By Kathryn Featherstone
What have the relationships with people in your church meant to you? Was there a person who brought you a meal when you were sick? a volunteer who you partnered with on multiple occasions? a caring friend who listened to your worries about your children? A church is one of the best places to connect with others in community.
One of my favorite descriptions of the community we aim to experience in the body of Christ is found in Ephesians 4:15–16 (ESV, emphasis added):
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
We want to be part of a community, we need to be part of a community, for several reasons:
- The healthy relationships that blossom out of community help us show love toward each other.
- Being surrounded by community provides the encouragement and guidance we need to grow to become like Christ.
- Community provides the opportunities we need to be engaged infruitful service using our giftedness.
These are things we want for the people in our churches and our ministries!
And they are things we need as leaders, too. As we lead in ministry, we can become very busy with the responsibility of getting things done and creating community for other people. We’re busy with fruitful service.
But we also need to be engaged in real relationships, to receive encouragement to become like Christ, and to experience love from others simply for who we are. Sometimes we’re so focused on using our giftedness in the programs we lead that we begin to miss out on the benefits of the community we’re trying so hard to build.
Leaders need community! With community, we can open ourselves not only to giving in our relationships but also to receiving. This allows us to receive encouragement, support, accountability, and gives us the opportunity to experience authentic relationships beyond our ministry roles. Being part of a healthy community also helps us continue to grow in Christ and gives us a sort of resiliency when it comes to dealing with the stresses of ministry.
Here are a few ideas for becoming connected in community as a leader:
- Prioritize time to have coffee with an encouraging friend on a regular basis, despite being busy!
- Consider becoming an attendee of a small group rather than leading one. This will allow you to spend time with a group in the role of community member rather than leader.
- Seek out a mentor or spiritual friend for monthly conversations, even if you need to talk on the phone rather than in person.
- Get involved in an activity you enjoy where you don’t have a leadership role, whether it’s within your church or your broader community.
- Develop leaders within your ministry and delegate responsibilities so that you move toward serving together as a team.
When we live in connection with a healthy community, we can be more authentic and effective in creating community for others. Let’s be intentional to create time for relationships and invite a few trusted people into closer community!
As this new year begins, what steps will you take to pursue healthy relationships and to be connected in community?
Kathryn Featherstone is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and a board-certified Christian Life Coach. Get to know her more at livealifeoflove.org.
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