Two weeks ago, our church hosted its last section party of the summer. This is a new idea we’re trying where we pick one section of seats at Sunday worship and invite everyone sitting there to brunch after the service. It’s another way for our people to meet one another and connect in community. And at this last section party something very encouraging happened.
There was a gentleman at one of the front tables who seemed quiet. I thought he was probably shy, or maybe bored. But as he started to chat with the other people at his table, he revealed that his father had just died. He was struggling with grief right there in the party. Immediately, someone else at the table suggested that they pray for him, and those other brothers and sisters — strangers to him 15 minutes before — gathered around him in prayer. Phone numbers were exchanged. And pats on the back. It was encouraging to watch, and it reminded me of two truths about community.
First, vulnerability is powerful. That table instantly reached a deeper level of care for one another because that gentlemen was honest about his struggle. And no one censured him. No one said, “C’mon man. We just met you. It’s too early to start talking about death.” Authenticity is the fuze that lights true community.
And secondly, this isn’t rocket science. For all the books and conferences and pastor groups I get to enjoy, it’s good for me to be reminded occasionally that it doesn’t take an expert to connect in community. Those people around the table knew just what to do without an hour-long training and inspirational video. The trick is just to get people around a table. They can take it from there.
Our groups will be well-served if we remember those lessons. Vulnerability is powerful. And our command is simple: love one another.