I spent this past week with new friends and colleagues, a community beginning an exciting academic journey together. Over the coming years we’ll share classes, but will also support and uphold one another as we get through forms, assignments, struggles, celebrations. We will share ideas, questions, and our lives and ministries as we do our best to maintain this community despite distance, difference, and busy lives. This course also requires us to establish and maintain an intentional support community from our unique ministry contexts, which will surround us in prayer, support, direction and challenging conversation.
Community is something that we should all strive toward creating and fostering. Our many communities can at times overlap; for example, one of my new classmates is chair of a committee I’m blessed to serve on, another is someone whose blogs I read.
I think a balance of (healthy) communities is a good thing; allowing us capacity to benefit from the networking that we do. Work, ministry, social life, family – these are all communities of folks who journey with us through life’s challenges and celebrations. By having many communities, we find like-minded people who will understand and appreciate our perspectives and circumstances, in appropriate context and depth and relationship.
In order to benefit from these communities, however, we first have to HAVE these communities. It doesn’t always just happen, though, we have to seek them out. As community, we have opportunity to listen to someone else without needing to tell our own story, to support and uphold someone through difficulties despite our own agenda, to celebrate another’s success even on our own bad day. It’s what community does; we journey together, for the benefit of all.
We have the precedent for it; throughout the scriptures we are reminded of the importance of being in community – from Adam and Eve in Genesis through to the multitude of heavenly host in the Revelation. Community involvement is important, worthwhile, scriptural, and invites us to offer the world the very best version of ourselves that is possible.
Our challenge, then, is to continually be inspired to maintain community; to have good friends, and to be a good friend. To seek out relationships that will encourage us to grow and mature, as well as to encourage others to the same. The specifics of each community are, in my opinion, secondary to the reality and actualisation of that community.
What community allows you to be the truest form of you that God has gifted the planet with? How do you build community?