There’s a saying that goes:
“You can be a Christian alone,
But you can’t live the Christian life alone.”
Throughout scripture we see that our faith and relationship with God is personal and individual, but we also see that we are commanded to live this faith out in everyday life.
Towards other believers and non-believers alike.
But, specifically for this post, I want to encourage you on living out the former of the two:
Living life with other Christians.
As Christians, we are called to
Encourage each other,
Bless each other,
Help each other,
Pray for each other,
Hold each other accountable,
And generally live life together.
And this simply can’t all be done on a Sunday morning.
And so you have to make time in your week,
You have to prioritize making these relationships happen,
Or our busy lives will simply get in the way.
Adjusting To Life Stages
My wife and I have always loved to have other people over.
When we didn’t have kids, we would have people over a lot,
but we also would also go out to spend time with others constantly.
Out for coffee,
Over other people’s houses,
Taking day trips,
Everywhere and anywhere.
But then we had kids.
And going out became less and less feasible,
Especially when our oldest started Pre-K.
Bedtimes got earlier,
And getting out of the house was sometimes way too much work.
And so we had to adjust.
We started hosting even more in order to keep up relationships.
Sometimes when the boys are still awake,
And sometimes after they’ve gone to bed.
But we knew, because of our life stage, that it was unreasonable to think that we’d be able to keep up with our previous out-of-the-house activities with two young kids.
And so we bring the people to us.
Now that we’re “fully” moved in to our new home, we have been trying to get back in the habit of having people over 3 times a week – and it’s been completely worth it.
Yes, sometimes the house is still messy, and not all put together
But friends really don’t care.
Because we’re inviting people into our real lives,
Not our Instagram lives.
Yes, having kids complicated our lives,
But we adjusted.
I’m not sure what’s complicating your life,
Maybe it’s a weird work schedule,
Or something else entirely.
But how can you invite people into your life?
Maybe it’s going out,
Maybe it’s inviting them over,
Maybe it’s coordinating your grocery shopping to spend time with others there (I’m serious – why not?).
Because we are called to build intentional relationships with other Christians, regardless of our stage of life.
I considered leaving the post off with simply spending time with others,
But to be honest, we, as a Christian culture, have settled for watching a sports game or movie or playing a board game as sufficient for “Christian community.”
And it’s simply not good enough.
There’s nothing wrong with those things, in fact, they’re important too,
But there has to be more.
When we look at Scripture, we see a community that shares their struggles and pain. Their ups and downs emotionally, spiritually, financially, relationally and every other area of life.
We’re told to build one another up,
To pray for each other,
To confess sin to each other,
To hold each other accountable,
To teach one another,
To ask for forgiveness,
To share in one another’s burdens
And these things don’t just happen because we’re in the same room for a couple hours.
Regardless of where you’re meeting with other Christians, or what the “event” was for.
Please don’t pass up the opportunity to do the above.
Push past the normal “I’m good” and find out how people are really doing,
Offer to pray for each other,
Set forward your own real problems and issues, and you’ll be surprised how quickly others open up back to you.
It can be awkward at first,
But push through the awkwardness.
Because it’s worth it.
It’s what Christian community is really meant to be like.
3 Steps To Build Intentional Relationships
So, here’s three questions for you to consider and a couple ways that have helped us break past the “fake” community relationships to build real Christian community in our friendships.
1. How will you intentionally invite others into your schedule?
For us, we had to intentionally find ways to get people into our home because of our two young boys. We do meet up at parks and other places, but we’ve found it easiest to really build relationships within our own home. And, you know what’s amazing? People seem to really enjoy being invited over, even if everything isn’t “perfect” and it brings a different level of intimacy that a lot of people don’t get anymore because hosting has become so uncommon in our culture.
2. How will you intentionally invite others into your real life, sharing your struggles, pains and joys, so that you may engage with them on a deeper level?
It’s amazing how many people will open up once you show them that your life isn’t perfect either. Whether it’s personal struggles or physical imperfections such as our house not being perfectly spotless or things we still have to fix/finish in the new house. The perfect “Instagram Life” has people on edge now-a-days always comparing and so when you show your imperfections, it allows for everyone to take a sigh of relief and let their own imperfections show.
3. How will you intentionally invite others to seek God with you during these times through prayer, discussion and encouragement?
One of the best things we decided to do after we moved was to offer our guests to set aside 10 to 15 minutes to pray together when they come over. We ask them ahead of time so that we’re not springing it on them, and so that they can decline if they would like, but these times of praying with friends who come over have been some of the best times we’ve had with them. It’s funny how simply asking to pray with or for someone can have such a dramatic impact on their lives and your relationship together – and it only takes a few minutes!
I hope this has been helpful for you in seeing the possibilities of intentionally reaching out to build Christian community around you and I hope you take the steps to make it happen, it’s certainly worth it.