Community: When it’s good, it’s so good! When it’s bad, it’ll knock the stuffing out of you. Trust me, I’ve been a part of both.
Moving overseas, this longing for good community seemed to increase a hundred fold in me. It’s so easy to feel isolated and alone even if we really aren’t.
In my quest for good community, I initially believed some myths. I thought we should all be friends, all agree, and all be happy with each other all the time. Perhaps we needed some grand manifesto we’d all agree to, some bold outspoken commitment to community.
What I found instead was a vibrant community of differing opinions, personalities, and even people I don’t necessarily get along with. We don’t have a manifesto and we aren’t all best friends, but I’ve found a home here. Good community is worth the tension of navigating differences.
I think community grows stronger through persistent, seemingly unremarkable actions. Grand gestures are sometimes needed too, but they aren’t the foundation of good community. It’s simple things like sharing a meal or helping someone solve a problem that builds up trust and respect over time.
Reflecting back on my time overseas, I put together a list of community encouraging actions that I’ve witnessed, received, or done myself. This isn’t written as a “must do” list, but rather as an encouragement for you to think through what you can do to build the community you long for.
- Invite someone over for a meal
- Drop off a meal
- Send a spontaneous letter or card
- Host a party or open house
- Teach someone a new skill
- Ask someone to teach you a new skill
- Join a sport
- Organize a community event like a yard sale or Christmas program
- Attend a community event
- Greet people
- Give a special welcome gift when someone new arrives
- Play games together
- Host a movie night
- Help fix someone’s computer, stove, motorcycle, whatever…
- Invite someone camping, on a hike, a picnic, or bike ride
- Tutor children or host a home school co-op
- Set aside space in your luggage to carry back items for someone
- Bring small gifts back when you return from furlough
- Join a bible study or prayer group
- Host a bible study or prayer group
- Don’t gossip
- Keep confidential sharing confidential
- Offer to help someone with gardening
- Say “Thanks” when you see someone helping the community
- Offer to drive someone
- Ask someone about their day
- Do a task that needs to be done, even if you’re not responsible for it
- Ask about someone’s family back home
- Send a card to someone who moved away
- Read someone’s newsletter and comment back on it
- Bring snacks to a meeting
- Make special snacks for someone with food allergies/sensitivities
- Let others know when you see special items available in the store
- Lend things
- Donate to a financial need
- Be an emergency contact
- Check up on someone ill or injured
- Help someone even if it isn’t convenient
- Be nice even if you don’t like or agree with someone
I’d love for you to add to this list or share your stories of building a good community. Feel free to do so in the comments.