by Larissa Traquair
God started building my “tribe” way before I knew what was happening. I am an extrovert – I love being around people. They give me energy and they make everything more fun, including running errands. Building community comes naturally for me but I know that is not the case for everyone.
You don’t have to be an extrovert to make friends and you don’t have to have a lot of friends to build a community. God calls us all to gather together but it doesn’t happen by accident – it happens intentionally and by God’s design.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT)
Whether you call it a tribe or a community, coming together as a collective body is what God created us to do.
The good news is that doing community ROCKS when done well and intentionally with Jesus at the center of it all.
Here are a few benefits that healthy communities yield:
- Fellowship and fun
- A place to share hurts and praises
- A great way to grow and be inspired
The bad news is building a healthy community is hard. It is messy and seriously not fun at times. People will get their feelings hurt and you may too. People will choose to walk away and others will be pulled out by God. But, God will help us in the messy middle to build community through healthy friendships as we stay connected to him.
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! (Romans 12:14-16 NLT)
As I have struggled with others in my communities, I came across this old Texas saying that is a great reminder: “You cannot make everyone happy. You’re not a taco.” It’s a silly saying but it’s a great reminder that there will be people who don’t want to build community with us and we need to be ok with that.
How to Build Community Through Friendships:
Building community is a messy adventure that is so worth it. None of us are perfect so we should not expect our communities to be perfect either. I have found that the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Getting to do life with the amazing people God puts in your sphere of influence is worth every effort you make. Just keep Jesus at the center of it all.
- Be unoffendable. You will not always agree with everyone in your community and you are bound to offend someone at some point. Learn to not take things personally and get comfortable with being uncomfortable as you work things out.
- Look to Jesus for your example of doing community well. Jesus stayed connected to God. We need to do the same through prayer and digging into his word. Jesus knew his purpose and yielded in obedience to God. Every opportunity is an opportunity to love others and invite them into your community.
- Be the one who invites people in. This is usually everyone’s least favorite part as it sets you up for rejection. Invite anyway. It is a risk you need to be willing to take. Invite and you will see your community grow.
- Forgive others who have not invited you or who have hurt you along the way. Just because one military woman hurt your feelings doesn’t mean every military woman is going to hurt you. Forgive and move forward.
Think about ways you can improve your community-building skills by applying one of the tips listed. What tip would you add to this list?
Lord, thank you for creating us to build community and all the benefits we get to enjoy as we do life with sweet friends. Help us learn to be unoffendable and to look to Jesus as our example. Thank you for wanting to use us to love others. Show us who to invite into our community and help us to love them well. In Jesus’ name, Amen!