Colleen's helpful blog last week reminds me that community rarely happens by accident; rather, it normally requires people to reach out, risking themselves for new relationships.
But if you do not know where to start in building community, let me give you three different types of dinner invitations you might extend. Try each one over the next three months and tell me how it goes!
1. Reach out to someone you do not know well.
This Sunday, look around ECC and identify one person or one couple you do not know well.
Then follow these instructions carefully: 1) Walk to them; 2) Extend your hand; 3) Shake hands; 4) Say, "Hi, I'm ________, would you like to come over for dinner this week?"; 5) Set day/time.
It may seem funny to think of such simple steps, but the fact is, this simple invitation can open up a world of community at ECC. How many times have you wished that someone was inviting you over to their house for dinner? Well, instead of waiting for someone to invite you, why not extend the invitation yourself? You may just find a new friend...and you may richly bless someone else by showing them they matter.
When my family first visited ECC, we were surprised by the warmth of a particular couple who reached out to us that first day. They not only introduced themselves, but, after a bit of talk, invited us to come over for dinner sometime. We have been friends ever since. Their courage and hospitality led us into community at the church.
2. Reach out to a neighbor.
When we think of evangelism, we often imagine pulling out a 5-step track and presenting the gospel. This may work; but often the simple step of reaching out to a neighbor works just as well, building the groundwork for showing your neighbors the majesty of Jesus.
So in the second month, invite a neighbor over for dinner. How well do you really know the people in your neighborhood?
A few years ago, my wife and I organized a neighborhood dessert at our apartment. One of the neighbors commented that having lived in their house for 18 years, they had never met their neighbors two doors down until that day. Build community in your neighborhood: God may just open an opportunity for you to bring someone to Jesus in this way.
3. Reach out to a friend.
Friendship deepens only through time and contact. If you haven't been investing in your friendships, don't be surprised that your friendships feel stagnant or distant. Unfortunately, many of us are so busy with our careers or responsibilities that we fail to invest in those cherished relationships around us.
Don't take your friendships for granted.
So in the third month, invite friends over for dinner! God uses friendships to sharpen us and mold us more into his image. Living life together with my close friends helps me enjoy God more and keeps me walking on the path toward Christ.
Three months; three invitations; three new possibilities for community. Don't stand idly by waiting for community to happen: be a part of it!
Reach out to someone you do not know well at ECC.
Reach out to a neighbor.
Reach out to a friend.
Remember...it is in and through community that God brings about perseverance and growth in our lives. Your life depends on reaching out.