Next week Boundless is launching its ROCK THE BODY challenge. The whole idea of this challenge is to recognize the importance of being in Christian community through the local church. There’s been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere about why young adults are leaving the church (Boundless had weighed in here), but for better or worse, we need the church. And to be a complete picture of the body of Christ, the church needs us.
I didn’t recognize just how vital the church is until I experienced a lack of community. And I became convinced that one of Satan’s most effective tools in drawing us away from God is isolation. When we think we’re all on our own and we don’t live our lives in the midst of community, no matter how messy or imperfect it is, we are way more vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.
A few years ago I was in a slump. I was a year into a new job, and I found the learning curve to be crazy-high. I was still grieving the loss of my old job, and this new job was hard. My group of friends, which had felt stable for a long time, was changing, and the security that provided was gone. I had walked away from an unhealthy friendlationship, and I was grieving the loss of what could have been. I sensed God preparing me for something new, and I thought that meant moving to a new city and starting a new job. So I started preparing to leave, even though nothing was confirmed.
So I didn’t commit to a ministry opportunity at my church. Rather than pursue new friendships, I told myself it didn’t matter because I’d be moving anyway. There were days when I was mentally checked out at work because I assumed I’d be starting a new job. I had even made several trips to Goodwill after I started purging all the junk in my house I didn’t want to pack and move. In short, I had started isolating myself from my community.
But the move didn’t happen. God closed the door, and then I was in the same place, but without being plugged into a church, without a strong community of friends, and without much of an investment in my job. I was in no-man’s land; I wasn’t going someplace new, but I wasn’t invested in where I was. And I felt that isolation. Deeply.
It took a while, but I knew I had to decide to be all in wherever I was. Maybe the new adventure I was sensing God had for me was going to happen without going someplace new. It wasn’t an overnight transformation, but I knew I needed to actually pursue community. I tried out a new small group and committed to it. I switched back to a church I had previously attended and got involved by serving in the nursery. I prayed for God to help me have the right attitude at work. I told my friends I was open to being set-up if they knew of any single guys.
There were days when it was easier to stay isolated and not let other people in, but I fought that tendency. And where there had once been the empty space of isolation, there was now community, accountability and life.
Have you experienced a lack of community? Or the benefits of being part of a local church body?