Creating meaningful bonds within your church community

Written by J.M. Bergman

We share a blood connection with the family we were born into, but Jesus’ definition of family goes deeper than that. He emphasizes connections through shared values, morals, and action. In Matthew 12:48-50, He told His disciples: “Whoever does the will of my Father is my brother and sister and mother.”

It’s this mindset that Trails Church in Winnipeg, Man. is seeking to live out.

“The church is a family that has bonds deeper than blood, culture, or any other temporal bond,” says the church’s pastor, Nino Marques. “It is a safe community with one heart and mind where no one feels neglected.”

It is in churches like this where people feel safe enough to express their needs and vulnerabilities.

Further, once these needs have been made known, others in the church family can reach out and fulfill them. Marques has seen this in action—when a need arises, the entire community mobilizes, providing meals or other forms of support. “The way we live will reflect what our hearts truly love and want to pursue,” he says. 

One of the ways congregants connect with each other is through a variety of small groups. These groups aim to make meeting together regularly a normal rhythm of life. To augment in-person connection points, Trails uses a messaging app that hosts various chat rooms and allows for connection every day of the week.

Within each small group, this provides space where members can dialogue about events and personal needs. A main chat is accessible to everyone in the church; here, pastors and staff share theological content as well as updates about various church activities.

There are men’s and women’s chatrooms for issues that are gender specific, a Trails Kids’ chat with resources on parenting, and a prayer chat for anyone who wants to share requests, testimonies, or needs. The app is also a place for newcomers to explore ministry options and get connected. 

The church also hosts a podcast called Base Camp, where hosts engage in conversation about sensitive topics including the theology of sexuality, gender, and anxiety. These conversations demonstrate to members of the congregation that they can share their questions, hardships, and struggles and be met with council and acceptance.

Jesus defines family as doing life together in obedience to God—including with those not related to us. Family means celebrating personal victories in intimate community and holding each other up in hard seasons. This kind of family, as Marques says, “is miraculous, and can only be born from work of the Holy Spirit.”