By Susan Rains
It’s confession time! I’m part of the Community Life Team at my church, but I haven’t always been comfortable “doing” community! Honestly, I thought it was a great idea for everyone else…but for me?!
I remember vividly 20 years ago when our church was starting small groups…heat crept up my neck and I broke into a cold sweat. I knew in my heart I was called to participate, but my mind was frantically trying to justify a way out! Fast-forward 20 years and I consistently get the same gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit when I need courage to step into community. He says, “Trust me…you were created to be in community”. All these years later, I’m still learning not only the importance of community, but the reward!
So here’s my challenge to you: “Trust me…you were created to be in community…church-style community!”
Why does doing community church-style matter?
The principle of stewardship doesn’t just apply to your finances…something supernatural happens when you’re focused on giving instead of receiving. Proverbs 11:24-25 says, “There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more . . .the generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.” God has called us to generosity…in every way possible! Yes, with finances, but also with love, kindness, compassion, empathy and understanding. Let’s be as lavish with others as He is with us! Let’s love others kingdom-style; let’s be scatterers!
You were created for community…more specifically for relationship! It’s within relationship that life-change happens. Relationship is the springboard for trust. As trust is developed, walls of isolation come down and space is made for authentic conversation. The devil loses traction with his lies! What’s the WIN? People allow themselves to be known. Being known and accepted creates restoration momentum, which begins the process of moving us from where we are to where God wants us to be!
Let’s live what Jesus taught us! In Matthew 28:19 He says, “Go and make disciples . . . ”. Here’s what reverberates in my heart and gets me excited: What better place to make disciples than in the local church?! Have you been set-free in an area? Experienced His redemption? If so, you’re ripe to love someone else in their mess. Your encouragement can be what helps them make a next step decision! Your acceptance of them right where they are can be a difference-maker! 1 John 4:18 says, “ . . . perfect love casts out fear . . .” In order for love to be perfect, the cycle has to be complete. If you’ve been shown love by a gracious Heavenly Father, complete the love cycle by showing gracious love to someone else. Let’s be the hands of feet of Jesus!
It’s easier than you think… just be yourself, full of God! 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” Think back to our cycle of love above…how has God transformed you? It really is that simple: give away what you’ve received! Share your story by living it out in care for others. Let His love in you become practical and demonstrated toward others. When you transfer the love shown to you, lives are transformed…you become a conduit for God’s power…a world-changer and disciple-maker!!
One more confession before we wrap up…I’m still learning these principles! I’m a work in progress and I need God to constantly remind me that my presence in my local church matters! There’s someone out there waiting to identify with me…to feel the love and see the transformation in my own life so they can believe God loves them the same way. Let’s rally each other! Let’s tear the walls down and get real. Let’s strap on our work boots and get in the trenches together. After all, each and every person who comes through the doors of our local churches MATTER to God. Let’s do what Romans 12:10 says: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdoing one another in showing honor.”
Susan is passionate about helping women grow spiritually, maximize their potential and connect with each other. She is on staff at Meadowbrook Church in Ocala, Florida as the Director of Women’s Small Groups, where she is linking arms with women to help them live more fulfilled, wholehearted lives and create community. She is also a Life Coach and is currently launching a blog designed to encourage the women in her church community to passionately and authentically pursue the life God designed for them; to live with their arms open wide and dream big dreams…together! You can watch it develop at susanrainsblog.wordpress.com. She has 2 grown kids, one attending University of North Florida and the other at Southeastern University, and a boxer named Simon. A country girl at heart, you’ll find her somewhere outside on the weekends…on her bike, running, doing yard work or at the beach relaxing, reading and enjoying life.