teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name... psalm 86:11

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This weekend at church we talked about community. Pretty standard subject matter for the beginning of fall since most churches are kicking off a new year of small groups right about now. I have to admit, I’ve heard A LOT of talks on community (even given a few!)… and most of them have been good… but this time around it settled differently in me. Hearing about community had this fresh relevance, rather than being just words and theories about a topic. It was more personal this time around.

An old C.S. Lewis quote comes to mind- “For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.” What a wise soul. I think the difference in my receptiveness absolutely has to do with where I am currently standing and the person I am at this point in my life and faith…

This time I’m not standing in the role of church staff trying to create environments that foster community; I’m just a regular attender wanting to participate.

This time I’m not the person who knows everyone and feels responsible to connect and include them; I’m the one in the back who only knows a few people but desperately desires to be more connected.

And my heart is different, I am different… I’ve grown and changed a lot this past year… and I am at a place of rawness and honesty with others and with the Lord that I’ve been too scared and too prideful to let myself go to in the past.

So… community. The scripture used seemed random to me initially, but as we looked at it, it became beautiful and perfect to describe the essence of true community. Psalm 133 … just three short verses. Verse 1 begins with, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” John 17 comes to my mind. Jesus’ prayer for me and for you that we would be united in heart and purpose. Verse 2 compares this unity to oil poured on the head dripping down… see what I mean- weird and random and kind of gross! This analogy is foreign to most of us but it actually speaks of blessing and anointing- ancient priests would use oil to symbolize God’s Spirit over something or someone. Verse 3 gives another comparison- this time it’s the dew on Mt. Hermon and Mt. Zion. Seriously… what?! This analogy speaks of rare refreshment in a dry and thirsty region. Basically, this little Psalm says that true community is a place where there is connection, a sense of blessing and refreshing, and it has God’s life and Spirit all over it.

What a beautiful picture. We were made for this. So why do so few experience this type of community? Quite often, it’s because we mess it up for ourselves. Community is made up of people… broken, imperfect, saved by grace people… it gets messy and vulnerable and won’t ever meet the idealistic picture we have in our minds. When we find ourselves in an imperfect community, we either build walls or we bail. Here’s what we need to remember though- imperfect community is the means Jesus uses to make us more like Himself. It’s through these imperfect relationships we learn love, humility, peace, and compassion.

So I’m praying for this kind of community for me and M… not just the perfect small group where we can be BFF’s with the other people in it… but awkward, uncomfortable, imperfect community where we can grow as children of God and learn more of what it means to live a life of worship, a life like Christ.

May you get to a place of experiencing this kind of community too…


  1. Denise,
    So glad to meet you through the link-up. Really like the CS Lewis quote, and love what you say about finding a small group. I think I've seen people leave good groups because they weren't surrounded by people exactly like them. Sometimes the people who are different than us, help us grow the most.

    Nice "meeting" you.

  2. I resisted joining a small group in my church because I was afraid of exactlyt that: the awkwardness and discomfort. I was finally nudged into it, and being in an imperfectly perfect small group with strangers who have become friends has changed my faith life.

    Thanks for linking up this honest post, Denise.

  3. Thanks Amy and Michelle... great to "meet" you guys through the link-up party! :)

  4. Hello! Thanks for commenting on my site! I really, really appreciate your encouragement. I also really appreciate what you have to say about community. I am not very good with people and I feel the tension between wanting community and being terrified of how hard those relationships can be. Love your blog and will definitely be back!

  5. Wow, this post does parallel my thoughts- in more ways than you might know. I also used to be on staff at a church, and am now looking for community as someone sitting in the row not standing in the front. It does give a different perspective, doesn't it? Glad you found your way to my site today. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm excited to be connecting with other bloggers! -Steph