God’s heart for community is evident throughout so much of the Scriptures. Psalms 133 says “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”. Then in Hebrews 10:24 it says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another….”
These two verses beautifully represent God’s heart for his children to be rooted in community. To me, community is the intentional pursuit of being intertwined in each other’s stories. Its being a part of the highs and the lows together, being hope for each other when needed, having fun together, working together, encouraging one another, helping eachother grow and calling out the gold in one another. Community can look different for everyone but it’s simply being a part of each other’s lives. It doesn’t have to look a certain way, it just has to be valued and be intentional. It never just happens. I believe we will never reach our highest potential outside of community and God intended for it to be that way. We need each other and there is beauty in that.
Here at Bethel Church, we are constantly trying to grow and become better at hosting and sustaining community. I am the Worship Department Manager for Bethel’s Worship Department where we have over 100 people in our worship community. My role includes many different things including, scheduling and staffing our seven weekly services, growing and managing our ever expanding community, working with our events department to host conferences, meeting with local staff, hosting auditions, and the list goes on:) It can be easy sometimes in all of the details to lose sight of the “why”. When you have your head down doing your work, managing the details, you can forget the vision and the heart behind what you’re doing. Community is the lifeline for maintaining vision.
Recently I was in one of those very busy seasons. I was managing a lot of details and finding myself getting lost in the busy work. We had our monthly community meeting and our leader Brian shared his heart with our team. He shared vision and encouragement and reminded us of the reasons why we do what we do. That we are going after more of His presence. That we want to sing and write songs that set people free and glorify Jesus. That we want to let the world know that we serve a good God who loves us and is for us. I found myself in that moment being rejuvenated for the “why”. In those moments, all of the details and busyness make more sense because they are unto something bigger. When we are rooted in community and it’s a part of our daily lives, there is always someone there who has the vision and the why and can help steer us back onto the right course and give perspective.
I believe the purpose of our worship community and any worship community should be rooted in those things. That we are a family, running after the same things together, that can’t be achieved alone.
It can be daunting at times to go after community as a whole but it’s something we are committed to. Our Core Values as a Worship Department include: Valuing the Presence, Excellence, Risk, Growth, Character, Honor, and Community. Part of creating a culture of community starts with it being a high value and priority. For any team, if you dont fight for community, it wont happen. Making it a part of your core values sets the standard that community is important and that it is the mark we are aiming at. It might not always be perfect and it might not meet everyones needs all the time, but we are always moving towards more community. With a larger team like we have, creating intentional points of connection is one of the ways we create a culture of community. One of the ways we like to facilitate community within our worship community is through monthly Community Nights. Because our team is so large and we are always going in so many different directions, we have to have that monthly connection point for our team. We have made these mandatory for our team because we recognize that the health of our community rests in our ability to connect on a regular basis. It’s so easy as a big team to become disconnected and lose sight of the bigger picture and vision. Community Nights are our way of connecting as a team and making sure we are all on the same page together. Our Community Nights always consists of food (best and most important part of every meeting:), testimonies, encouragement, worship and prayer, and hearing from both the leaders and people within our community.
Most church worship departments consists of mainly volunteers as ours does. It can be hard as a leader of volunteers who all have lives outside of the church, who have families and responsibilities and jobs, to not make time for community. The thing I have to constantly remind myself of is that people are not just volunteering their time to fill a slot. They are committing their time and talent to a vision and a purpose. In order to achieve those things, community had to be a priority. Community is longterm. It is what sustains us and helps us be in the race for the long run. Anyone can run short distances alone but to go far, you have to run together.
I would highly encourage every team, no matter the size, to have a monthly team night. It doesnt have to look like ours, but you will be amazed at the fruit that comes from intentionally going after community within your team. I leave every team night encouraged and hopeful for what’s to come.
Community Nights are just a small part of what community looks like for us. Community happens organically throughout our entire team. It is not forced or weird, it’s simply a value for all of us and we try and do as much together as we can. We have by no means arrived, but we are always trying to get better. Do your best and consistently share your heart for community and model it to your team.
Be encouraged as you go after God’s heart for community and unity!