And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.Acts 2:47-48
In my last post, I talked about how we’re made for community. I shared what my faith community looked like and meant to me in college, and why community is crucial when we want to grow deeper in our faith. You might be thinking, “Okay, I get it, but how do I create a community?” When you don’t have a youth or young adult group or a Newman Center to go to, you might find yourself tasked with creating a community of your own. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to foster a faith community. We can’t deepen our faith on our own, and we shouldn’t have to. There are so many ways to bring people together to grow in holiness. Be intentional and open, and use these five ways to create community wherever you go.
1 Make intentional invitations.
Sending a mass email, making a Facebook post, or posting on your Instagram story is generally a great way to get the word out about something. This form of reaching out to people might bring some people to Bible Study or small group with you, but it comes off as impersonal. While general invitations are good, making intentional invitations is better. To make an intentional invitation means to reach out to someone personally, whether it be through a face-to-face conversation, a phone call, or a nice text. For example, you can reach out to your friend, roommate, or whoever sits next to you in class to let them know about your Bible Study. Tell them what you’ll be doing, why you love it, and that you think they’d love it as well. Especially when you let them know that you’d love for them to be there, people will feel more welcome and wanted at your event when you’re intentional about the invite.
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2 Host small gatherings of your own.
Whether you’re leading a Bible Study or small group or you want to have some friends over for dinner or coffee, don’t be afraid to initiate a little get-together. It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. We’re called to do little things with great love, so we can be simple yet intentional in our hospitality. I always loved when my girl friends and I would get together in one of our apartments for tea and Lectio Divina or the rosary, and we would stay to talk for hours. Praying, talking, and sharing meals is a great way to create community. These little gatherings allow us to meet new people and strengthen preexisting relationships. If there are any new faces, be sure that they’re being seen and heard and that they feel welcome.
Read more about Lectio Divina in What is Lectio Divina?
3 Make people feel welcome wherever you go.
FOCUS’s mission involves investing the few to reach the many. This method of spiritual multiplication is great because we can form disciples who will become disciple makers of their own. While it’s good to invest deeply in a few, it’s still important to meet new people. We can create community with people as soon as we meet them if we’re open, and having a friendly, welcoming demeanor is key. If you run into someone new at Mass, in small group, or even at the store, smile, introduce yourself, and ask for their name. If you’re not the best with names, try repeating your new friend’s name during your conversation. It’ll help you remember it, and people love hearing their name. Maintain friendly eye contact and offer a handshake or a hug. All of these things will open the door to holding a meaningful conversation. Once you’ve gotten to know your new friend, you can give them your phone number or invite them to go to Mass or get coffee with you!
4 Hold meaningful conversations.
People like to talk about themselves, and they’ll usually share a lot about themselves if you give them the opportunity and show that you’re really listening. If you’ve exhausted the “What do you do?” and “What’s your major?” questions, dive a little deeper by asking how they chose their major, who their favorite professor is, and what their favorite thing about their major is. It can be fun to ask something completely random, like “If you were a kitchen appliance, what would you be and why?” As crazy as it sounds, you learn a lot about a person this way, and I’ve heard it spark some great conversations. Finally, don’t be afraid to bring up faith. I know that along with politics, religion can be a taboo subject, but people are generally down to talk about it and share their experiences. You never know until you ask, and you never know who’d be willing to go to Bible Study with you until you invite them.
5 Offer to pray with and for people.
You’re faith community will plateau if you don’t pray together regularly. Facilitating prayer can take many different forms. You could do a sunrise Lectio Divina or Liturgy of the Hours session, commit to going to daily Mass together on Wednesdays, or invite your girls over for tea and rosary. While having these structured, tangible ways to pray is great, impromptu prayers are just as powerful. If someone tells you about something they’re struggling with, let them know that you’ll pray for them. When you remember them and their intentions in your prayers, you can text them to let them you know you’re prayed for them. If you’re comfortable, you can offer to pray with them or over them. When my friends prayed with me like this, I felt Jesus in them. I grew so much closer to my friends and God this way. When you pray with your faith community, you’ll be inspired and inspire others to delve deeper into their prayer life by helping them encounter the Lord.
Read more about praying for others in 5 Fruitful Ways to Practice Intercessory Prayer!
There are lots of other ways to build community, but hopefully these five can get you started. Whether you’re just getting started on your faith community or if it’s flourishing and you want it to grow, following these tips will help. No matter what, keep praying for yourself, for the people who you’ll encounter, and for the people in your community. No matter what you do within your community, keep your sights on Heaven and our Father and don’t stop striving for Sainthood!
How do you build community in your life? Let me know in the comments below!
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