How Can Being In Community Benefit My Faith?
We all know that everything changed in 2020. Now that we have opened the door to a new year, we are all as hopeful that this year will be better than the last. That probably doesn’t mean everything is going to go back to “normal” because let’s be honest, we don’t even know what normal looks like anymore.
Regardless of what our lives looked like before 2020, we are all finding ourselves clinging to the hope that someday we will move on from all this craziness. Let us reassure you, we will! But until then, here we are, inching a little closer to a new normal each and every day.
Now that we have settled into the reality of our situation, it may be time for you to take inventory of your life. What changed for you in 2020? Chances are, alot…
Now each of these changes have many unique implications in our lives, but they all have one underlying theme: community.
Whether it was in the workplace, at your children’s school, in the checkout line, at the coffee shop, in the church lobby or even in your own home, we have all had our community and sense of connection extremely impacted in this past year.
In a world that celebrates individualism, maybe the lack of community hasn’t felt difficult for you; those who are self proclaimed introverts or home bodies may have enjoyed the extra down time.
For many, however, the isolation brought many challenges. While technology and modern day advancements have made it appear easy for us to live life in isolation, the rising level of anxiety and depression may be a clue that it’s not as easy as it appears.
According to mental health America “The number of people screening with moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety has continued to increase throughout 2020 and remains higher than rates prior to COVID-19.”
We have already seen evidence that living a life in isolation can affect your mental health, but how does that isolation also affect your faith?
It has been found that reading your bible, daily prayer, and time with God on your own are imperative to your faith. But when your walk with God is done only in isolation, you miss out on many benefits that come with experiencing God alongside others within biblical community.
How Can Community Benefit Your Faith?
Community Provides Accountability
Accountability. It can be a scary word. Maybe you aren’t even sure you want accountability, or you don’t like the idea of someone “calling you out” on the blind spots within your life. Accountability, however, does not have to be scary and can be one of the best ways for you to grow in your faith and personal life.
View accountability less as someone else being there to point out everything you do wrong and more as someone who can stand alongside you, expand your view, and make you stronger.
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
This verse in Ecclesiastes paints a beautiful picture of how your community can stand “back-to-back” with you as an extra line of defense when the enemy attacks and life throws you challenges or difficulties.
Accountability can also be great in any growth matters. Maybe you feel challenged to read your bible every day or cook a family dinner four times a week. You will be much more likely to succeed in any goal you set when you do it alongside others.
Community Gives us a Clearer Vision of God
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you.” John 13:34
We clearly read in the bible that we are called to love others as Christ has loved us. Nothing displays the love of Christ more than being able to accept others exactly as they are.
A biblical community will love and accept you as you are. Just as God does.
Having close relationships with others can actually in turn give you a better understanding of the character of God and grow your faith exponentially as you get to know God through those around you.
Community Brings Encouragement
When you are in community, you will find countless ways to be the hands and feet of Christ. You may be surprised how many simple acts can truly show the love of Christ to those around us.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24
Helping a friend move, bringing a new mom a meal, or praying with a hurting friend are all ways we can embody Hebrews 10:24.
When you are engaged in community, you will find yourself with a constant source of encouragement and support. Even though your community may not have the power to change your circumstances, they can lift your faith through the power of their testimony and help you carry your burdens.
Community Will Lead to Evangelism
We are all called to go and make disciples throughout the world. Sometimes this calling can be overwhelming. We think we need to literally go across the world to be used by God to expand his kingdom.
But we encourage you to first look at the “world” you live in. Your day to day life, those you see at the grocery store, fellow parents at the soccer game, or even your co-workers. When you take the time to look at those around you, there are plenty of people you are already in relation or acquaintance with who do not know the love of Christ.
In Acts 2, we see the believers of the early church start to form a community:
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer… all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
In this example through their fellowship, and meals, and prayer, and gathering, the Lord added to those being saved DAILY.
Did you know that inviting a friend to a meal, praying with a coworker, or a weekly zoom call could be so powerful?
God can do so much through fellowship and community if we give him the opportunity. Not only will He add to his kingdom but He will grow your faith in ways you never thought possible.
Ways to Connect in Biblical Community
Now that we have established how important being in community can be, you may be thinking, “Well that’s great, but how do I get in community after being isolated for so long?”
We have gathered a few ideas to help you jump back into reclaiming your relationships and help you get into community to build your faith.
Join or Create a Small Group
Many churches have some sort of small group initiative. If you aren’t able to find a group that fits what you’re looking for, you can always start and lead your own group!
What Should You Consider When Starting or Joining a Small Group?
- What type of group?
- Would you like to do a bible study or book study? Would you like to have a monthly dinner or brunch? You could join or host a group around a shared interest such as hiking, skiing, movies, or knitting. The possibilities are endless.
- The value of a small group doesn’t always come from the topic of conversation or the curriculum followed. The value comes from getting to know other believers so you are able to build each other up and become a positive and encouraging part of each other’s lives.
- Who are you meeting with?
- You also may want to consider different demographics when joining or starting a group. Are you looking for a group with married couples? Or a group of younger singles? Maybe you are looking for a womens or mens group. Each group you join will offer different values to your life in special ways.
- Where will you meet?
It is important that we note, there are many options for online small groups. If there is one thing 2020 has brought us is the vast use of video call platforms. There is nothing wrong with meeting over video. Conversation can be stewarded just the same as in person. There are even apps you can download to add a little fun into your group through games and other activities that are video call friendly.
You can also consider outside meeting locations as well. Of course that offers limitations with weather but simply getting out for a walk with a small group will fill you up more than you can imagine.
Volunteer Inside or Outside the Church
An excellent way to connect with others and to get in community is to volunteer. Whether it is within the church, your city, or around the world. Volunteering alongside others will grow an amazing bond as you work together towards a common goal.
One of the best ways to get plugged into church or a new community is to be an active part of what is happening. Getting involved through volunteer experience will help you feel ownership and give you an invaluable sense of belonging. Not to mention the good work you will be doing to help in any area you serve.
Attend Church in Person or Online
You may have noticed that the worship experience in your living room isn’t quite the same as the worship experience at church. A big part of that is the community. Worshipping, praying, and learning God’s word along with others is an excellent way to build your faith.
Attending church can also be an excellent opportunity for your children to join a biblical community, make new friends, and have a lot of fun in a safe uplifting environment.
These days there are many ways you can “attend church online” if you need to for any reason. To get the most out of your online church community we encourage you to be active in chats during the service and do your best to foster online relationships with pastors and fellow online attenders. You may even want to host a watch party if you feel more comfortable in smaller groups.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
We believe wholeheartedly that you don’t need to be within a church building to meet and connect with God. However, there is power that comes when two or more are gathered in His name.
Moving Forward in Community
Looking ahead in 2021, we are all praying the health and well being of our world will continue to increase. We have so much to be hopeful for as we move forward. With that said, we encourage you to be intentional with engaging back into biblical community.
Whether in person or online you may be surprised how building relationships will also build your faith!
Connecting You to Christians in Your Area
We are currently building the next generation of Torrch. This platform is designed to help connect you to churches in your area. Whether you are looking to join a small group, find serving opportunities, or attend a service or event, Torrch can get you connected into biblical community!