By Lydia Jentzen Will

My phone vibrates and I check it to see an email from a friend. My encourager. Before I even open the email, I have a feeling about what she’s going to say. She’s got a gift and she knows how to use it. Sure enough, there it is, in black and white but I feel warm all over. A word of encouragement just when I needed it most. In my life, in my community, this friend allows herself to be used by God in a beautiful way, right where she is. And it is life changing.

She’s got a gift and she knows how to use it.

These days, community can be hard to come by. It isn’t a matter of cost, but a matter of worth. Globally, cultures and communities manage this. Families with  seemingly nothing to offer others, barely scraping by on their own, they manage to be a blessing to one another.

So why, here in America, do we feel so cut off? Why, in our ultra-connected society, are we so alone?  I believe it’s because we do not value this until we need it. We don’t have time for service when we are so busy building our own lives, only to find that when we need help, there is none to be found.

As a church, we are called to invest in one another. We are called to build community with one anothersharing the blessings and burdens of real life, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and to admit that we need one another.

When we allow ourselves to be woven into community together, we get to experience all of the gifts of God. Not just the ones we ourselves have been given, but those we see playing out in the lives of those around us. Life in community gives us a richer view of God’s best for all.

When we allow ourselves to be woven into community together, we get to experience all of the gifts of God.

We were never meant to be walled up alone. Sitting shoulder to shoulder each week during church, never going beyond the superficial. If we know and love our neighbors we can serve them better. If we share our gifts, our church community becomes a more rich and vibrant place, alive with His Spirit reaching through ordinary people and touching the lives of all.

That is a breathtaking thing to be a part of. An incredible gift that He didn’t have to leave us, but did. Something for us, not to lock up tightly away from the world, but to extend outward with His help.

Life in community gives us a richer view of God’s best for all.

For a while, I didn’t know where my place was in the church. I attended services each week with my family and skedaddled quickly afterward to get the babies down for naps and everyone fed lunch. I didn’t feel like I had a place because my time and life was pretty much spoken for already.

I knew serving my family was serving God, but I hoped for some other way to be involved. It has been such a blessing to me to be a part of this blogging project, a way that I can be involved while still living the life I’ve been called to here at home. It has helped me connect with my church family in ways I never thought possible. It has changed my spiritual life for the better.

Embracing community and the unique gifts God has equipped each one of us with requires us to accept the innate human dignity of each and every person. When we work together to find ways to express those gifts, we are reminded that each person has a purpose and a place. Young and old and everyone in between – a way that they fit to help complete the puzzle. Everyone belongs because everyone has something to offer. Some way God is working within them to create something beautiful.

Everyone belongs because everyone has something to offer.

A church alive with the spiritual gifts of God nurtured and expressed through each member is the picture of godly community. Something I’m thrilled to be a part of as I continue to see Him working through each and every one of us.