Finding Community in an Unexpected Place

When you take a look around this beautiful life of yours, have you taken the time to build relationships? to engage in community? to "be the church"? What if finding community in unexpected places isn't so uncommon? What if we just forgot to be searching for it?

Community is a funny thing. Sometimes communities come together naturally, sometimes they are forced together, and sometimes they are completely unconventional. What if finding community in unexpected places is not so uncommon, after all?

The logo of the church I attend has three concentric circles, which comes from a visit our senior leader made to a monastery in Northern Ireland. The circles represent layers of community. At the center of the first circle is you and God. The first circle represents those very closest to you, friends and close family, those who know you best.

The second circle represents something like a church small group, home group, book club, etc. A slightly wider group of people.  who perhaps don’t know every detail of your life, but who do know more of it than the next level. The third circle is about the larger community, such as church. Finally, outside that circle is the wider world. You could add extra circles, for extra layers, or intersecting circles for different communities, but you get the idea.

I live in an area of England known as a New Town. New towns began here in England in 1946 to relocate populations from poor and bombed out areas of major cities after World War 2. They continued in the 1960s as a way to alleviate the housing shortfalls in major urban areas. They were built in rural areas away from the main cities, with all the infrastructure being put in place from the start. Sometimes they had an existing small town or village as their starting point, but even then, these were created communities.

Huge numbers of people were uprooted from one place to another, for a “better life.” I moved into one of these areas in the early 1990s, right into the heart of one of those late 1960’s areas of housing. What I soon discovered was that these created communities had struggled to create a sense of community. People had moved here, into what was then bright new housing, hoping to leave their struggles behind and quickly found that they had most of the same problems they had before, only now there were no family and friends nearby to support them. Their very first circle had become fractured, their closest layer of community separated. With a brokenness at such a core level, it has taken a lot of effort and input from outside and inside, but they are finally beginning to feel like communities after all.

Where are you finding community?

Where are you finding community? Hopefully, some of you have found community at some level on the Middle Places Community Facebook Group. Many of us within that community will never meet physically, but that does not mean it poses a less valid form of community. I am part of the Middle Sisters, I have been part of other close online communities before that and many of those women are still my friends, even though we’ve never met. They are not “online friends,” they are just plain and simple friends.

Wherever you find community, whether it be conventional or unconventional, it is still community. That reminds me of something I heard once at a children’s ministry conference. We were talking about outreach with children from non-churched families, and the desire on the members of some church leaders to convert “attendance at kids events” to “attendance at proper church.” One of the speakers at that conference said, “If they are worshipping, you are teaching them and sending them out (to be Jesus to their friends and families), then they already have church.” It might not be traditional, but it is still valid.

So, GO! Find community, be community, create community! Be church.

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When you take a look around this beautiful life of yours, have you taken the time to build relationships? to engage in community? to "be the church"? What if finding community in unexpected places isn't so uncommon? What if we just forgot to be searching for it?

Zoe Gregg

Zoe Gregg

A creative woman at heart, Zoe works to introduce local school children to God through “Open the Book” and “Prayer Spaces”. She is passionate about storytelling, believing that each of us has our own unique story to tell as well as delighting in traditional tales.
Zoe Gregg

About Zoe Gregg

A creative woman at heart, Zoe works to introduce local school children to God through “Open the Book” and “Prayer Spaces”. She is passionate about storytelling, believing that each of us has our own unique story to tell as well as delighting in traditional tales.

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