Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day Five: How Do We Do Community Well?

 Doing Community Well is so important because we were created to be in relationships with people. God did not create us and put us here on earth to be alone – or to do life alone.

The answer to “How We Do Community Well” is not a short one.  For today’s purposes though, I will answer this question simply:

Doing community well requires being intentional about relationships – our new relationships and our long-term relationships.  Doing Community Well means that we not only show up in a community but that we encourage, support, love, and provide in and through our communities.  Doing community well requires a commitment on our part – a sacrifice of time done joyfully and consistently.  As with many things, the right attitude toward community and our reliability will help us do community well.   

What I love about doing community well is that this can happen every day, doing our normal, daily living.  We just have to be creative on some days and other days, community will just happen naturally.

I referred to 3 types of communities in my post from yesterday:  There are communities that naturally come together; communities that are created out of a need or desire; and then there are communities we find ourselves in through a painful experience that we never would have chosen for ourselves.

Natural communities come together without a lot of effort.  However, we still have to be intentional in this community to keep it healthy and evolving.  One example would be co-workers deciding to go to lunch together; or working out together before or after work.  Or meeting new people at church that you feel comfortable with and you start seeing them at other church functions or you run into them at the grocery store during the week.  At some point, someone decides that they want to see you outside of the natural environment that brought you together and they invite you to do community with them through dinner or attending another function. This happened to me many years ago with a friend who shared my love for scrap booking.  We decided to shop at a locally owned craft store that offered us the ability to show up on any given day and utilize their crafting area to work on our scrap books. While we were there we connected with two other scrap bookers and we decided that we would keep showing up, on the same day of the week, to enjoy our craft together.  This led to each of us inviting more friends and so we grew from 2 to 12 or more on any given Thursday. We started going out to lunch on our crafting day; then we started going to lunch or went to see a movie on a different day of the week. This went on for several years until some of us moved away and our crafting store closed.  The fun part is that several of us are still friends today – all because of our love for scrap booking.  As a matter-of-fact, as I type this, one of those faithful friends is here visiting us with her husband.  Our love for paper crafting turned into a friendship that has survived time and distance and our husbands became friends because of our connection through our hobby.  Community done well equals lifetime friends!

Then there are the communities that are created out of a need or desire.  This happens when you are looking for a specific group like people who knit, or people who like to play basketball, or who have children the same age as yours.  You desire to gather together more “formally” so you create a knitting group that meets once a week or once a month to work on your yarn projects and talk.  Or, you create a basketball team out of your friends, neighbors or church members and you practice together weekly and compete in tournaments together.  Or, you suggest a few of you get together with your similarly-aged kids to go on a hike or visit an amusement park.  Community done well includes our families!

Probably the least favorite community, but one that could create the longest lasting relationships, are communities that come together due to painful experiences.  A recent cancer diagnosis finds you attending a support group for caregivers of cancer patients.  Or, you find yourself married to an Alzheimer patient and you start to meet weekly with a group of spouses that are in the same boat where you discuss healthy coping mechanisms when dealing with a forgetful spouse and all the ins and outs of that reality.  In our neighborhood we had a house explode back in February of this year and our community jumped right in to support the families that were affected.  God showed up in a lot of amazing ways and I will have a chance to share those stories with you all in future posts during our 31 days together.  I am even going to interview one of the families, via Periscope, so you can hear their story directly from them.  This family would not have chosen losing their house and yet they have seen how God has created beauty out of ashes – literally!  Community done well helps members heal!

No matter how a community comes together, some things are common within healthy communities:

Community is a support network.
Community helps us celebrate.
Community cries with us so we don’t cry alone.
Community makes life more fun.
Communities are resourceful.

Do you do community well?  If so, how?  If not, what are you willing to do to change that?


Sharon said...

You presented this so well! You made me want to be a part of community again! My work seems to have stolen that opportunity from me. Asking me what I'm going to do about it leaves me wondering that myself. Thank you!

Laura Mitchell said...

"a sacrifice of time done joyfully and consistently" I love that you included the word joyfully here! I love being in community with others that actually love it as well and don't treat me as a check off! Loved your post!

Kelly S said...

These are some great insights! I like thinking about how groups formed... and therefore not feeling horrible if some groups don't last forever, but perhaps just met a need for a season.

Cherie Froelich said...

We are very blessed to belong to a small group from our church that we "do life with". It is so good to take care of one another, pray for each other, and live life together. Community makes all the difference!

Tara Ulrich said...

Being in community with others is such a gift especially when done well. I love the communities that have blessed me and that I'm a part of. We are indeed made to be in relationship.