My wife and I have been attending a community of newly married couples at our church since our wedding earlier this summer. It’s a very dynamic class with a constant flow of people coming and going.
This class has illustrated how many people today – whether single or married – are finding themselves in a new place and searching for community. And let’s face it. Building community can be challenging, even for the strongest extroverts.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to intentionally build community when you find yourself in a new place or in a new season of life.
1. Go Where The People Are
When you’re looking to build community, intentionally surround yourself with people as much as possible. Being in a new place is often stressful. It can be tempting to spend our free time recovering from this stress at home and alone.
But to build community, you must make yourself go to new places where you can meet new people. Of course, there may be awkward moments, and you might feel like a fish out of water at times, but it will get better.
Along with going where the people are, discipline yourself to introduce yourself to others. This isn’t always easy, but community builders must learn to initiate conversations. What should you talk to them about? Good question. It’s time for #2.
2. Follow The Golden Rule Of Friendship
I learned the “Golden Rule of Friendship” from a book called “The Like Switch.” I recommend it if you are looking to build community. One of the strongest arguments in the book is that if you want people to like you, you have to make them feel great about themselves…yes, themselves. This is an important point.
Most of us believe the opposite is true. We believe people will like us as we focus our conversation on convincing them how great we are. But the golden rule of friendship flips this advice on its head. Spend your time with new people taking an interest in them. Ask them about them about themselves and show a genuine interest in who they are and what they enjoy. Find out what they love and celebrate them. They won’t be able to help liking you, because you make them feel great about themselves.
3. Focus On Shared Interests
In those early conversations, make a goal of finding shared interests that you can turn into future shared experiences. Do they like a sport, a team or an activity? Invite them to watch it or play it with you. Don’t wait for someone else to make community happen. You make it happen by being proactive. See yourself as a community maker, even if it doesn’t always come naturally.
I have a friend who does this very well. A few years ago, he created a Facebook group called “Sports in the Park” and invited all his friends. Who doesn’t like playing games in the park on a sunny day? For the last several years, hundreds of people have been gathering in parks, enjoying games and sunshine, all while building new friendships. My friend has created community for countless people, all because he took some initiative.
4. Ask The Creator Of Community
I believe God has created us for community. It was God who first observed, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18) and commanded, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). God loves community. The Bible displays over and over that God wants his people to enjoy being a part of loving families and communities.
Asking God for community and believing that He is able to bring it into our lives is one best ways to pursue community. God loves to satisfy his people with healthy community. Jesus once summed up our prayer lives as “Ask and receive” (Matt. 7:7). It’s as simple as that. Ask God for community and believe He will provide according to the richness of his love and mercy.
With these steps, the prospect of moving somewhere unfamiliar to you or beginning a new season of life don’t seem so daunting. Are you ready to start building community?
You may also be interested in How To Be A Good Neighbor & Create A Supportive Community
My challenge with building community is finding folks who share my interests who are my age! I hate to say it, but the senior set doesn’t like to camp or hike, often because of disabilities which come with age. People who like and are able to do what I do are often 20 years younger.