You’re not alone.
Anyone seeking to live out lifelong mission needs a basis for support. There’s always a community here for you on Lifelong Mission. But you’ll also need a network of support right where you are. Just remember: Community is not a luxury, but rather something to actively pursue and develop.
Unfortunately, the word “community” can conjure up images of bland, forced group hangouts or selling everything you own to move to some commune in New Mexico. But Christianity has a rich tradition of practicing true community, and it’s probably not what you think. (It’s not bland, and it doesn’t require hippie status either.)
The earliest Christians committed themselves to community. Immediately after Jesus rose from the dead, we learn that new Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:24). These men and women recognized their need for support, vision, accountability and love.
6 Steps to Building Community
1. Set your sights.
Take some time in prayer and brainstorm about what God wants for you and your community. What are your dreams? To find people who love Jesus and sports? Artsy types? Other young Catholics with kids? Folks who enjoy making meals together? If you’re not sure, ask the Lord to guide you.
2. Pray for community!
Create a list of people and groups with whom you have a connection, then put them on your Depth Chart. Even if these people don’t match your vision of community mates to a T, don’t be afraid to add them to the list. God acts in mysterious ways and might fulfill your desires unexpectedly through these folks.
3. Look for people with whom there is a natural connection.
Now that you are praying for the people in your life, pay attention to those people you really connect with — and then explore how you might deepen those relationships. There is no need to build community in a whole separate social sphere. Start with the Mass you attend or the people you see regularly.
4. Attend or host events on a regular basis.
You’ll want to spend consistent time among the people with whom you’re striving to build a relationship. That might include a parish Bible study, a pancake breakfast, a lecture series or something else.
If there are no parish events that draw “your people,” consider hosting a regular event and invite others to join (watching sports together, hosting an after-Mass brunch, so on).
5. Build trust.
If you really want to get to know the people in your community, it is important that you help people feel safe and give them a positive experience by listening well, asking meaningful questions and talking about things that are meaningful to you and your new friends.
6. Start small.
Remember, you don’t have to have a huge group of people for it to be a nourishing community. Even two or three others is a great start. Getting to know people takes time, so give it some time!
The Church has many movements and organizations which can help build community. Here are a few to check out today: