The seventh item on the Freedom Guide is to find a community of believers. The important piece of this, is to find a group with whom you can connect in a meaningful way. Finding people who know you well, and are able and willing to speak into your life. We were not created to do life alone. God, Himself, was not content with just being the Trinity, but He created humans for friendship’s sake.
The typical place to find a group of believers that one thinks of is church. I write this with some trepidation, because I know that for many of us, church has been a place of our greatest woundings. The body of Christ can be vicious to its own… So, for the purposes of this post, I’m referring to a broader concept of the church, than just going to a building on Sunday morning.
How do we go about finding people to be in relationship with who are like-minded believers? By like-minded, I don’t mean who think exactly like you. I personally find that to be very dull. I enjoy hearing and learning about different perspectives. But, it is important to have a solid foundation on the basics of what you believe, and the direction you want to head. If I am wanting to become more like Christ, then I need to align myself with others on the same path.
This might be a home church, or a small Bible study, the local house of prayer, or something of that nature. Ask God to show you where to go and with whom to connect. Micro-church is a term I’ve been hearing a lot lately. If you can’t find one, maybe you can start one! Gather with a friend or two and watch a webcast of a service, maybe.
I think that we need to recognize that people are not perfect, Christian or not, and if we are expecting them to be, then we are a part of the problem. Should Christians be better at loving others? Absolutely! Jesus is our example and whom we should emulate. But none of us get it right all of the time. So, forgive and give grace when needed….and make sure that you’re doing your best to love others, believers and not, well. I’m referring here to honest mistakes, not toxic patterns of behavior.
We also need to know that not all groups are safe places, and we should carefully choose the one we wish to attend. Some leaders are controlling and manipulative and should be avoided. Some tolerate toxic behavior from group members. If you run across one of those, try somewhere else. They are, in my experience, not super common, thankfully! Again, there is a difference in growing and pursuing healthy behavioral choices. Mistakes are bound to happen, but pay attention to how those are dealt with by leadership. This may take time to discover.
Not only may the right group take time to find, but it may take time to develop a relationship with the people in that group. Don’t give up too quickly. If the group appears to be healthy, and they are people who are encouraging one another to grow, and you have some things in common, then give it time to become your place of connection. By time, I don’t just mean days and months, but I mean minutes and hours spent with them and interacting with them.
As one who has been very introverted (I’m slowly growing into more of an ambivert), I know the temptation to just go and sit in a corner and call that good. Unfortunately, I also know from experience that this does not work well at all. So it is also important to consider the size of the group. Especially for those of us introverts, smaller is better. But for everyone, it is more important to have a few core people, than many around us who only know the surface.
What I hope that you take away from this, is that there is a need for all of us to find someone who can encourage us in our healing journey, in our life and relationship with God, and that we can do the same for them. If you find several, that’s even better, however and where ever that may be. They may take some searching to find, but it will be worth it!
If you would like more information on this and the rest of the items on the Freedom Guide, I expanded this content into a book and workbook that you can purchase from me in the office, at my online shop or other retailers here.