Lots of studies have linked social media with anxiety and depression. It makes sense. Reading about and checking out the pictures of the perfect lives, stellar jobs, and well-mannered, scripture memorizing, honor roll children can make a regular life, regular job, and regular family seem unfortunate. In many ways, the image portrayed on Instagram reflects the image that has been portrayed in our churches for decades. Hair is brushed. Bible is dusted. Praise God, life is great.
Except when it isn’t. Could we dare to share more of life than our Christmas letter bullet points or status updates?
Imagine if the church modeled authentic community. It would be sure to splash over into our neighborhoods, work places, and even our social media sites. Being cautious not to oversimplify, I am sure that authentic community would cause anxiety and depression to decrease and joy, peace, and personal growth to increase. Jesus modeled the sharing of all emotions with others. He wept, he turned over tables in his anger, he enjoyed attending weddings and festivals. He did all of this in the presence of his community. The early church modeled the sharing of life and possessions within community. Paul admitted weakness and shared it openly for the sake of the gospel. Esther confessed her fear to her community and received strength to risk from the support and prayers of that community.
We are better humans and more effective leaders when we do life in community.
Collegiate Ministries make deep impacts on campuses and beyond when students are taught to do life in community. A few tips to help along the way:
- Recognize your own feelings, and express them honestly to others.
- Be intentional about sharing life, or you may not. Invite others to dinner or dessert or coffee.
- Laugh together. Laughter accelerates relationships.
- Acknowledge sin. Ask for forgiveness when you sin against others.
- Share when others have need. Refrigerator rights are important.
- Receive when you have need. Receiving is often more difficult for leader types than sharing.
- Remember that flawed is more appealing in real life (and in virtual life, for that matter) than perfect. Don’t hide your weakness.
- Enlist prayer support. Pray with and for those in your community and for those you would like to be in your community.
- Seek community with those who are different than you. Be careful not to judge. You’ll each grow.
- Celebrate when you find community, and work hard to keep it going.
Scripture to memorize
And every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Thanks to our guest blogger, Linda Halfacre. Linda is a former campus minister (21 years) and National Collegiate Ministry Leader (6 years) and a current Kindergarten teacher. She loves authentic community and is still surprised how rare a find it is.