Updated: May 25, 2022
Building community by creating space for authenticity and connection
Once the work of listening to God and your community and loving and serving has begun, the third step of building community begins. This part of the Fresh Expressions Journey is where things really start to happen! A community begins to emerge as others join and befriend you through activities and time spent together.
An essential aspect of building community is to find your core team. One person should not go on this adventure alone. You need two or three people that you trust who share your heart for the people you love and serve and who have the energy and passion to put in the work alongside you. Whether it’s a pastor, a lay person, or someone from the community, creating a team is an essential step that prevents burnout and combines the talents and wisdom of multiple people into one effort! With your team, you can prayerfully work together to create a space where a healthy and supportive spiritual community can flourish.
Whatever you decide to base your community around–whether it’s a hobby, a meal, or a cause–the most important thing you can do is to simply show up. Remember that repeated actions build relationships. Be a constant in someone’s life. Be present at every gathering you can and make sure everyone leaves feeling heard, loved, and valued.
This can often be a slow process. Some groups do not truly become communities until months or years into their existence. Our culture is not built for communities like Fresh Expressions. We live in a time where individuals are seen as consumers or numbers on a page instead of people with needs, desires, and inherent value. Success is determined by how big and how fast things come together, and it is all seen through the lens of money and membership. Meanwhile, so many are forgotten or left behind in the process.
Fresh Expressions causes us to see things differently. This kind of ministry requires authenticity, adaptability, and deep listening, which takes time and patience. This kind of success is not about numbers; it’s about bringing new life to new people.
As your community grows, a shared sense of identity will form. Members will know what to expect and know the others who will be there. Friendships deepen, new members are invited in, and conversations become more meaningful and vulnerable. You build the community with (not for) everyone–sharing roles, learning expectations, and exploring faith together. Through the simplicity of a shared hobby, interest, or geographic location, you begin to do life together!