Hi friends! Last week, we talked about how genuine friendships serve to expose the myth of the proverbial “everyone else”. We know that life is busy, so this week we wanted to share our top five tips for building community in the midst of hectic schedules and life stages. We hope you find them helpful!
Join a Group
Join a group that has already been formed and meets regularly. There are so many options for this! Most churches have small groups, Sunday school classes, Bible studies, and women’s groups that meet periodically. You could also join classes at the local rec center. Many offer not only fitness classes but craft nights as well. Better yet, find an organization that matches your passions and volunteer! Relationships built on a foundation of service tend to be unique and special.
Research what is available to determine if anything offered is a fit for your schedule. Be realistic in your expectations. It may take some time to get to know people and feel comfortable. You may not immediately click with everyone, or you might! Either way, part of building friendships is just showing up faithfully, so commit to doing that and see what happens. Finally, if you approach joining a group that is already formed with an attitude of “how can I love and serve these people” vs “what can I gain from this” then you are much more likely to feel engaged and connected.
Create your own Group
At times, it’s truly not possible to find something that fits your schedule. If this is the case, call a friend or two that you’d love to be closer with and set up a girl’s night. Then do that again the next month, and the next. Or ask those friends if they would like to start a Bible study together. For years, Sarah and I could not make it to any of our church’s small groups but we were able to find people in similar situations and meet together for Bible studies when it fit our schedules. Which brings me to my next tip….
Be Willing to Get Together at Odd Times (and to be tired the next day!)
Life.Is.Busy. There’s no getting around it. In order to make community a priority, it’s more than likely that you will need to meet at odd times. When I was part of a monthly Supper Club group, there were months that we got together at 8pm on a Thursday and hung out until at least 11pm because it was the only day that worked for everyone in that particular month. Were we exhausted the next day? FOR SURE. But our hearts were also full and we were closer to Jesus and to each other for having made the time for fellowship and community. It was worth it every single time.
Start by Celebrating Birthdays
Perhaps a monthly or weekly get together just isn’t something either you or your friends can commit to in this season of life. If that’s the case, start by finding out when everyone’s birthday is. Then, as those dates approach, text your friends and suggest getting together for so-and-so’s upcoming birthday. Celebrating birthdays is a great way to foster community because it gives an opportunity to love and serve one another. Also, people tend to more readily commit to a birthday outing because it only comes around once a year (i.e. you can’t just “make it to the next one” the following week). My guess is that if you start by celebrating birthdays, after a while you will all be looking for excuses to get together outside of those dates as well because you’ll be craving the community and fellowship of those nights.
Break Bread Together
There is something about food that brings people together in a way that not many other things can. Whether you have a large house or a small apartment, be willing to invite people over for a meal. It can be super organized or as informal as a group text saying “next Friday at 6 we’d love to have as many of you over as possible! We’ll be here with food – hope you can be as well!”. If possible, put a date on the calendar each month to get together for dinner or lunch as a group. There’s a reason so many churches used to (or maybe still do!) potlucks and post-service coffee and snacks! Food facilitates community and bonding. This was true in the Bible as Jesus ate with His disciples and with “sinners” and it is still true today.
We hope you found these tips helpful! However you cultivate community, we encourage you to make it a priority. We are designed for relationships and our life is much richer when we invest in them.
What is something that has helped you build community? Share in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!