My house is too small. At least that's what I tell myself. But then I remember that not every newlywed couple lives in a 3,000 square foot home in their first year of marriage. That year, after one of our roommates got engaged and moved out, we decided it was time to look for our own place. I know what you're thinking...a married couple living with other people? You just have to understand. This house was so big! Sometimes I even lost my husband in it. I mean God forbid dinner was ready and he was in the loft. Screaming didn't suffice. Someone find us some walkie talkies!
Anyway, back to my point...We traded in our 3,000 square foot existence in the heart of Rosemont, a beautiful neighborhood in Old Town Alexandria, for a 1,000 square foot townhouse just north of old town and just far enough to be driving distance away.
We always said we wanted an open home; a place where family, friends, people, travelers, strangers, and the needy could come in, feel welcome, and enjoy some good food and conversation. We agreed that we both wanted community to be part of our lives, but making that happen was another story.
A few months ago, I attended a national women's conference via telecast (that I will be blogging about very soon) which took place in Austin. They set aside a special segment of the Friday night session to talk about the "Ministry of the Table." The concept really hit home for me and my friend (who was attending the conference with me via Mac Book and a Bed and Breakfast). The idea was to think of women who you could have come around your table, break bread with, and create a space for having deeper more authentic community.
I loved the idea. L-O-V-E-D it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I began to think about how to incorporate this idea into my life and, for goodness sake, get over my insecurities about my house.
OK. Have some ladies over for dinner-check. Talk about big life issues-check. Meet new people-check. Foster community among other believers and encourage them to do the same-CHECK!!!
But what about the boys? I loved Women's Ministry, but Michael and I had dreamed of building community together. However, I didn't know if he would go for the idea.
I decided to talk to him about it. I formulated the speech in my head and was ready to present. Well, needless to day, he was totally on board. So we decided to host our first session of "The Table" at our house the end of March and invited a small smattering of other young couples to attend. We really didn't know what to expect or what we were doing. We pulled together some table talk questions and kindly warned guests that things might get a little personal.
Well to say it was a success might be an understatement. We had a fabulous time and were so blessed by how our friends responded to the questions, their openness, and experiencing their shared passion for building community. God just used the time in such a wonderful way.
Moving forward we want to foster community with other believers and inspire them to do the same. Many lonely, struggling hearts can be reached through the kindness and generosity of God's people. We want to spread this passion. Besides it's not our idea to build community, its God's. We just have the privilege of executing it on His behalf.
Acts 2:42-47 says:
"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their 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."
I just love these verses. They make my heart leap. The idea of having that kind of depth in a community is so exciting to me. I just can't wait to see where this all goes. Michael and I don't really have a plan, so it will be fun to see how God fills in the blanks.
If you are interested in doing something similar in your own home, I am listing our discussion questions below so you can launch your own conversations about community among the people in your church or sphere of influence.
Here you go...
1. What is authentic community? What does it look like to you?
2. Is there a time, now or in the past, that you felt part of a real community? What made it so impactful for you? How did it influence you?
3. What are some reasonable, actionable next steps that you can take to foster community in your own town, neighborhood, workplace, or church?
If you have any thoughts or ideas, please leave them in the comments below. We would love to hear from you and hear about creative ways that you are fostering community where you are.