June 19, 2024

School’s Out: 4 Ways Pastors Can Nurture Church Community This Summer

Today’s blog will discuss why it’s important for pastors to preach about community and four ways you can nurture community within your church.

Noah Cecil

Do you remember summers as a kid? Counting down the weeks until school’s over, are you ready to spend your days outside with friends or go on vacation with family?

Unfortunately, as we get older, we don’t quite get that same break. Life gets busier, work typically continues through the summer, and we don’t always prioritize friends and family the way we used to because of it. 

While this might be the natural order of things, it doesn’t have to be. The Church is meant to be of “one body” with Christ (1 Corinthians 12-14), to “Be devoted to one another in love,” and to “Honor one another above yourselves,” as Paul suggests in Romans 12:10

Today’s blog will discuss why it’s important for pastors to preach about community and four ways you can nurture community within your church.

Community as a Calling

There’s a recurring theme of community in the teachings of Jesus and the messages of his disciples that succeed Him. Some examples range from Jesus’s great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) to Jesus’s commandments centered around loving God and one another (John 13:34-35, Matthew 22:36-40), as well as the disciples’ many calls for unity within the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12–20, 1 Peter 4:8–11, Romans 12:9–18).

As the organization Church.org points out: 

“The Holy Bible emphasizes the importance of community throughout its teachings. In Acts 2:42-47, we read that the early Christian community was devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer to foster unity and strength among believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages believers to gather together, stirring one another towards love and good deeds.”

Attending church on Sundays is good for hearing a message and worshiping with others, but it’s also important to build fellowship and community. Through deep relationships with fellow congregants, the church not only grows stronger in the community but also allows the congregation to lift each other up through adversity and spiritual growth.

While cultivating a stronger community within your church might be easier said than done, the following is a list of some ways to do this.

4 Ways to Foster Community Within Your Church

1. Emphasize Biblical Foundation

When it comes to guiding your church, it should be rooted in a strong, biblical foundation. The Bible is rich with passages highlighting the importance of community, fellowship, and mutual support.

By starting with a passage such as Hebrews 10:24-25, pastors can start by speaking on why we should commit to attending church and how we can serve one another as part of a community. In a commentary on this verse, David Platt of the missionary ministry, Radical, says: 

“I want to encourage you to see your church with this perspective. [...] let your motivation be how can I glorify God by encouraging the people in this church. Don’t let it be, ‘Okay how can I be served by this church? How can I go and attend the programs and have my needs met.’[...] Go with the approach of saying, ‘How can I encourage people? I’m going on Sunday to gather with the church and I’m gonna meet together with other followers of Christ in this local church I’m a part of. How can I encourage them? Who can I pray for? Who can I build up? How can I stir others up to love and good works, to help them grow in their relationship with Christ?’”

 Looking at the early Church in Acts 2:42-47, the organization Faithworks Centre observes that:

“In addition to worshipping together and praying with and for one another, we are to meet each other’s physical needs in whatever way we can. Sharing with one another by providing meals, loaning or giving material possessions when needed, helping with a financial emergency, stepping in to help care for someone or their family members… all of these are ways we exhibit a sense of community.”

Pastors can create sermons that delve into these and other scriptures, drawing out the principles of community and explaining how they apply to the modern church context. By emphasizing that building a church community is a good idea and a biblical mandate, pastors can inspire their congregations to value and actively participate in this endeavor.

Advance Your Sermons on Community

When crafting a message on the importance of the church community, pastors can use online sermon writing tools to make the most of their message. These writing tools are efficient ways to generate effective sermon outlines, quickly search verses and Bible stories, create character studies, and even come up with modern-day examples of Biblical stories. 

2. Foster an Inclusive Atmosphere

Inclusivity is vital for a thriving church community. In reference to the importance of Church unity through diversity, Paul tells us “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Pastors should teach that the church is a place for everyone, regardless of background, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or past mistakes. This can be reinforced through sermons but is especially important in the practices and policies of the church.

Creating an inclusive atmosphere might involve offering translation services for non-English speakers or ensuring that church facilities are accessible to people with disabilities. The church can also shed light on certain communities, address issues through a biblical lens, and offer service and aid to those communities through donations or volunteer work.

3. Encourage Small Groups and Ministries

Small groups and specialized ministries are the backbone of a strong church community. These smaller settings allow for deeper relationships and more personalized support than large Sunday services can typically provide. Congregants can have a space where they can reflect on Sunday sermons together, discuss the Bible, and become more involved in each other’s lives, sharing meals, listening to one another, offering advice, praying, and building each other up. Pastors should teach about the value of small groups and encourage church members to join one.

Training leaders for these groups is also crucial. Pastors can hold workshops or training sessions to equip small group leaders with the skills they need to facilitate meaningful discussions, handle conflicts, and care for their group members. 

Having leaders who can drive discussion around heavy topics in small groups and resolve conflicts through accountability (according to Matthew 18:15-17) allows for a more intimate fostering of community. By investing in these leaders, pastors help ensure that the small groups are effective and sustainable.

4. Cultivate a Culture of Prayer

Prayer is a foundational aspect of any Christian community. Pastors should teach about the power of prayer in building unity and fostering spiritual growth. Encouraging congregants to pray for one another, for the church’s leadership, and for the community at large can strengthen the bonds within the church.

Steven Lee of the ministry Desiring God shares a quote by the late Tim Keller on prayer

“By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived. . . . Knowing the Lord is communal and cumulative, we must pray and praise together. That way ‘the more we share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have’” (Prayer, 119).

Organizing prayer groups, regular prayer meetings, or even pre-service prayer gatherings can provide structured opportunities for congregants to come together in prayer. Sharing testimonies of answered prayers can also encourage others’ faith and demonstrate the tangible impact of a praying community.

School’s Out, Community is In

When spending time with friends and family this summer, pastors have the opportunity to emphasize building deeper relationships within the church. Building a strong church community requires intentionality, teaching, and modeling by pastors. By grounding their teachings in scripture, cultivating inclusivity and service, encouraging small groups, and prioritizing social prayer, pastors can nurture a church environment where members feel connected, supported, and empowered to grow in their faith together.

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