God designed you for community (1 Peter 2:4–5; Eph. 2:19–22). He made you with a desire to connect with other people who can grow with you, cry with you, sharpen you, encourage you, and laugh with you. No matter your stage or season, all of us long to find people we can simply do life with. But if you’re like me, you’ve had times in your life when it feels like that kind of community is impossible to find.
Thankfully, as believers, we always have community among the Body of Christ. And while sometimes we’re blessed to walk right into an easy and comfortable community, other times it just takes a little more effort to connect. But because God made you for community, He’s uniquely equipped you to cultivate it. As women of God, we are community builders. That means that we don’t get to sit out of community when it’s hard to find people we connect with. We have a responsibility to build it!
The work of a community builder isn’t always easy but it’s always worth it. Here are three things a community builder is willing to do.
A community builder is willing to invite before expecting an invitation.
I recently moved to a new city and I wasted so much time waiting on invitations. I was waiting to be invited to lunch or coffee, maybe even a new Bible study. Unfortunately, invitations were few and far between. Ultimately, it wasn’t until I started handing out invitations myself that I started to find women I really connected with. I realized that just because someone doesn’t extend an invitation to you, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to get to know you. In many cases, it simply requires a willingness to take first step. In many cases, it just takes initiative. Community building means taking initiative to invite. Jesus Christ has handed us an open invitation into relationship with Him, and as His daughters we too can take initiative to invite.
A community builder is willing to invest before expecting to be invested in.
Community building is hard work, and it takes an investment of time and energy as well as sacrifice and intentionality. Unfortunately, being the first and sometimes only investor is hard—really hard. And if you’re not careful, it can leave you feeling bitter, discouraged, and irrelevant. But true community builders know that investing in people is always worthwhile. Dig in and put in the work. Show up for people even when they haven’t shown up for you. Encourage people even if they haven’t encouraged you. Pray for people even if they’ve let you down. Jesus gave His life to us even when we had nothing to give in return, and He does not treat us as we deserve.
Therefore, we’re called to do the same for the people we are investing in (Rom. 12:17). In Scripture, we’re called to bear with one another (Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:2). Give grace in friendship because someday you’ll need it, too. In order to be effective community builders, we have to be willing to treat people better than they deserve.
A community builder is willing to share before expecting others to share
We all have a story that’s worth sharing. Unfortunately, our stories rarely get shared. For the most part, that’s because sharing first is hard. In fact, being vulnerable first is probably the hardest part of being a community builder and yet it’s the most crucial. Community grows in vulnerable spaces but vulnerable spaces have to be initiated, cared for, and protected. That means you initiate it—you go first. You can’t expect someone to share their story with you if you haven’t shared yours first. Let someone into the places where God is working on you and then ask how God is working on them (Matt. 5:14–16).
You also can’t expect others to open up to you if you’ve been careless with someone else's story. If you want to be a community builder, you have to be trustworthy. Never forget: talking negatively about someone makes you the untrustworthy person, not them.
So let me ask you:
are you a community builder?
Community building isn’t easy, but thankfully we have a God who is the ultimate community builder. Jesus Christ is the one who enables us to build community, in His name, through His gift to us on the cross.
As women of God, community is crucial in our pursuit of holiness. Don’t give up when community feels hard. Roll up your sleeves and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, start building!