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The word “community” has become a buzzword in church culture. How do we build it? Do we have it? What does community even mean? What does it look like? All questions that many a church leader has asked (and that we’re asking as we’re getting ready to launch small groups at our church) at some point. Because, unless you’re a recluse who orders all of her wares on drugstore.com and happily never sees the light of day, we all crave deep, meaningful relationships and choosing to live in community with other people is the perfect way to meet that need. But living in community costs us something as well.
The purest form of community means no one walks through their darkest valleys alone. It means there’s a shoulder to cry on, another voice lifted in prayer when your need becomes too difficult to speak aloud, and a listening ear when you just have to vent. Quite frankly, sometimes it’s difficult to do those things for someone, and other times its hard to allow someone to do them for you–because, in both instances, it costs something. Sometimes it costs a lot.
It costs us our privacy and our independent “I can do it myself, thank-you-very-much” pride, and requires us to be vulnerable in a way that can be incredibly uncomfortable when we’re hurting. It requires us to allow someone to come in close, to see the pain, the ugliness that we’d rather hide and pretend doesn’t exist.
I was part of a community of wonderful friends several years ago that quite literally saved my life. It cost me all of the things I just talked about to be in relationship with them, but it cost them something as well. It cost them emotional time and energy as well as time to be available as they walked with me through a very dark and difficult season.
To be honest, sometimes I’m not willing to pay the price to live in relationship with people. Sometimes it costs too much–too much time, too much energy. Too. Much. But I have to remind myself it’s worth every sacrifice, every ounce of effort when you emerge with a friend that knows you–really knows you–and loves you no matter what. That’s the true cost of community, and it’s well worth the price tag.
How has living in community impacted your life?
How has paying the price to be in community affected you? Please feel free to leave a comment!