Whitefield Academy Blog
3 Ways to Bring Widespread Communities Closer
I’ve found myself lamenting our widely dispersed communities lately. Our church draws people from all over the Kansas City area, so the majority of our friends live at least twenty minutes away. Our school is similar, reaching areas as spread out as Lee’s Summit, Leawood, Shawnee, North Kansas City, and Belton. After-school games and activities will send us out west one day and way out east another.
After reading books such as The Benedict Option and The Awakening of Miss Prim, I’m drawn to the idea of a close-knit, like-minded “village,” if you will, of believers. And with the looming threat of Christian freedoms being taken away, a cul-de-sac of families who parent alike, educate alike, and worship alike is tempting and even comforting, albeit slightly homogenous. Acts 2 describes the early church as living together, feeding each other spiritually on a daily basis so that they could then go out and be effective champions of the Gospel to a hungry world. That daily, communal support is beautiful and desirable.
I realize my cul-de-sac dream is unlikely (though feel free to call me if you want to start one), so how do we foster this closeness and fellowship that we desire in an age where communities are spread not just across the city but across state lines?
First we have to realize that being spread out means that we have to be intentional in fellowshipping with the people we love. The ease with which we get sucked into the pattern of wake up, work, television, sleep is alarming and sad. Intentionality means scheduling time together and actually following through. Intentionality also means being purposeful with the time together: “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thes. 5.11).
Hospitality fits into this in two ways. The first is that a part of scheduling time together means opening your homes to each other. Watch your friends’ kids so that they can have a date night. Host a weekly coffee. Break bread together at your table. Be “hospitable on purpose” as this article argues. The second is that hospitality is a way to bring your physically immediate community (ie. your actual neighbors) into your spiritual community. In her book, The Gospel Comes With A House Key, Rosaria Butterfield argues that our homes should be the front lines of spreading the Gospel. Welcome non-believers in with open arms and share the love of Christ with your word and deed.
Do It Now
You are not ever going to a have a house that’s big enough or a budget that’s big enough or free time that’s big enough. Don’t put off the sweet fellowship of believers until some unknown time in the future. We also can’t wait for things to get “bad enough” for Christians in the United States to draw near to each other. Build the relationships now so that we have a strong foundation for when the storms begin to blow.
Raising a family that is counter-cultural is hard. We might be the weirdos going to church instead of soccer on Sundays or the parents who make our kids’ friends put their phones in a basket when they come in our door. Being physically distant from those who agree with us and support us can be difficult, but it gives us all the more reason to be intentional about drawing near together and building one another up.