Back home, I come from a church where everyone knows my name. So when I first heard God’s call to move to Hong Kong, to a big international church where I knew nobody, believe me, I didn’t have an Isaiah – send me moment! Why? Because it meant leaving a community where I felt I belonged, was known, encouraged and cared for. It had taken a long time to build those relationships I’d come to love and value so much.
As I said goodbye, I prayed that I’d know the same type of community in Hong Kong. This type of community is formed, not found, it takes time and intentionality, but it is important to our sense of being set in family (Psalm 68:6) and to our witness in the world (John 13:35).
It’s possible to go to church without participating in the community of church; it’s not hard to show up, hide in the crowd, and leave as soon as the service or event is over. However, the Bible reinforces the truth that we were created for community.
Jesus himself sets an example of community. We often read about occasions where he deliberately chose to surround himself with people, including the disciples, with which he shared his closest fellowship, inviting them to join him in what he was doing. Jesus was doing more than preparing people to be witnesses to his life and mission; he was intentional about living with a community of friends.
This weekend marks one year since my first Sunday at St Andrew’s; let me share a few of the ways I’ve found helpful for connecting in the community over the last year:
Join a Growth Group
As well as studying the Bible and praying together, Growth Groups create a consistent time and space for you to get to know each other. With opportunities to share life experiences, you’ll begin to cultivate a network of care that provides encouragement and support through all seasons of life.
There are many opportunities to use our gifts to serve God and each other. When we volunteer, we are not just reflecting the love of God but serving as part of the body (Romans 12:4-5). We are part of a team with an individual role to play, which helps our sense of belonging, encourages and builds each other up in faith.
We learn in the Bible that sharing a meal together is one of the primary ways relationships are established, deepened, and enjoyed with others. Extend an invitation after church for lunch or dinner to those around you. Use this opportunity to get to know each other as you enjoy food, invest in fellowship, and build lasting, authentic relationships.
Community is not always easy, yet it’s necessary. You will inevitably meet people who are different from you, but we give thanks that the gospel unites us despite our differences and teaches us to look beyond ourselves to the needs of others. Community is worth every effort, because living in a Christ-centred community benefits us and our faith; it edifies, corrects, and encourages us, which leads to spiritual growth and maturity.
Ask God to reveal to you, ways that you can connect with the community here at St Andrew’s, for opportunities to develop new relationships and deepen the ones you have.