Community- I know, pretty girl, this is going to be a tough one for you. We were never meant to do this on our own, and community can change so much about how we move forward with faith. But how do we find community? Why is it important to find faith?
I stopped at my mailbox on the way home the other day. Amidst all the junk mail and offers for new Pella windows and Grocery store adds a small envelope fell out addressed to me personally. I don’t know about you, but I find mail super exciting. How often do we get an actual letter these days? It was a simple note from a woman in my Dad’s church that I grew up in introducing herself and asking if I would want to go to lunch sometime. It took me a minute. I had a decision to make. Do I brush this off and forget about it. Do I text her and tell her to leave me alone. I will never be interested in ever returning to your church and go away; thank you very much! Or do I go to dinner with her? What would God want me to do? If I am living His purpose and I know His purpose for us in this world is to know Him and make Him known, then I would use this opportunity to get to know this person. God made this person, just as He made me. He loves her and wants to get to know her just as all souls on this Earth. He loves every one of them and is waiting for each of them.
So I went to coffee, well I got coffee. Obviously, being LDS, she did not. But it was a great conversation.
Do you know what I found more than anything while talking to beautiful Mrs. Ellen? She really was just a bit lonely and looking for someone to talk to. She said that is why she joined the church many years before- she loved the people and wanted that community.
I think we are all looking for community.
I do believe that is one of the most complex parts of leaving the church, community.
I had left the church when I was 18. I’m not a super extroverted person, despite what many might believe, and for years I longed for community. I longed for something to be part of.
It’s human nature, really.
Mrs. Ellen, you, me, we all need people to in some capacity, even if we are introverts and a hot bath and good book win out over a cocktail hour with a bunch of people 90% of the time.
But if I have learned anything over this last year of walking side by side with Jesus, he wants us to have community.
By listening every time He has nudged me toward community I can’t even tell you how much my faith has exponentially grown, and He has shown me that I am not alone.
If you haven’t listened to my faith journey, you can go back to episode one and hear it all, but I went through some hard ‘stuff’ with my daughter last year. I had the moment of surrender on my knees, praying to God for help. He told me it would all be okay, but He also told me I needed to call someone. Someone very unexpected.
He told me to call a childhood friend of mine. We had been inseparable until about 8th grade where our families had a bit of a falling out. We had had nothing to do with each other since then. I heard through the grapevine that she homeschooled. Maybe that was in the back of my mind, but to this day, the fact that God told me, “Call Vanessa,” still boggles my mind. All I can say is this friend in Jesus was the exact person I needed to call. Just as with my letter from Ellen, Vanessa had a choice. She could dismiss my message just as easily as an old pair of shoes, but she didn’t. And because of her willingness to listen, share a coffee with me, and be a friend in Jesus to me, my entire faith grew off the charts.
It just takes a pinch of kindness.
Pretty girl, I know you left a strong community. Maybe it was great, and you’re mourning it because it will never be the same now that you left. Perhaps it never felt accepted, and you struggled to fit in. Maybe you are lonely right now. Perhaps you are okay with your friends, but they are not bringing you to God.
My friend, God tells us in His word, 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Today, I will give you three things to do today to start building a community that will help grow your faith.
They say you are a product of the five people you spend the most time with. Are the people you are with helping you find a relationship with Jesus? Helping you to find faith?
Number 1) Listen to where God is leading you. Is there someone close to Jesus right now accessible to you. Ask them to coffee. Make that call. If they are walking with God they will be a friend.
Secondly, Find a group. This can be scary, but find a women’s group. If you have little ones, five and under, there is a fantastic organization called MOPS- Mothers of Preschoolers. The first bible study I ever did was with this group. They are national and have chapters from one end of the country to the other. Look them up. If your kids are older, look into bible studies near me. If you dabbling in going to church, rest assured every church under the sun will have a women’s group. If you are not comfortable with attending a church yet, your faith is not quite there, look into online options. The church we attend here in Albuquerque is called Sagebrush. It broadcasts all sermons and has a very strong online community. I say this because they make it very easy to join online bible study small groups. I live here, and my group still meets through zoom. The more involved you are in any group, the more you will get out of it. I became part of the homeschool group that Vanessa facilitates. I love these women. My daughter is going back to school this year, but I could not bring myself to leave this community. So much so that I will be teaching a portion of it next year just to be able to stay involved with these ladies. And if you can’t find a group, you can always start your own. I hosted bible study this summer at my home using the Truthfilled study with ruth chou simons. It is online and in book form. Get a group of women together and create your own God-filled community. Be a part of a group.
And lastly, and maybe most importantly, open your heart. Go where God is leading you. If you see an ad for a women’s conference pop up in your feed, go where God is leading you and go! If you get a letter in the mail randomly, be a disciple of Jesus. Go. If He is nudging you to listen and worship at the local Christian church around the corner, go for it! If you see an ad for We the Kingdom, a great band coming to an event near you, ask a friend and go! If He leads you to a podcast with a gal who has walked through the fire of leaving community, well, I’m happy you are here.
I say open your heart because when you do, great things happen. The verse I read you just a minute ago, 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11. This verse was sent to me this morning by a friend I would have never made if I hadn’t opened my heart. She is a wonderful gal that invited me to a women’s event at a church nearby. We met a few other girls. We created a little power circle in Jesus where we talk and share verses every day.
God lead my daughter to a youth group with a friend’s church that has changed her path towards Jesus in ways I can’t explain. She just back from bible camp this morning, somewhere I never would have imagined she would go.
Don’t be afraid to open your heart, pretty girl. You are not alone. And here is your challenge today if you chose to accept it. Find someone to talk faith with. One person that you know will bring you to a better place with Jesus today. And speaking of community, I would love to support you. That is the whole reason I am here. At findingfaithabove.com learn more about what opportunities are open to help grow your faith. And speaking of faith, that is what we are going to be talking about next time What is faith and the surprising truth about those who walk away from the church.
Truthfilled Study> https://www.lifeway.com/en/product-family/truthfilled-bible-study