19. Cultivating Community


Community requires commitment. It takes both God's power and our effort to produce a loving Christian community.

Cultivating community takes honesty.
You will have to care enough to lovingly speak the truth, even when you would rather ignore an issue. Not to say anything you want, wherever and whenever you want: the Bible tells us there is a right time and a right way to do everything. But many church fellowships and small groups remain superficial because they are afraid of conflict. Everyone knows about the problem, but no one talks about it openly.

Cultivating community takes humility.
Self-importance, smugness, and stubborn pride destroy fellowship faster than anything else. Pride builds walls between people; humility builds bridges. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

Cultivating community takes courtesy.
Courtesy is respecting our differences, being considerate of each other's feelings, and being patient with people who irritate us. Community has nothing to do with compatibility; the basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God. Real community happens when people know it is safe enough to share their doubts and fears without being judged.

Cultivating community takes confidentiality.

Only in the safe environment will people open up and share their deepest hurts, needs, and mistakes. It means that what is shared in your group needs to stay in your group, and the group needs to deal with it, not gossip to others about it.

Cultivating community takes frequency.

You must have frequent, regular contact with your group in order to build genuine fellowship. Community is not built on convenience ("we'll get together when I feel like it") but on the conviction that you need it for spiritual health. Relationships require an investment of time. This is why fellowship is so shallow in many churches; we don't spend enough time together, and the time we do spend is usually listening to one person speak.


Question to Consider:       
How can I help cultivate today the characteristics of real community in my small group and my church?


Verse to Remember:

We understand what love is when we realize that Christ gave His life for us. That means we must give our lives for other believers.

1 John 3:16