Lately, I've been thinking a lot about authentic community and wondering what it looks like. Luckily, I've had some pretty good examples of it.
The small group that my husband and I attend led us to some of our closest friends—people who call us to come over to watch the Blackhawks game and make us delicious dinner, or ask us to watch their kids while they run out for a quick errand.
My husband and I recently hosted an outdoor dinner party that reminded me of the importance of creating a space where everyone can contribute something. So we welcomed baking skills and chopping skills and playlist-making skills and setting-up skills to the event. Without each addition, it wouldn't have been possible.
My women's small group makes me look forward to Mondays. One meeting we can be grabbing a box of tissues as we console a group member in a tough relationship. The next, we'll be bent over laughing at a story someone tells. Another meeting we'll be digging into John 3, asking important questions about baptism. It's hard to believe we were all strangers a few months ago.
And a group of friends recently came to my house, and I glowed when I realized they had refrigerator rights, helping themselves to whatever was in our refrigerator. We sat chatting about careers and marriages and identity late into the night.
This is authentic community. People coming together with their lives and arms open wide. Offering skills given to the group. Giving and taking in mutual relationships. Finding a rhythm of fun and study and joy and sadness. And it's in this context of authentic community that we grow and learn, that we are challenged to become all God intends us to be.
When have you experienced authentic community? What does it take to form authentic relationships?