteract the crazy, we can easily spiral in chaos.
Building and caring for our tribe leads us to have healthy guardrails when the weights of this world become too heavy to carry alone.
#3 – Christian Community Sharpens Us
Solomon said it best in Proverbs while discussing friends: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17 ESV)
When we do life in community we find that we aren’t perfect, we make mistakes, we wound one another, and that requires us to hear correction.
Listening from others about ourselves is a great way to be sharpened because so many times we are unable to see things about ourselves that others close to us are able to see.
This sharpening happens as we open ourselves up to living in community with other believers who love and care for us.
Allowing others space and freedom to speak into our lives requires trust, vulnerability, and teach-ability.Allowing others space and freedom to speak into our lives requires trust, vulnerability and teach-ability.Click To Tweet
Traits that take time to foster, yet once practiced, build us into spiritually strong believers.
It’s never easy to see the weaknesses in ourselves, but having a tribe to strengthen us along this journey of life makes the journey so much easier to walk.
And sometimes correction is necessary on that journey.
To sharpen us.
To make us stronger.
As we walk alongside others in community, we need to ask ourselves: Are we women who seek to build up others—or women who tear others down?
Building Your Own Christian Community
My teenage friend’s story ended well that Tuesday night, but so many of us have stories that haven’t ended well. Many times the pain of our past experiences keep us from stepping out and trying again.
God desires that we live in unity and peace with all.
He wants us to grow our relationships within the body of believers, so we can function as a healthy church body.
Building healthy relationships within our local churches and local believers is important not just for us personally, but also so we can work together to accomplish the mission of sharing the Gospel with those all around us.
Now, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Great stuff. I want a tribe of my own, but it just hasn’t happened for me yet.”
Don’t be discouraged.
God sees all the efforts we make and our heart’s desires.Be the friend you want to attract and see what happens in your world.Click To Tweet
I spent years praying for “my people” and putting myself out there with others to see if we would be a good fit. Some relationships “took” and we became great friends. Others faded away as seasons shifted or lives diverged into different paths.
Be the friend you want to attract and see what happens in your world.
While you work toward building a solid community, be sure to set time aside daily to be praying for the right people to come into your life to grow your tribe.
Stay alert about the people in your world and how God moves people into your path.
Invest in others and watch your Christian community begin to take shape around you.
– Natalia Drumm
Natalia Drumm is a writer, speaker, and teacher with a heart for women’s ministry. She leads small groups in her local church and began Girlfriends in the Word, a community of women seeking to build strong relationships with God and others through time in Scripture.
Natalia works on the Creative Team at Living by Design Ministries as Bible Study Content Editor and writes for Lifeway Women’s Journey Magazine. She loves spending her time with her three boys and husband and can’t turn down a cold Coke and a chocolate chip cookie. Connect with Natalia on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.