If you’ve worked in ministry at any level, you’ve most likely heard these phrases about community: “My community isn’t meeting my needs!”; “I just don’t connect with them.”; “We don’t have enough in common.” 

These phrases exist because our expectation and ambition for community tends to be distorted by our consumeristic culture.

× Community IS NOT Jesus.

We cannot expect community to satisfy our souls.  The people around us are important and designed to be a gift, but they are not supposed to save you: not from loneliness, not from pain, not from fear, not from death, not from insecurity.

Tweet this: The people around you are designed to be a gift, but they are not supposed to save you. #vergewomen

× Community IS NOT about bff’s.

We all want to like the people around us.  We want them to have personalities and a sense of humor that mesh with you. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but community in the family of God has to transcend personality.  Biblical community is family.  And we don’t pick family.

God picked His family.  He adopted us and the people around us, making them your sisters and brothers. We don’t get to send them back.  We don’t get to ignore them if they don’t mesh well.  They’re our family.

Tweet this:  God picked His family.  We don’t get to send them back. #vergewomen

Our expectations of community are off because our ambitions for community are off.  We link arms with people who love Jesus no matter how different and no matter how annoying because our goal isn’t a great coffee date, it’s a community to move us and the kingdom of God forward.

× Community exists to persevere one another.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV)

Tweet this: But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today. #community #vergewomen

There’s a problem that the writer is warning the Hebrew church about: ‘an evil unbelieving heart that leads them to fall away from the living God.’  ‘But’ or ‘instead’ of letting that happen, they should do something: exhort one another every day as long as it is called today that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

In other words: if you belong to God, then He has ordained the means of your perseverance: community that ‘exhorts’ you or speaks truth in love to you – helping you not be led astray by your unbelief.

Community does exist ‘for you’ in one sense: to challenge you and push on you and teach you to see sin in your heart so that you aren’t deceived.

Tweet this: Community does exist ‘for you’ in one sense. #vergewomen

× Community exists to move the kingdom of God forward.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  (John 17:20-21 ESV)

Jesus’ prayer: we would be one.  We would be unified .  Why? So that the world may believe in Jesus.

That’s crazy.  Jesus just said that He wants us to be unified with other believers and he wants that unity to be visible to unbelievers so that they come to know Jesus.  He thinks that seeing you and I love each other will lead people to believe in Him.  Crazy.

Processing Questions

Take some time to process through these questions with God and with the people around you.

  • What are some expectations that you believe might be godly for you and your community?
  • Do you often feel let down by people?  Or do you try to expect nothing from people?  What does it look like to have healthy expectations without putting your hope in people?
  • How would you define ‘successful community’?  How do you think Jesus defines successful community?