I love good fellowship. Hanging out with friends, asking honest questions, giving honest answers. It’s fun, encouraging and edifying. It always feels good to know that people love you, despite your flaws. True relationship is hard to build but so worth it.
This is what Rick Warren says about it in The Purpose Driven Life:
If you’re tired of fake fellowship and you would like to cultivate real fellowship and a loving community in your small group, Sunday school class, and church, you’ll need to make some tough choices and take some risks.
Cultivating community takes honesty. “No more lifes, no more pretense. Tell your neighbour the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.” Eph 4:25
Cultivating community takes humility. I love this definition of humility: Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
Cultivating community takes courtesy. Courtesy is respecting our differences, being considerate of each other’s feelings, and being patient with people who irritate us… The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: We’re family.
Cultivating community takes confidentiality. Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality will people open up and share their deepest hurts, needs, and mistakes. Confidentiality does not mean keeping silent while your brother or sister sins. It mean that what is shared in your group needs to stay in your group, and the group needs to deal with it, not gossip to others about it.
This chapter has given me some great nuggets of wisdom to use in my day to day. Basically, to cultivate community, we need to put our insecurities aside and trust God in relationships, allow Him to lead and follow His ways.
TPDL Question to Consider: How can I help cultivate today the characteristics of real community in my small group and my church?
The only small group I’m leading at the moment is a playgroup. It’s an outreach arm of the church but is kept quite separate. I’m learning that honesty is a key. If something doesn’t seem quite right, ask. If something is bothering me, speak up.
Do you lead a small group? Do you feel like you’ve cultivated a community well? How did you do it?
PLEASE NOTE: Quotations in this and other posts relating to The Purpose Driven Life (usually entitled Day:?) are sourced from The Purpose Driven Life book by Rick Warren unless otherwise stated. This is an independant study and is based on my opinion and experience only. Copies of The Purpose Driven Life book are available for purchase from all good christian books stores, including Koorong. The first seven chapters of the book can be downloaded FREE from Rick Warren’s official site here.