Don’t worry; I’m not going to make you join a small group.
I mean, these suggestions involve small groups of people, which is what community is, or can be – but you can leave your worries about the overburdened phrase “doing life together” or awkward, housebound meet-and-greets at the door. That’s not quite what we’re after here. What I want to do in particular with this post is to offer some ideas for Christian community that might really spark some interesting connections and relationships – the kind of deep ones I feel many of us are all too often lacking. Why not give some of these a try?
- A book club. Once a month, get together with some local believers to chat about a book. This is beneficial because it can a) lead to relationships with believers outside your church and/or denomination, b) can occur just about anywhere (a beloved local cafe! a room reserved at the library!) and c) the kind of books you choose can really set the tone for what you want the book club and its members to be (are you a thoughtful Henri Nouwen group? a humorous, convivial Jon Ortberg one? an honest, intellectual Philip Yancey gathering? The sky’s the limit!)
- A neighborhood prayer group. Advertise on Nextdoor or Facebook or Twitter for local Christians in your neighborhood to meet together at a consistent weekly time to pray for each other, for your area, or whatever strikes your fancy. This can give you some local Christian relationships, and bonding together with others in prayer can really create relationships that are special indeed.
- A mixed-demo hobby or skill group: Start an all-are-welcome hobby group for those who might be interested. Volunteer to teach knitting, or a foreign language, or cooking, or whatever strikes your fancy: this gives everyone something to focus on and it invites multi-generational groups to make connections too.
- A technology-detox circle. Need some help staying off Twitter and Facebook? Are you one of those believers who’s sworn to actually get back to the business of living life away from your phone? Do it together. Hold each other accountable and then get together every week or so to have coffee and…well, share photos of your grandkids/cats/cool flowers you saw, and talk about random life events or that sunset you saw, or a hobby you’re going to pick up. You know, do all the stuff you do on the internet, but with actual people in an actual place.
- A super-specific ministry group. Get some folks together and go clean up litter at your local park every week. Or buy and deliver coffee to some folks in need. Knit baby hats for newly expectant mothers. Go work on a home improvement project for someone who can’t do it themselves. Find a ministry idea that is a) specific, b) repeatable, and c) enjoyable with more hands, and then get to it.
There are tons of other ideas. Fellowship need not be a reductive concept, and this is a wonderful place to start – with the things that can help build actual relationships and, maybe most importantly, will probably call out to others seeking for community, too. You’re not alone; there’s a place to belong, even if we have to create it ourselves.