April 16, 2013

Where I write about "Community" - Keepin' it Real!

So - I had scheduled this little post awhile back... just adding the above title to a draft and then put it away for later!

I decided that since I was signed up to host an (in)RL Meet Up in about 10 days... writing about Community - in real life vs. online - would be a good way to think things through here and promote the conference at the same time.

Little did I know that this week... well - there are TONS of link ups and blog posts talking about this buzzword that is often thrown around and sought after, but rarely entered into with all that same fervor.

No - I don't think that a one of us has escaped the temptation to shy away... to build walls... to play it safe... but we were created by a loving God who is made for community... He is relational and personal... and we are called to become ever more like Him.

So - (gulp) here I go... this is my take...

This is me being real and honest and putting my own vulnerable self just right out there...

I am blessed beyond measure to have amazing Communities - both in real life and in cyberspace!

In 'real life': face-to-face, heart-to-heart Community... living real lives - out loud - in good times and in bad... Community that has stuck together through weddings and kids, through church splits and relocations, through divorce and rebellion, through encouraging messages, convicting honesty, and challenging conversations, through urgent prayer requests and glorious testimonies. Sure - some of the 'players' have changed - but that is life. People come and go and some are just in your life for a season.

The thing is - when I say "Community" - I am not saying 'church.' That said, for the most part - my husband and I are blessed with friendships that have stood the test of time - and the tests of the enemy.  Most of them were formed and grew inside of church... but they are not limited to an affiliation.  These friends have seen us at our best, and at our worst.  They have called us on the masks of "fine" or pretending, and held us when we've been broken.  They have helped to bring healing, and lifted us up when we just really wanted to fall down instead. They have been there for us... and us, for them... they are Jesus to us in the times when we really need Him to have skin on.  They are not just ministering to us - but allow us to minister to them as well! We are not a 'project' - nor are they - we are real life friends... family, really. We are blessed.

My 'online' community began really several years ago... way before it was even a 'thing'... my in-the-flesh friends didn't really get how I could spend time on the computer, pouring into people who I didn't really know - but pour, I did.  It was a ministry and I knew it even when I fell prey to the doubting.  

Over the past few years - and the past 6 months in particular - however, my online Community has evolved more and flourished.  It has grown beyond what I ever envisioned it could be! It is much more of a give and take now. I am blessed to have found fellow artists, writers, sisters, kindred spirits... friends who get me - even though they have yet to meet me in person.  Even though - as one of the treasures from my online Community says, they have yet to hug me proper!

It all sounds too dreamy, too oh so charming, and picture-perfect... nearly fictional, really - as in too-good-to-be-true!  It does to me too, at times!

But don't be fooled... life is not picture-perfect.  

I am still longing for Community.

As much as I am blessed with friendships that have spanned decades; friends in whom I have lived Honest and in whom I have been Present and Fully Invested - who have also remained Present and who have Fully Invested right back into me...

...as much as I am blessed with friendships online in whom we skip right over that surface small talk and dive deep right into all the Real and the Hard and the Truth of the Matters...

I attend a church where I can feel extremely invisible... I can go to church on any given Sunday, walk in, sit down, worship, (even go through the meet-n-greet ritual,) listen to the Word preached, and go home,

...and never have felt like I was a part of something...  

Now - I fully realize that much of this is my own fault.

I actually have nothing against my church.  Though my approach to what I feel church should look like differs from how things are right now, I think my church is a great church, with a powerful vision, great ministries, good hearts... and while I have nothing against it... I wish I could be all in.

Oh, I was for a season.

You see - I feel so called to a world beyond the walls of a church building... and I believe we ARE the church wherever we go... but after a few years of going to this somewhat large church, I began to tire of feeling insignificant and not a part.  So - we did what we knew would work.  We jumped in and signed up and found ourselves actively 'involved'... all good things!  Instantly - we had friends... we found 'Community' and we were a part!  We were also at church several days per week and after a season, I looked around and found that once again - all of our friendships were confined to inside those 4 walls.

This is fine for some... most even maybe... but here's the thing:

We know that we've been called

to be the church outside of the church...
to not only live out loud among the 'unchurched'
but to live in love among the 'other churched'.

We've been Ruined by Grace...

& Saturated by Love...

I've been laid out low & bowed down flat

& encountered the Lord first hand,
where He held my hand
& told me to read Hosea
& to see how He is not wanting me
to call Him 'My Master'
(although He is that!),
but to call Him 'My Husband'
(He is that too!)

So - we stepped back... not from everything, but from most things!

We were not disgruntled or wounded...
just making room to get back to what we are called to do.
In doing that, we once again seemed to fade back into invisibility.
I have found that to really be a part of Community inside,
it often takes up all of my time... when what I am called to
is to be a part of Community outside.  

I'd love to be both... to have my circles overlap...

to be able to live and serve and be fed in one place...
I'm getting closer... I'm seeing that it can happen
- and it's up to me!  

So - as part of taking a risk and reaching out 

- I am hosting an (in)RL Meet Up
for the (in)Courage unConference.
On April 26th and 27th, all around the globe...
women will gather... women like you and women like me
- who are hungering for Community and connection
and to be heard and seen
and to be a part of something...

We will step across fear, and bridge over shyness...

We will risk leaving our masks at home
and we will meet up - (in)RL
- and Talk Real and Live Out Loud
and Be Present and Create Community
in homes and churches and coffeehouses all over.

We will Linger over Coffee and Laugh on Couches,

Talk about Truth, and Pray as Sisters...
some will show up strangers,
but my prayer is that none will leave that way!

No - we will create community in real life...

and build our lives out loud from there!

Join us, won't you?  Click on this link here to see

if there is a Meet Up scheduled in your area...

If there is - take a risk... be bold...

sign up and arrive expecting friendship to be waiting for you!

If there isn't... take a risk(ier risk?)... be bold(er?)...

sign up to host... and create an atmosphere that breeds Community
- no matter where, or who, or when!

Where do you go to find Community?

How do you balance life inside & outside of church...
or (in)RL & online for that matter?
I'd love to here!

Speak Life.  Be Love.  Shine On.



  1. aww love this, Eric and I are in a season of making new friends and it is so hard to open up to trust after being hurt but we long for it, we crave it, I feel my online friends have helped me with my real life, trusting and opening up to those new friends. thank you for being a great friend someday I will meet you and hug you

  2. Wow. So much goodness in this post. I need to share it... I love the part where you mention that your you are not a project but Jesus to one another...yes. The church messes up relationship and community by trying to make people projects. And it just ain't Jesus like, I'll tell you. You are blessed, m friend!


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