By: Amanda Frittz
Last time we chatted about community, we talked about places where you could find Biblical fellowship. Now that we’ve hit the bases of where you can find people who are interested in living out life together I think it’s important we talk about intentionality and growing a rich community.
A deep-rooted community doesn’t just happen by accident. It takes effort. Take your relationship with God, for example, if you don’t spend time trying to get to know Him you are not going to feel close to Him. You have to put in the effort before you get a rich and meaningful relationship. The same thing is true with people.
Changing how you interact with people can be really hard though! I certainly am not naturally someone who can build meaningful relationships with anyone I meet. I’m actually an extreme introvert, so I’m probably the exact opposite.
Though I’m introverted I still desire to have a rich and growing community. I love connecting with people, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. Luckily over the past year of being immersed in a deep community (and experiencing college before that), I have picked up some tricks on how to meet people and how to build deep relationships.
1) Don’t Be Afraid to Take Initiative
Trust me, I know how it feels to be afraid to go up to people. I’m as introverted as it gets. If you want a growing community, however, you need to be willing to be the person that starts conversations. Chances are you aren’t the only person in the room that’s afraid of it.
I’ve been nudged to do this countless times by Adam or friends that know me well. Sometimes I need the nudge to make my way across the room and begin conversations with people I hardly know. Once I get a conversation started I’m always so glad I forced myself (or someone forced me) to take the initiative.
2) Invest Your Time
If you want meaningful relationships you need to have quality time with each other. You can’t continue to deepen a relationship if you don’t have time to pour into it.
The exact time you have to invest will look different for everyone, but just make sure it’s a priority. Try to schedule at least one social event a week outside of your church. This small investment will reap rich relationships over time.
3) Practice Vulnerability
Sometimes you just have to lead by example. If you desire relationships where people are willing to be vulnerable, you first need to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is extremely uncomfortable at first. As social creatures, we are often fearful of rejection. However, being vulnerable can strengthen your relationships. Letting your guard down is essential to having true friends who know the real you.
If you struggle with vulnerability I highly recommend binge-watching Brene Brown in addition to prayer and practicing letting your guard down. Brene Brown has completely transformed my husbands thought process on being vulnerable.
4) Ask Real Questions
Dig deep! Small talk is great when you’re talking to an acquaintance but we don’t want to keep people at arm’s length forever.
Show interest in peoples lives. Ask questions, and show that you’re listening. If someone says they’re doing okay take the time to ask, “why?” Don’t just move onto the next question because it’s easier. I get it, autopilot conversations take less effort. You don’t have to listen closely, and you don’t have to take time to consider your response. However, autopilot conversations aren’t fruitful.
If you’re taking the time to have a conversation with someone you can try to make it meaningful. Dig deeper. A conversation can start at surface level, but it’s much more edifying when one or both people open up.
5) Be Intentional
Being intentional takes compassion and discipline. This is a skill I am still trying to perfect (like a lot of these… lol).
Once you get someone to open up, it’s important to show that you care about them and that you are honored that they have chosen to be vulnerable with you. So, if someone says they are struggling with something make sure to check in with them next time you see them or even throughout the week. Be supportive and offer encouragement. Consider even coming prepared when meeting them next time with questions or Bible verses. It’s these check-ins and extra effort that will make them feel heard and cared about.
If I don’t remind myself to remember something I will forget it.
Most people (myself included) do not naturally put this much effort into relationships. I have to remind myself and focus on being intentional with my friendships and marriage. Otherwise, I will get consumed by the business of my week and forget to reach out during the week or come prepared the next time I see them.
6) Serve Without Expecting Anything
One-sided relationships are not ideal. However, no one should serve with the intention to receive something back eventually.
Jesus died for all sinners, even the ones who denied him and lead him to his death. He had the ultimate servants heart. We should try to model his heart, and work on our desire to serve others even when it’s not convenient or beneficial to us.
Loving people this way can transform peoples hearts. When people receive love with no agenda it softens their hearts and reveals God’s love. So even if people start out by not reciprocating love over time you may see your genuine love and serving them has transformed how they reciprocate love.
Our prayers have power. If you desire to have a growing community then ask God for what you desire.
Not only can you ask God for deep relationships, but you can pray for the people that are in your life already. Pray for their hearts, and pray for your own heart. Pray for a desire for community and wisdom in how to be intentional.