(Presented by Lisa Bishop)

Being a part of a healthy body of believers is essential to your spiritual growth. And when I say healthy, I do not mean perfect. One thing that can tempt you to withdraw from Christian fellowship is imperfect people. Well, we are all imperfect. You are imperfect; I am imperfect. Lord knows we are all in the process of being transformed as 2 Corinthians 3 tells us: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Being more and more transformed into the image of Jesus is a lifelong process. We are all works in progress. People will disappoint you and cause hurt and you will do the same, because we are all human as we strive to live in the new self that we are created for, in Christ.

And here’s the deal. God designed you for connection, you are created for community. You cannot grow in isolation. You need friends and mentors; you need companions along the journey. Being in community takes courage because relationships, deep and intimate relationships, call us to demonstrate transparency and authenticity. They require going below the surface and opening the door to vulnerability. Sharing our deepest joys, dreams, and desires and exposing our insecurities, disappointments and even our sin.

Finding genuine community will take time, so resist getting discouraged and throwing in the towel too soon. Developing enduring connection will require you to be patient as relationships form, to keep showing up and leaning in.

As you seek to build relationships, the thing to ask yourself is, “Are you the friend you’re looking for?” In other words, you can’t expect things from friendships and community that you aren’t willing to give and be yourself. If you want to be with people who are generous, selfless, kind, loving, trustworthy, reliable, or loyal, do you embody those same qualities? Sometimes we have high expectations of others when we aren’t willing to raise the bar on ourselves. And don’t wait for people to reach out to you. Make the first move! Invite someone to grab coffee or lunch. Ask them to meet up at church and sit together. It can be tempting to wait until someone seeks you out and initiates getting to know you but if everyone takes that posture…well, you get the point.

I know being in community takes courage. Maybe you have been hurt in the past. Perhaps you consider yourself to be shy and stepping out is hard. I get it. If you are not participating in Sunday worship services weekly, that is your first step. If you have been attending (and that does not mean watching online), find a way to serve; get in a small group, and look for ways to connect. Show up, contribute, participate, and pray. Have patience and ask God to bring some solid believers into your life and see how God provides. You were made for community.