A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post all about why Christian community is so important. Now, because Christian community really is so important I want to explore some other questions about it – a little mini series to help those people who are looking for community, whether as a new Christian or because you’ve moved to a new area, or have been forced to leave a previous community for whatever reason.
So, if you are looking for a new Christian community, I think an important question to reflect upon is what that community should look like. This is important for two reasons, firstly so that we know what we’re looking for. Even if all of these attributes aren’t fully there, hopefully you will be able to see the potential for this to be the kind of community you are a part of.
Secondly, knowing what Christian community should look like helps us to know how we should act. No community will be perfect, so we want to act in a way that reflects the kind of community we want to be a part of.
So, what should Christian community look like?
When you are looking for a Christian community, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be too focused upon finding a group of people that think exactly like you. Whilst to some degree you will naturally find like-minded Christians, you don’t want to be in an echo-chamber, where you’re views are never challenged and you can’t grow through discussions and debates.
However, I do think that you should look for a community that believes that the Bible is the word of God. This is a baseline from which you can have those discussions, debates, conversations, and explore different topics together. If you are part of a community that doesn’t believe what is written in the Bible, you don’t have this basis. You don’t have that starting point. It also means that, in a church context, what you are being taught won’t be based upon the Bible in the way that it should be, which can lead you in any direction because it doesn’t come back to the word of God.
Bold, but bendable
No these aren’t all going to begin with B… although it is kind of fun.
A great thing about Christian community is that we can call each other out, correcting each other when we have done something wrong. This is a really important part of how we point each other back to Christ. So, when we’re looking for a Christian community we want to see a community that is able to speak boldly, that isn’t afraid to speak up and correct us.
But we also want to see a community that is open to correction. We want to be surrounded by people who will respond lovingly to correction and who actually want to become better so will therefore take on board what we have to say when we call them out. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they will change immediately and never do anything wrong again, that just doesn’t tend to be human nature.
When I talk about finding a diverse Christian community, I mean this in a whole range of different ways. There are some communities where you will naturally find just one group of people – at student churches for example, there will be a much larger group of students than of any other age; and geographically, if you live in an area where the vast majority of people are of one ethnicity, it would be normal to see a large proportion of the community also being that ethnicity. But I think the diversity that you do see in a community points towards how welcoming it is, how accessible it is, how open it is.
Does your community include people of different ethnicities? Does your community include disabled people? Does your community include people of different ages & life stages: single people, married couples, families with children, families without children, families with grown up children, children, teenagers, young adults, retirees, the elderly?
Maybe your community doesn’t include every single one of these examples (that’s quite a large group of people), but would any of these people be able to be welcomed into your community without feeling like an outsider? Diversity is such a wonderful way that we learn from one another and learn together. Different people bring different skills, different gifts, different experiences, different stories to share.
Weeps with you, celebrates with you
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”Romans 12:15
Does your community care about you and support you in both the good times and the bad? What does it do to celebrate the good times – birthdays, results days, pregnancies & new babies? How does it support those in need within the community – those who are mourning, those who are ill, those who are suffering?
Do you see a community that cares about both of these things?
This is perhaps the most important one to remember. Every Christian community you find, will be broken. Because it is made up of broken people – we are all sinners, and none of us are perfect. Mix a whole bunch of broken people together, and you will get a broken community.
Don’t let this be something that pushes you away from community. Christian community is still so important and valuable in our Christian walk. Where we see specific problems, lets work as part of the community to be a part of the change we want to see.
What is your favourite thing about your Christian community?
If you want to find out more about Christian community, you can watch our video here:
Other blog posts you might enjoy…
- What to do when God doesn’t answer your prayers
- Creative Prayer Ideas for Thanking God
- 4 tips for praying for other people