September 15, 2015
We stood in the drizzling rain, some huddled under umbrellas, others with water darting down glasses and dripping off noses. There wasn’t a football game or concert to keep us from escaping to the dry indoors. Instead the magnet was a desire for community.
For two hours, the rain fell, off and on, and still people came—and stayed. The kids played ga-ga, a dodgeball-type game that has nothing to do with the Lady. They rode their bikes in the street, which was closed for the event, and played Capture the Flag as night fell.
The adults stood in clusters, various drinks in one hand, scrumptious potluck offerings in another. And we talked and laughed. Met new people and reconnected with old ones.
It was a great neighborhood block party.
One of the women I met was new to the area. As we talked throughout the evening, she shared her longing. I just want some friends, she said. It’s hard to meet people when you’re working and new to a community. I want somebody to take a walk with or to sit on a porch and catch up on the week. I want to feel like I belong.
Her hunger was palpable. And I’ve been there. Sometimes I still feel like I’m there. Each time we’ve moved to a new church and city, I’ve spent weeks (and months) trying to find my place. And I’m pretty social. (I once invited a woman I met in line at the grocery store to join a book club. She looked at me like I was a bit crazy. I thought she seemed interesting).
I was struck during the block party by this desire for community. Even though it was raining and chilly, folks stuck it out. And kept coming. By the end of the night, we had a hundred or so people, all enjoying the chance to get to know one another better. In the midst of this large group was the young woman, an individual example of our corporate need for connection.
I’ve been pondering this experience for the past couple of days. Personally, I think I’m going to start a neighborhood book club (or maybe a not-so-highbrow Bunko gathering). But I wonder how the church can also meet this need for community. How can we create events that people will attend despite the rain (or soccer games or other commitments)? What can we do to offer opportunities for connection—especially among those who feel disconnected and lonely? How can we deliberately foster community—on Sunday and every day?
What’s working for you and your church? Share your ideas. The need is great, and sometimes it seems the laborers are few.
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