Community changes who we are. Whether we realize it or not, our external interactions mold us internally. I see the impact of my social settings every time I switch things up. When I'm exploring a far-off place, part of me feels like a different person than when I'm getting to know people in my hometown. And after a week of staying home, my mindset forgets all the new motivations I gain from fellowship. That is why I need rhythm. I need to discover new things with new people, I need steady, comforting friendships, and I need time alone. I know that rhythm comes through having a reliable source of human connection. For those of us who are still building that source, the reliable part can seem shaky. It can feel like there aren't enough options in a small town, and in a big city, it can seem like there are too many. I know I may not find the "perfect" group, so I eventually have to get proactive about creating community.Small groups are a great place to find friendships centered around God’s Word. But with families on vacation and students leaving for home, groups usually go on break during the summer. On the upside, there are still plenty of opportunities to meet people at worship services and events. So how can we develop a foundation for deeper connections year-round? What about the people who are new to town or aren't able to visit their families? What can we do to bring inclusion to those who feel like outsiders? If you're someone who has an established circle, it probably sounds better to make fun plans with who you want. I've been there, and I don't blame you. And if you're a bit lost, it's usually easier to stay in your comfort zone and wait for an invitation to present itself. I've been there too. But, when we lose track of our connections over the summer, we let go of the momentum needed to develop genuine friendships. Creating community in the summer means loving each other as we should every day. It's about seeking each other, not going to events out of obligation. What does that look like in practice? First of all, know that you are God's creation and you have something to contribute. The idea of cliques and distancing ourselves from others is entirely human-made. It usually stems from our fears of harm, judgment, or rejection. However, God's purpose is for us to selflessly care for one another as one body. The Bible tells us,
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ."- 1 Corinthians 12:12
That is what it means when you hear that the Church is "the body of Christ." All who follow Jesus make up different parts, and we each have a unique function to work together. When we aren't sure what tools we have, we can talk to God and consider our spiritual gifts.To help you begin, ask yourself, “What does community mean to me?” Do you see yourself teaching others or encouraging teachers? Do you have a stable home to offer hospitality to people that aren't near their families? Are you searching for a place to belong? How can you use your skills and interests to gather people? Are you open to planning a vacation or summer adventure with people you don't know well? What are some ways you can serve in your community? What can you do?If you're an "outsider," it's okay to start tentatively, but you have to start somewhere. Search for Bible studies and groups that meet in summer and reach out to your church when you don’t know what you’re looking for. Invite people for weekend fun (swimming, kayaking, or if you have a quirky hobby!), and offer to join others in what they like to do. Don't push yourself until you tap out—instead, open doors to natural opportunities to bond with others. If you need more places to meet people, try volunteering or forming a summer club in your area.For those of you who are settled down and have time to offer, you have an important calling to support your community. Think about what summer looks like for you and your family, and look at how you can provide belonging to others. Can you invite someone to dinner every weekend? Can you host outings for young adults? Do you want to lead a Bible study? Is there a struggling family you can help? Your time matters and you serve when you invite people to share it with you. We want to help you connect year-round! Reach out to us anytime or sign up to lead a group. You can also check out opportunities to serve locally or join others on a mission trip.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.