Interconnected: Community Building
By Ron VandenBurg
When my children played with building blocks, they took a long time to craft a castle, a racing car, or a sailing ship. After a few hours of playing and being proud of their masterpiece, it only took a few seconds to break it apart. Sometimes community is built up and sometimes it is torn down. In every group that you or your children are in, how does it remain or become a safe place of joy, healing and encouragement? Communities are shaped by our intentional and unintentional actions.
God had a wonderful plan when he designed us to be interconnected with one another and living in community. As followers of Christ we are called to build, protect, challenge, and love the communities in which we belong. And building these communities can take time and intentional effort. The most famous Biblical description of a Christian community is the body of Christ in I Corinthians 12.
To build community means to be active, seek community out, and help make it happen. To build, a community needs care, hope, trust and respect. Care is never given by accident. When we care, we do it purposefully. If you are a leader or a parent, you need to give trust and respect by seeing each child as also having been created in the image of God. Showing your children that each of them has gifts from God and then finding ways for each child to use their gifts are great ways of giving hope and teaching optimism. Here every individual can contribute to the body of Christ.
Take your children on public transit even if you have a car. Take a trip to the library or to support local merchants.
Sit on your stoop and get to know your neighbors. Organize a street garage sale or block party.
Garden together, plant flowers, listen to birds, and share your neighborhood with your children.
Fix things and clean up garbage.
Put up a swing in a tree by your sidewalk.
Talk to the Mail Carrier and bring a drink to the garbage collectors.
As a family, help the older people in your neighborhood. As good neighbors, hire young people for odd jobs.
I Cor. 12:12 “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”