Community. Group. Crew. Whatever you call it, it’s something that we all need. But it’s something that we often have a hard time building. Community is a word that is used to create a specific culture in a church and ministry that is sometimes difficult to accomplish. After all, it takes time to build a community. It takes effort to foster relationships. But that’s exactly what God has called us to do. 1 Thessalonians 5 points to a world that lies in darkness unaware of the coming Christ. But Paul urges Christians to stay sharp waiting for Christ’s return. He goes further urging us to build each other up. You see, God knew that this life would be hard, and temptation would be great, and He knew that we would need one another.
Creating this community culture starts with us as leaders. I know, I know. Life is busy, especially if you are a pastor or ministry leader. And let’s be honest, sometimes we just want to take a break from people. But we have been instructed to build one another up and to be part of a community of believers. That means you need to be built up. You need to be a part of a community of believers. You need a group you can call on and a crew you can do life with.
The key, I found, is not making it a big deal. I like to throw parties and make a production out of everything (just ask my husband). But I have learned that’s unnecessary, and honestly, it’s not even what’s best. When Jesus walked on earth and spent time with His disciples and followers, Jesus didn’t search for the perfect date on His calendar. He didn’t curate the perfect menu. (Well, except for that time He turned the water into the best wine.) Jesus invited Himself to dinner at people’s homes. He stayed the night with strangers. Now, I’m not saying you invite yourself over, but don’t wait for the perfect circumstances to spend time and fellowship with other believers. And don’t wait for your schedule to clear, because that may never happen. (I’m talking to myself here.) Here are just a few ways that we can foster relationships and build community.
Invite people into your home. Don’t worry if the living room is a mess or the kids’ rooms are a disaster. You don’t need to plan a 5-course meal, or even a 3-course meal for that matter. Provide the meat and ask others to bring the sides and desserts. Your leaders and volunteers, families, and neighbors don’t crave a perfect leader with a perfect home. They crave community.
Connect with other leaders at your conference. This is invaluable!!! I cannot stress this enough. Connecting with fellow pastors and leaders in your conference will probably be your biggest win in 2023. This is a safe place to learn, share, encourage, be encouraged, bounce crazy ideas around, etc. There’s no place like this. IPHC Kids Ministry is in the process of establishing such groups for Kids Ministry leaders in our conferences for this very reason. So, be on the lookout, but don’t wait to start building those relationships.
Ask about others. Celebrate others. This one’s simple and probably the hardest one for us to follow through on. Remember people’s birthdays and anniversaries. It wasn’t that long ago that my husband and I had an anniversary. I hesitate to say (but in the spirit community, I want to be transparent) that our lives were so crazy at that time that it completely slipped both of our minds. That morning our Bishop, Danny Nelson, sent us a “Happy Anniversary” text. It was short and simple, but it made all the difference in the world to us that day. Of course, if you had given us a beat, we would have remembered what day it was. But the text from our Bishop showed me several things. It showed me that our lives were way too busy and complicated (which is a whole different article to be written). And it showed me that my Bishop cared about my family and home.
Sometimes community is for you, and sometimes it’s for others. But that’s the beautiful thing, we all need it and that’s why God encouraged us to build it. So today, invite a family over for dinner, connect with fellow conference leaders, reach out to your volunteers and leaders, and wish them a happy birthday or congratulate them on a job well done. And know that I am thankful that you are a part of my community.
Tiffany considers herself to be an integrator dedicated to carrying out the vision of the Church. As a 4th generation IPHC minister, she appreciates our history while pushing toward the future. After graduating from Emmanuel College, she felt God calling her into full-time ministry. She has served as the children and youth pastor in the local church. Tiffany currently serves as the Conference Children’s Pastor on the NC Conference DM Council and on the Leadership Council at her local church in Garner, NC.
Tiffany loves to travel with her sweetheart, Christopher, and their two beautiful girls, Sadie Grace and Nina Kate. Lately, if she’s not taking a trip or hosting an event, she’s planning a trip or event.