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I sat on the patio of a local coffee shop one morning writing this post. In the corner a group of moms gathered to visit about kids and life with one another. (Really, I wasn’t eavesdropping! I actually know them.) Inside a couple of other women sat facing one another on a couch, sipping coffee and talking. And I arrived earlier that morning to meet two of my friends for our Friday morning outing.
Yes, there were a few there with earbuds in, working on their laptops. But they could have done that at home. So why sit and work at a coffee shop, aside from the great coffee? Let’s face it, we can brew it at home for a lot less.
Yet coffee shops across America fill with groups and individuals—laughing, talking, or working. And I think I know at least one reason. Because we all have a deep longing for community. (OK, and coffee.)
Community and Connection with God
The Trinity exemplifies what it is to live in perfect community—as One, yet with distinct roles. And like God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are designed us to live in community .
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ (Genesis 1:26a)
We are created in His image, therefore, as His image bearers we have both an intimate relationship with Him and others. Consider how Paul addresses the function of the church:
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5)
Why We Need Community
1. Living in community refines us.
How can we say we love if we never have to love the hard-to-love person? If we never face forgiving the ones who don’t think they were wrong?
What if the Holy Spirit didn’t confront us with our own sinful nature as we interact with our brothers and sisters? And who would challenge us?
Even when we gather together as Christians we face these issues. Because we all still have that old sin nature. But we don’t have to act out of it. We have a choice, and as we exercise the love of Christ with one another we become more like Him. We mature. Living in isolation will never grow you as living in community will.
Just consider what James said,
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)
And Paul in Galatians:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (6:1)
2. Living in community refreshes us.
But Paul didn’t stop there. He continues. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (6:2) He also told the Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
What a gift from our loving Father. To give us one another to cheer, to help, to comfort, and love.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, emphasis added)
We cannot encourage one another in this Christian journey if we don’t make the effort to live in community.
3. Living in community helps us to know we aren’t alone.
It gives us the courage to stand in an ever growing hostile environment. For someone to “get us” and the decisions we’ve made for our family.
Do you remember the childhood game Red Rover? I was a small, skinny kid so the other team would inevitably send someone running straight for me. But in Red Rover, we hold tightly to one another’s hands. And when we stand by someone a little stronger in that moment, that bond isn’t easily broken. Even when the “opposition” runs straight for us.
And so it is true with us. When we live in community with other believers (and especially believing homeschoolers), opposition to our decisions may still come—but we have someone to help withstand it.
How we long for like-minded friends.
Of course that doesn’t mean we don’t have friends who differ from us, who think and act and believe differently. But we need other Christians in our lives to share on a level that isn’t possible without this common bond— a spiritual bond often stronger even than blood. And what a blessing if you have both.
I know some of you long for like-minded friends and just can’t seem to find them. Maybe you are new to an area. Or maybe you just haven’t found your people yet. But don’t give up hope, sweet mama.
Remember community starts with you.
1. Begin with prayer.
Be honest with God about how you are feeling and what you desire. Ask Him to give you eyes to see opportunities for friendships. To bring a like-minded friend into your life.
2. Be a positive person.
People tend to shy away from us when we complain and grumble all the time. Or when we speak negatively about others. But they are drawn to people who focus on the good and beautiful and positive things in life. To those who look for the best in others.
3. Focus on others.
Look for the needs of other believers and help meet them. Paul admonishes us,
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
But he doesn’t stop there. As the passage continues he tells the church at Philippi what that entails: to have the same attitude—the same mind—as Christ. One of humility.
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)
In his short but powerful book, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy, Timothy Keller explains it this way,
This is gospel-humility, blessed self forgetfulness. Not thinking more of myself as in modern cultures, or less of myself as in traditional cultures. Simply thinking of myself less. [emphasis added]
4. Take initiative.
I know this isn’t always easy (especially for the introverts!), but we have to be the ones to step out. Go sit by someone new or a person you’ve seen over-and-over but never talked to. Invite others to your home, or out to lunch, or for coffee. Community doesn’t just happen. We have to create it.
Practical Tips for Creating the Community Your Soul Craves
1. Join a co-op or form one.
Some friends and I started meeting together as a small co-op and continued for 12 years. And although it was in part for our kids, it was just as much for us. We worked together to teach each Friday and enjoyed eating lunch together. We planned regular “Moms’ Night Outs” where we met for supper without the kids. (And even now that several of us have graduated our children, we still get together to have supper every few months.)
Today you might hear it referred to as finding your tribe. It may not be easy, but it is worth it. Our tribe definitely had it’s difficulties along the way. You just can’t work together that many years and not experience conflict. But that was the beauty of it too. For the good of our children and us, we couldn’t just walk away. We had to work through it. Remember, community matures us.
2. Start an in-home Bible study for homeschooling moms.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or perfect. Hire an older teen to watch younger ones in another room or outside. You can use a pre-printed study or simply,
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
That’s what we do. I have a group of ladies (though at this time they aren’t homeschoolers) that meets in my home once a week. We choose a book of the Bible and break it down into weekly reading. Each person studies it in her own way, and then we gather around my kitchen table and share what we have learned. Yes, I facilitate the study, preparing some discussion questions, but we teach one another. And then we share what is going on in our lives and prayer requests.
Community around the Word and prayer is powerful.
3. Show hospitality.
Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly decorated or perfectly clean. You don’t have to serve a full, from-scratch, homemade meal. The main purpose of hospitality is building relationship with others. Perfection is not required.
So have game nights and movie nights. Let the whole family join in. Order pizza if you want! But invite people into your home—the place real connection happens.
Connecting Through the Word, Prayer, and Community
I hope you—my online community—have been encouraged through this “Connecting Series”.
Homeschooling is incredible and wonderful and difficult all at the same time. But we don’t want to neglect our spiritual life in pursuit of our children’s education. Because homeschooling is about the whole child—heart, mind, and soul. And it is about the whole you too.
Let’s strive to be in His Word, wrap it all in prayer, individually and in community. May we follow the example of the first Church,
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)
If you would like to read the other ways to connect to God, check out the previous posts in the series:
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.
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