But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
At the end of every service at our church, the pastor gives a benediction- this is a churchy way of saying encouragement. This encouragement sends us into the world with the promise that God’s Word and His Spirit go with us. This is one of my favorite liturgical traditions because it empowers me, as a small part in the larger church body, to go and do my part to love God and care for His people through my relationships.
So here is my benediction for you!
You have read through a variety of convicting, encouraging, and inspiring anecdotes that hopefully have imparted to you the principles of growing rooted community. If you’re like me, you just added ten new things to your to-do list and you are already planning your next gathering. If you are like other, less Type A or less prone to attempt all possible alternatives, you may feel so overwhelmed by the idea and topics discussed that you decide to forget it and keep doing your own thing. I hope we can find a healthy balance somewhere in between the extremes. Here’s a couple starting points that won’t take you to hyperventilation.
1. Try practicing one new community rhythm
If I am realistic, only attempting to add one new habit instead of 4 at once is the only way I can sustain change in my life. If you loved the idea of Cake Day, then maybe begin your own monthly cake/pie/ice cream/veggie tray celebration with friends. If you feel led to invest more time in long-distance friends, then find a time each week that works for you to call a friend on your drive home from work.
Let’s start the one practice that commits us to being a better friend and helps us gain some consistency in our relationships.
2. Open up your Bible more often
Ha! Yes! Of course we should. This is the second best answer to any church question behind “Jesus.” Maybe because it’s scary simple: reading God’s words is the only way to know Him and become like Him. Boom. Mic drop. Reading Scripture is the primary way we mature in our faith and are able to encourage others with Godly wisdom (read M is for Mature). Ultimately, serving our communities is more than just serving homemade brownies, it means living and teaching God’s Word.
3. Bring joy with you often and in abundance
One of the best description of community comes from Acts 2:42-47. In this passage the author describes this divine community as people who were receiving their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and finding favor with all the people. Hanging out together is life-giving, but do we often end our hang out time giving praise back to God? Are we thanking Him for providing friendship and Cake Day and popcorn? A characteristic of rooted community is becoming people who are filled with praise despite the good and bad.
Remember, you are a member of a CHOSEN race, a ROYAL priesthood, a HOLY nation, and God’s FAMILY. You are not insignificant to your friend group! You are a unique representation of God and you proclaim His excellencies with your own story. You are a light and you love your community of friends by the way you live out the gospel. Don’t allow the enemy to keep you apathetic or disillusioned with God-centered friendships. Be encouraged knowing the Lord “adds to their number daily those who are being saved” (Acts 2:47) through authentic rooted community.
Questions for Your Community:
What fears keep you from moving forward in friendships?
What qualities of community are described in 1 Peter 2:9?
How can your friends leave a mark of God’s love where you live?
Go! Start! Do! God wouldn’t call you to something He hadn’t equipped you to do. So take a leap and start doing that one new thing to build your community.