Outreach Canada Website
/ Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Looking for community in your church?
Over the last year and half, we've had to be innovative and adaptable in the ways we attend church and connect with our church communities. And it has looked differerent from province to province, from church to church, and sometimes even from week to week.
As we head into the future, and to our own versions of 'normal', how will you be intentional about experiencing & participating in community in your church?
We’ve asked our Outreach Canada team how they’ve experienced community in their churches in the past, and what tips they have for others who are looking for community. Our hope is that their answers will spark both your imagination and your excitement to be involved in your church community!
Church Community Experiences & Practical Tips!
Here are the two questions we asked our Outreach Canada team:
- How have you experienced community in your church?
- Do you have a practical tip for others who may be looking for community in their church?
Here are their responses:
Praying together; serving meals together; singing together; delivering food hampers together.
TIP: Serve others. Always focus on others. In so doing, God serves you. This is not about "what you can get out of it" but rather "what you can contribute".
No experience compares to our annual weekend retreat at Camp Homewood where we live and learn together, share meals and stories together, and play and pray together. Our time together at camp forms the basis for the relationships we develop during the rest of the year.
TIP: Don't wait for someone else to make the first move. Every connection you make, every act of hospitality, every effort to care for others in the church will help to build the community that Christ longs for us to have. Initiate with people who are different from you. The greater the diversity in the body, the more Christ is evident to the onlooking world. "See how they love one another."
So many over the years, but one from when we were young newlyweds and shared a prayer request about needing a vehicle to get to work. That same night someone who heard our prayer gave us their car.
TIP: Find a place to join in. Volunteer to help with one of the programs/ministries or join a small group.
By the love and embrace of my pastor and a few church members helping me in some personal struggles
TIP: Reach out for help!
TIP: You start by practicing two things. 1. Forgiveness - because we are all flawed and complicated people and we do not live up to our core values always. 2. Celebration - We celebrate the gift that others bring to the table.
I am always starting or being part of small community groups.
TIP: Be proactive and start a group with others you want to be with.
Small Groups! When I connect with smaller groups of people to study the Bible, share our lives, eat and pray together, that is when I have experienced true community.
TIP: Take a risk! Try jumping into something outside of Sunday Services. It might be a bit awkward at first, and you might have to try a few different things, but eventually the awkwardness gives way into genuine relationships.
Through our small group which meets biweekly, now on Zoom, but originally in homes.
TIP: Be willing to reach out to those you don't know, introduce yourself and get to know those you likely sit next to every week in church. Keep notes on the names and important details of those you meet so you can begin building a true relationship of care and concern.
People have walked alongside us in prayer and all sorts of supportive ways as we have tried to follow God, raise our family, and generally make our way in life.
TIP: Initiate. Community is an action - get involved with people through serving in a ministry or joining a small group. Community can't happen in a vacuum...
Being part of a Life Group via Zoom is the only regular connection I've had with church people through all these months of COVID restrictions. Livestream Sunday services doesn't allow interaction.
TIP: Get into a Life Group, or other smaller group (i.e. Bible Study, prayer meeting, serving in specific ministry or outreach of the church) where you can get to know others.
When the difficult word is given that I need to hear
TIP: If you want community, be the catalyst.
Through small groups; there are two groups of people, those who do the inviting, and those who are invited. The inviters need to encouraged to reach out beyond their current circle in order for others to find community. It can not be forced, but must be allowed to happen organically.
TIP: Having access in some way to the geographical location of others in the church is of benefit to far-spread congregations. We once had a "community in the parking lot" event, where people from each suburb were brought together.
In the larger context, when we are working together on something, but usually in smaller groups: mission trips, sunday school class, etc.
TIP: Get involved, be hospitable and make space for people/relationships in your life.
I've experienced community when I was part of a life group at our church. This was quite a few years ago, before I joined a men's group outside of our church.
TIP: Consider joining a life group in your church.
Receiving honest and constructive advice
TIP: Take the bold step to initiate deep and meaningful dialogue and create relationship of interdependence.
Small groups founded on mutual interests, NOT assigned groups by church leadership according to arbitrary criteria.
TIP: Find one friend and start there. Share and come together on the basis of a range of interests and needs not simply a 'meeting'. Guys especially ... DO things together not simply gather.
In small groups, particularly bible study, mission and working groups.
I have experienced community in my church by praying together, eating together, studying the Word together, helping each other, and praising the goodness of the Lord and celebrating together.
TIP: My practical tip for others who may be looking for community in their church is to START IT. If you feel there's something missing, go do it. Sometimes our communities are week and lost and we were put there for a reason. Soon you'll see why Love is the most powerful energy of the world. Lastly, remember that is a community of humans and not of "Jesusus"... you will be let down, hurt and betrayed because we are our spiritual strength. Don't let the enemy have your way with you too by taking offense or walking away.
Spending time with people. Serving in various ministries. Monthly pot-luck meals after the service. Life Groups (small groups) are a great way to share life together with a group of people.
TIP: Don't wait for someone to ask you to join a group. Take a risk and get involved. It is too easy to just be a bystander.
Through community groups - however, this has not always been a good experience, sometimes people are only community while part of the group and it does not extend beyond that … conversely one of my lifelong friends was from a community group.
TIP: Be authentic, authenticity is a breath of fresh air in the social media saturated world we live in, being yourself is a breath of fresh air.
Yes, our church is quite small and close knit.
TIP: Be willing to be honest and vulnerable. We have the tendency to want to put on our "church face" when we head to church, but being honest about how we are feeling is an important part of building honest relationships.
We hope these personal experiences and tips from our Outreach Canada team encourage and inspire you as you look for ways to initiate and participate in community in your church!
If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out "Community in the Neighbourhood", where our OC team shares personal experiences and tips about finding community in your neighbourhood!