The Importance Of Community By Curtis Kauffman
The idea of community is not new or foreign to me. I grew up a part of the largest church in a small town and because of this, the idea and practice of community has just been ingrained in me. I remember having birthday parties in our old fireside room and all the kids in the church were invited. I also remember hopping in my dad’s truck to go and mow a few lawns on a Saturday morning just to find out that the lawns had already been mowed and the needs of the elderly had already been met. You see as a family many of the things we would do during the week would be in direct response to the needs of our community. If we were heading to the park or to swim practice we were never alone – there were always others filling the empty seats of our VW bus. However, somewhere along the road I lost this sense of community. I lost the practical life on life example my parents so diligently ingrained in me to my need to be my own person. I set aside the need of others to fulfill the desires of myself.
It wasn’t until I began to have children of my own that I recognized again the importance of community. As my children grew I was reminded of the beauty that community is in a child’s life. I saw the need for more interaction in the lives of my children as I was confronted with my lack of desire for community. The reality is that I have always had a great community around me to interact and grow with, however I lacked the intentionality and vulnerability that is so desperately needed for the deeper development of true community. What I was missing was the Acts 2 example in my community development. Letting people in was the hardest part. I spotted my shortcomings in Acts 2:44, “all who believed were together and had all things in common.” I didn’t want to admit to myself or to others that we had things in common, that our brokenness and need for grace was the single most common thing in our lives. I wanted to be superficial and never give in to that amount of vulnerability.
As a staff we have been sharing with one another through this “Spring Training” series how God has worked in our lives in the spiritual disciplines we have covered on Sundays. This week we heard three different stories from staff members who painted very different pictures of what community has meant to them. The first one was a community that began out of necessity due to the pandemic and the need for these families with children all around the same age to have an energy outlet. The energy outlet for the neighborhood children developed into a weekly time for the entire families to be together which has strengthened marriages, friendships and created openings for the gospel to be shared regularly. The second example was of a community that has stood the test of time. This group began over 30 years ago and has seen all of life’s ups and downs including celebrations over the births of children, weddings, graduations to sickness, death and restoration. The third community group we heard about was a group that discusses hard topics when they gather and doesn’t always have the easiest time agreeing on everything, however they all continually see the value in their commitment to each other as they strive to live as God has called them to live. In all three of these examples we were able to hear that community takes work. Let’s not be surprised when we find ourselves really having to work for the sake of our community, because it is the work that we give to our communities that ultimately gives them worth in our lives.
Since Community can look so different for all of us I wanted to give you just a few ideas that might help you find and identify your community.
Begin by asking yourself:
- Who is around me?
- Where has God placed me?
- Are there evident needs in the lives of those close to me?
- How has God prepared me for Community–what can I bring to the table?
- What do I hope to get out of community?
And follow up by praying to God:
- Show me my community.
- Strengthen my ability to surrender and be vulnerable.
- Please give my work value and worth so I desire more community.
- Please use me in my community and allow me to respond based on what you have done for me.