After the deep connections made in a week of summer camp with friends new and old it’s natural to ask, “How do I find community like this in real life?” We all know camp is a “mountain top” experience but God doesn’t call us to live at the mountain top, he calls us to live in the valley and share His love with the world. The safe space created at camp helps us all to trust one another, try on new ways of thinking and behaving, and leads to authentic conversations. While “real life” may not look like camp it is our calling to find and develop a camp-like community, one rich with connections, lasting relationships and the love of Jesus.
In the book Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown she demonstrates how our desire to be known and our fear of rejection fight against one another, with fear often winning. We have to remember that just as Jesus pursues us, others want to be pursued as well. With Christ we can push past the fear of rejection because our identity is secure in Him.
Still, it’s intimidating to seek out authentic community and share our faith with people. Here are three ways you can seek out other people and be true to who you are.
Become a regular
One of the easiest ways to find a community is to start showing up to the same places again and again. Look for a local coffee shop or restaurant within your price range, and start going there regularly. It can be once a week or every workday. Say hello to the staff and whenever you feel comfortable enough, start introducing yourself to the other regulars. Having a place that is “yours” can help you feel settled and comfortable enough to chat up those around you.
Start a Group
When you join a group you’re guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with every person you meet. Welcome a people over to your house for a meal or invite a group to a restaurant. Jump in your alumni group on Facebook, find who is in your city, and start something. Maybe that looks like sharing breakfast on the first Saturday of the month, or getting together for Sunday afternoon football or forming a city league kickball team. Everyone wants to be pursued.
Join a Cause
No matter where you are there is no shortage of need in the city or town. Search for local organizations on social media or through the local news that addresses issues you care about most, and sign up for the next meeting. Invite your new friends to join you in making a difference.
Developing community takes time and intentional energy but we rely on power that is not our own. Put yourself out there, be vulnerable, and see what happens. You can not only find and make lasting friendships but you can also help people take one step closer to Jesus.