“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day the continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
-Acts 2:42-47 (NIV, emphasis added)
Luke paints a picture of a vibrant, living church—one that has active fellowship, hold things in common, and eats together. It’s important to remember that we were not created to go through life alone–in the garden Adam is in perfect communion with God but it’s still “not good” so God creates a companion for him. It’s also important to remember that we were not meant to walk through this faith journey alone.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”-Hebrews 10:24-25
The Hebrew writer emphasized the reason we meet together is so that we may encourage each other as we walk in the light.
It is imperative that congregations foster a sense of community–after all that is what we are. In his book The Indispensable Guide for Smaller Churches, David R. Ray provides several ways in which we may do just that:
1.Develop ways to help everyone know everyone else’s name and to know something about everyone else.
2. Photo Directory–Name, address, phone number, birthday, etc.
3. Make and utilize permanent name tags–have disposable name tags for guests.
4. Have a church member bulletin board with pictures.
5. Eat together–a lot.
6. Ask each group—women’s ministry, college ministry, men’s ministry, etc. to plan at least one purely social event for the whole congregation in the next year.
7. Take a photo of the whole congregation and make it into postcards for congregational use.
8. Establish a church telephone tree to make communication quick and efficient.
9. Plan church retreats–“A Day Away,” a time for the entire congregation to disconnect from the world and connect with each other.
10. Don’t juts call people together to meet and do business. Call them together just to play—Volleyball, horseshoes, movies, ballgames, game nights, etc.
11. Create ways to get your people into each other’s homes–meetings, progressive dinners, Bible studies, yard work days (one hour at each house)
12. Develop a church newsletter.
13. Website—If you don’t have one and don’t utilize social media, stop reading the rest of this post and get on it.
–What are your ideas to build community in your congregation?