By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Do you remember the days of Sunday afternoon covered dish potluck meals? Or when going to church was a week-long event! You attended Sunday school, Sunday service, Sunday night church, Wednesday night church, and more! Most of us don’t have space in our lives for that much church anymore, but we all still are in desperate need of the community that grows when we rub shoulders with others in our community on a regular basis. We were literally made for community. The first thing in the Bible that God said was not good in all of creation was the fact that Adam was alone! He knew Adam needed companions, friends, and partners for life.
We are living through a time in history where distance is encouraged. It’s easy to forget that one way to protect each other is through closeness. Loneliness, isolation, and fear wreak havoc on our emotional and physical wellbeing. We should not be reckless in our interactions, but we must not leave each other alone for too long or we will give the enemy too much room to steal good things that come from communal living from our lives.
Most of us are just now starting to see the snippets of the aftermath of living through a pandemic...and many, many people are weary, broken, lost, and more alone than ever! If I could survey every reader, I bet you all know someone who is going through a divorce due to COVID, has lost a job, loved one, is struggling with anxiety or depression, has mounting health issues, or has lost touch with their faith community. People need people to heal from these wounds that have come from this very tumultuous time period.
It’s time to revive the ministry of hospitality! This does not mean we have to bring back to the 90’s style of church potluck, the same way that Target has embraced the 90’s style in their new clothing line, but it does mean that we need to start making more space to love on others that are in our lives. People need people! This is a fact that will never change.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Cook a Homemade Meal for Others
A couple from our church we just met invited us over for a homemade meal the other week and I was really taken aback by the amazing generosity of this gesture. Honestly, other than a handful of very close friends it is very rare that our entire family of six is invited over for dinner. I get it; we have a lot to host and cook for! Needless to say, this beautiful dinner was a sweet gift of love to our family and a great way to make fast friends with this new acquaintance.
I know you are going to immediately think of all the reasons cooking and hosting is not for you! Pinterest has totally ruined our idea of what hosting a dinner party should look like.
My husband and I have lived in apartments, old houses, newer houses, tiny houses, and now an average house... I am happy to report that friends have come to dine in each and every one! They even came back. The imperfect layout of our rooms or lack of square footage had nothing to do with our ability to build community within the walls of the home God had blessed us in at each stage of our lives.
If you aren’t a great cook, don’t sweat it… order some great food and call it a day! Or invite your friends to bring food and do a picnic dinner together. The point is people need you. You were made to love others and that begins when we open our lives and homes to the people we see in our daily lives.
2. Organize a Meetup
If cooking and hosting are not your things then do a little planning and invite others to meet up for an activity! Pick something that brings you joy and take an extra moment to think of one person who would enjoy doing it with you. Invite them to be a part of your fun!
How many of us are just waiting for the invitation? Wishing we were the ones with closer friends and more ways to destress at the end of our weeks? Guess what you are not alone! Basically, everyone else is also waiting for the invite, so be brave and take the first step towards community by initiating.
As a new Mom, I knew I desperately needed friends, so I literally attended a Mom’s group the first day of my maternity leave and then took the time to email the whole group on a weekly basis inviting them to come out and play with us! Guess what, people came and this is how I met some of the best friends of my life. We somehow accomplished a lasting love for each other as friends all while being sleep deprived, having no uninterrupted conversations, but what we did do is show up to imperfectly be together, week after week!
3. Start a Bible Study
One quick way to get a group onto common ground is through the Bible! People from different backgrounds can unify through the power of the Holy Spirit that becomes more evident when we study God’s book together. Connection and growth happen when we spend time in God’s Word as a community.
Think of people that you spend time with in your daily life and invite them to take time out of their schedule to read the Bible together. This can be co-workers, neighbors, Mom friends, family, fellow parents at your child’s school, or people from church. Throw in some free coffee and treats and people will feel so loved and excited to connect with you in this way.
When church was hard to get to last year, we met virtually with some close friends to discuss what we are reading in the Bible and praying about in our personal quiet times. This little check-in was so encouraging when everything felt so upside down. Now that it is more possible to gather in person, let’s not neglect the chance to help encourage each other along in our faith walk.
4. Start a Club
I know the idea of a “club” seems kind of silly but it’s a great way to get a group to commit to being together. One summer I hosted a cooking club where me and some girlfriends tried out new recipes and then enjoyed our tasty creations together! This was a fun reason to open my home and gave us something to enjoy doing.
A Supper Club, an idea I borrowed from Jen Hatmaker, has been the glue that bonded us to some of our dearest friends. We began rotating hosting a dinner for each of our houses monthly about seven years ago! This commitment has grown a tight bond between each of our families.
Think of an activity you want to try out and offer to host a time to do it with others! You could start a knitting club, baking club, walking club, coffee club... I mean the possibilities are endless! Being a host for a club is a sweet way to love others.
1 Peter 4:9 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” These words should encourage us to take time to step a little out of our comfort zones in an effort to be a place where other people can find God’s love. Busy schedules with things that don’t build up ourselves or others is not what God had in mind for our lives. We were made to live in close proximity with each other so that we can be encouraged when we desperately need it.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Austin Kehmeier
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.