Written by William Dmytrow
People need people. A strong community is something everyone cherishes, and more importantly, it is something God cherishes.
Psalm 133:1 states, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
In Hebrews 10:25 the author asserts, “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Jesus modelled building a strong community by walking alongside and discipling 12 close followers. When people are living in unity together with a shared goal of following Jesus, this might be one of the most beautiful things ever.
Maybe it’s so beautiful because it lines up with God’s original designs in creation. God created Adam and Eve to be in community together in the same way He has created us to be in community.
Part of the beauty of community is that it brings out in us creativity that can glorify Him. I can think of three ways that community cultivates creativity.
1. Community encourages us to pursue our full creative potential
Encouragement affirms our abilities or calls it out in areas we might not have recognized in ourselves. I don’t mean the kind of encouragement that involves praising each other 24/7.
Our encouragement can go deeper than that—challenging and supporting one another to keep pursuing what God has given us to do. It can also mean encouraging us towards more genuine relationships with the Lord.
It takes work and devotion to discover our own unique ways of expressing ourselves to the Lord and others; it’s often a vulnerable, scary place.
But God has an important call for every one of us. That’s why it’s vital to have a community who will encourage us to cultivate our gifts.
2. Community gives us fresh perspectives
If we learn a single-minded way of doing something, it will eventually polarize our thoughts until we think that way must be right (even if it’s not). However, different viewpoints challenge that perception.
Although this may involve disagreement, it will allow us to think more critically. And thinking critically invites humility and wiser, more nuanced views. In turn, this leads to deeper, better creativity and more open minds and hearts.
3. Community calls us forward
Committed participation in a strong Christian community will push us to become more like Jesus. Such a community helps us focus on how to use our gifts for God’s purposes instead of our own selfish desires.
Just as encouragement reminds us not to discount what we have to offer, so being surrounded by other kingdom-minded people keeps our priorities in the right place. Those around us can (gently) haul us back to stable ground when we’re driven by our egos or only focused on the material outcomes of our creativity.
God has gifted each of us uniquely. But we need strong communities to help us develop these gifts in the best ways, in connection with the truth of the gospel and what it reveals about our identity through Jesus.
The goal of all followers of Jesus is to love others, and more importantly, to love God. When this is at work, we will be called higher as creative beings, both individually and collectively.