Building Faith Community
As I’m thinking of how the Apostles felt on this holy feast of the Ascension when Jesus left them, (and anticipating Pentecost!), I’m reflecting on the power of faith community and the Holy Spirit in our lives. From the community of the Trinity, the very first community of man and woman in Genesis, “it is not good for man to be alone”, to the New Testament affirmations, “for where two or more gather in my name, there I am with them,” Matthew 18:20, to Jesus’ example of his small group of disciples; God shows us His design of community.
I have a passion for creating faith community, and have been blessed with many different forms of that community thus far in my young life. To my small college group of women Prayer Pals, where we gathered to journal and pray in our dorm rooms, to my current group of weekly bible study women, (shout out to the transformational Walking with Purpose Study!), and beautiful evening Blessed is She small group gatherings, community has always been a main foundation to my faith. I have made many mistakes and will surely have difficult seasons ahead, but here are some of my learned lessons about building faith community:
- Be intentional. There’s no way to get around this popular buzz word of intention. I’m fully convicted if we don’t purposely put effort into finding and nourishing our faith community, it likely will not happen. Intentionally making a plan to build a faith community in your life is the first step.
- There is a community for everyone. That intentional plan and community will look different for everyone, particularly considering stage of life, individual personality etc. Your community might be 1 or 2 solid Christians who are a dependable phone call or text away to speak truth into your darkness, a formal weekly Bible study, a monthly night out with supportive Christian friends, or shared meals with another Christian family. There is something for everyone, there is something for you, “Seek and you will find,” Matthew 7:7.
- Reality of spiritual warfare. I have learned the hard way the reality of spiritual warfare, magnified during those times when I answer the Lord’s call & set out to do good. I was recently sharing with friends the embarrassing confession of fighting with my husband after hosting a beautiful night of prayer, and they humbly shared similar experiences of depression after a retreat, attacks before leading a marriage ministry etc…Whether its on your search for community, within your community, or within yourself, do not doubt the evil one who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” 1 Peter 5:8. Dismiss the lie that you are too busy, don’t need this right now, or will not wanted or missed. Make a conscious effort to prepare your spiritual weapons, put on the armor of Christ, and remember the Good News! Christ has won the battle and conquered the world. You are His beloved and He cares for your every detail, including the faith community in your personal life.
- Let the Holy Spirit Lead. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to your community. Be specific in your request. If you are in a hard season of business, exhaustion, or isolation, tell Him your desire and ask Him for the grace to keep your eyes open and say yes when an invitation or opportunity arises. Even if its just glancing to see the ad in the church bulletin for the parish moms group or the new bible study, He will bless your reply. Repeating some other great advice I received, if you can’t find what you are searching for, it may be the Holy Spirit prompting you to lead. At this stage in life, my favorite time to gather with Christian women is in the evening when I’m free from distraction of my busy kids. After a year of failing to find that type of community, the Holy Spirit graciously provided every detail for me to make it happen. I found that amazing online Catholic community of Blessed is She just happened to just be starting small group studies and looking for a local leader, my husband was available to help with the kids early bedtime, and we just finished furnishing an ideal space to host in our home. While I’m aware of the reality of the ever-changing young family life, namely the fact that this may all change with another newborn next month!, I’m using my energy now to be thankful and cherish this current blessing. Don’t be afraid of the search, don’t be afraid of the yes. Let the Holy Spirit lead.
- We need each other. We belong to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. No one is exempt. We were all made for community, and “each member belongs to all the others,” Romans 12:4. No matter what your life circumstances at the moment, do not believe the lie that you are meant to do this alone. God has placed people right in front of you, waiting for your yes, waiting to be nourished in faith. We are Christians on the journey, created to gather in faith, created for community.
Shout out to all of the amazing women of faith in my past and present communities, I love you all!
I pray every woman never loses faith, and finds the community they are looking for.
In Joy, Alex