Why Do We Need Community?

Why Do We Need Community?


Isolating has always been a temptation for me. Even in my faith, I’ve attempted to follow Jesus with minimal dependence on others while avoiding sharing my struggles and fears. But living the Christian life in isolation doesn’t work for long. 

Why can’t I seek God on my own and please Him? Why is community essential to following Christ?

What Is Community?

Community can be defined as “A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” For Christians, it’s sharing our sorrows and joys while living authentically by allowing others to see our weaknesses and our strengths. It’s confessing our sins to one another and praying for each other. Christian community involves seeking God and worshiping Him together.

Community Is a Reflection of God

We’ll never be able to fully comprehend God, but we know He is “three in one,” called the Trinity. When creating man, “God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness’…So God created mankind in his own image” (Genesis 1:26-27 NIV). God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit worked together in creation.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always been in community, united as one. When Jesus was on Earth, He cried out in prayer for us: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us” (John 17:20-21 NIV). God wants us to experience the joy of harmony as He does.

Paul, a New Testament missionary, wrote “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV). These three always operate as One. They are a picture of the unity God desires for all believers.

Jesus Christ Modeled Community

Jesus came to Earth to live perfectly, die as a sacrifice for all sin, and then rise again, conquering death forever. He was the only One who could save us: He had to do that alone. But He ministered in community. Many followed Him, but He called twelve special disciples to be His apostles. They were continually together as He taught them and prepared them for ministry after His return to heaven. 

Jesus told His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV). He gave this command multiple times. 

When the disciples weren’t with Jesus, He sent them out in pairs to minister to people: “Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out two by two…” (Mark 6:7a NIV). God does use us as individuals, and sometimes we serve alone, but He intends that we minister in community.

Community Provides a Place for Sharing Burdens and Finding Healing

King Solomon of Old Testament times wisely wrote, “Pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10b NIV). Everyone faces times of hardship, pain, and sorrow. Having to go through those times alone can magnify the pain and leave us feeling hopeless. 

We need others to pick us up, hold our hands, or sit quietly with us in our pain. In the Christian community, it’s powerful to see people circling someone who has experienced loss or illness. When someone is there to help us carry our burdens, the weight is lifted from our shoulders. At those times, we can rest knowing we’re not alone.

I remember a time when a dear friend was in an explosion in her garage. After hurrying to the emergency room to check on her, I discovered at least a dozen people from our church there. We circled on the lawn to pray as a helicopter took her to a larger city for care. That is community.

When writing to encourage believers in Galatia, Paul exhorted, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV). Christians are called to help each other with our struggles and difficulties. God never intended for us to walk alone. 

We’re encouraged by the Lord’s brother, James, to “confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV). Instead of feeling like we need to hide our sins and weaknesses in our Christian fellowship, we should be able to confess, pray for each other, and find freedom. Of course, this needs to take place with a group of believers we know and trust. But keeping our struggles and sins in the dark also keeps us bound to them. 

King Solomon of Old Testament times, known for his wisdom, wrote this proverb: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17 NIV). Our brothers and sisters in Christ are there to help us in hard times.

Community Provides Mutual Encouragement

Paul continually sent out letters of encouragement to New Testament believers. When writing to those in Rome, he expressed, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12 NIV). Sharing our faith gives comfort to others.

King Solomon also wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV). As much as our prideful selves believe we can operate alone, we need others to sharpen us or we become dull and discouraged. 

Meeting regularly isn’t just a rule to follow. We come together not only to worship our Lord but also because we need each other. Scripture urges, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).

Being part of a small group is emphasized in my church. These groups meet weekly to study, pray, and do life together. For some years I’d resisted joining one for various reasons. But God recently orchestrated events, and I was suddenly in a life group again. After a couple of weeks, I realized the gift He had given me. Mine is a group of women who are there for each other, praying, encouraging, caring, listening, and understanding. Community is a gift God wants to give.

Community Is More Effective Than Isolation

Paul labeled all believers as “the Body of Christ”. He compared us to a human body, saying, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4-5 NIV). We need everyone’s gifts working together to fulfill God’s purpose for us on earth. God has given me spiritual gifts, but not every gift. Encouraging and serving others is the goal.

Speaking of believers as a body, Paul taught, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ and the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’…there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:21,25-26 NIV). We’re all part of the Body of Christ and are called to unity.

After Pentecost, when God sent the Holy Spirit as a gift to believers, the church enjoyed a time of great unity. Paul recorded, “All the believers were together and had everything in common…And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44-47 NIV). Working together is the most effective way to serve God.

Community Glorifies God

Seeking to operate independently is the opposite of what God wants for His people. His call is for unity within community. Paul expressed this so beautifully: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6 NIV). God desires that, as one, we would focus on glorifying Him.  

Paul continues with this advice: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7 NIV). We must put aside our differences to love each other and work in unity for His glory. 

How Do I Find Community?

-Seek a local church with strong Bible teaching where the gospel of Jesus Christ is taught.

-Go with an open heart and mind, willing to reach out to others.

-Look for small groups to participate in, such as Bible studies, life groups, or service-oriented groups. 

-Pray and ask God to send at least one close friend.

-Share your real self with others.

-Be a friend.

-Remember that building relationships takes time.

-Join in with what the church has to offer.

-Invite someone to study the Bible with you, be a prayer partner, or meet weekly to encourage each other.

-Be open to service opportunities. Take meals to those in need. Help in a food pantry. Volunteer with kids or youth. 

Overall, love others. One of my favorite Scriptures says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV). When we love others, we accept, forgive, and offer grace. In humility, we seek what is good for those we love. Enjoy the gift of community.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/pondsaksit

Susan Aken writes devotions and articles for Wholly Loved Ministries, is an Oklahoma native who’s lived in Nebraska since 1987 and has been in public education for over thirty years. She and her husband have one son and a wonderful daughter-in-law. Besides writing she has a passion for special needs and prayer ministries. She enjoys time with family, reading, photography, movies, walking in nature, and a nice cup of tea. She believes life is a journey and we’re all in different places. Jesus is everything to her and it’s all about grace. Visit her at susanaken53.wordpress.com or on Facebook.