Cultivating community during Coronavirus can be very successful if you choose a different perspective. Pandemic community will look different but it can still be vibrant!
(To view our Coronavirus Resources Page – Click Here)
Cultivating Community in the Face of a Pandemic
A new way to think about cultivating community in the face of a pandemic:
I’ve been writing about what it looks like to cultivate community through hospitality for 3 years this month (crazy!!!!).
No matter where you’re at in your community cultivating journey, this pandemic has probably led to a lot of loneliness and even discouragement.
If you have a community behind you, you may be finding ways to connect and continue in your relationships but it’s still hard.
If you haven’t made it very far in your community cultivating journey and you were hoping this year would be a huge year for relationship building (I’m looking at all of you who are using your Cultivate Community Binder this year!), this pandemic probably feels like it crushed that dream.
The truth is, we’re all lonely and discouraged right now. We would all love it if the Coronavirus was eradicated and we were allowed to go anywhere with anyone we want. But, because that’s all up in the air and we have no idea when it will really happen, we need to think though what it looks like to be cultivating community in this season.
For your sake, this has been a constant thought and prayer of mine throughout Coronavirus but, for those who are discouraged and struggling in this time, I believe this challenge I’ve dreamt up can offer you some joy and something to look forward to.
Cultivating Community During Coronavirus is Different
The truth is, cultivating community is going to look different for quite awhile. Even as businesses begin to open again and we’re allowed to be in groups, life will not immediately return to normal. It can’t really.
We have been cautioned in this time to not only fear the virus but to feel other people because they are carriers of the virus. For many, dinner invitations and church services will still be filled with anxiety and discouragement for a long time. Those warnings and cautions aren’t erased from the mind quickly.
So, how can we continue to reach out and bless others? How can we grow and even develop a community in this challenging and very unique season? Can God actually use this not only for our individual good (as he teaches us difficult lessons) but also for our communal good (as he forms friendships and provides evangelistic opportunities)?
I am fully persuaded that God can do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine in this season. It is ours only to trust him and step forward in faith.
I have some good news for you. If you’ve been discouraged and struggling with loneliness and isolation in a whole new way in this season, there is hope.
This season can actually HELP our community cultivating efforts.
Before you roll your eyes and click the back arrow out of this article, hear me out…
For a Little Background
My husband and I moved to a new and very busy area (DC) last fall. After 6 months of putting ourselves out there and diligently working to meet people and form relationships, we were finally starting to feel at home in our new place. We were developing friendships.
Then the Coronavirus hit and everything came to a halt.
My husband and I felt like we would be starting all over when this finally ends and we were discouraged.
To add to that discouragement, I felt unsure how to help others cultivate community. Everything I thought I’d learn about building community was suddenly put on hold indefinitely and I was frustrated.
But God had other plans in this season, and I’m so grateful he did!
After much thought and prayer, I now believe our community may be deeper when this is over and I’m so excited to share this possibility with you!
I desperately miss people! I miss giving hugs and sharing meals and the hustle and bustle of our ordinarily filled little home.
But I’ve actually been able to build several relationships during this season. Several people I felt like I didn’t know well have now become friends.
We Have a Choice to Make
We all feel lonely. We all miss interacting, even on a surface level, with other people.
We have a choice to make. Social distancing can make us bemoan our loneliness OR it can cause us to move closer to people, to reach out to acquaintances and people we have fringe relationships with or members of our churches we don’t yet know and pull them close with care and genuine love.
Everyone is lonely right now and I’ve found its much less awkward to send messages and cards than it was before because everyone is so desperate for connection!
My kids and I sat down this week and made a list of people we want to bless during this pandemic. For many, it will mean simple cards and small gifts. For one friend this week it meant our community group doing a drive-by parade. For still others, it means dropping off cookies or a meal on their doorstep.
I desperately want the leave this difficult time having loved people well. I want to see the community I am trying to cultivate blossom, by God’s grace, and I do believe it’s possible.
Cultivating community doesn’t have to stop in the face of COVID-19. We just have to look at it from a different perspective.
A Challenge to Help
So, the challenge I have for you is to make a list of all the people you want to bless during this pandemic. Think of your friends, near and far, family members, neighbors, church members, church leaders, and acquaintances you’ve been hoping to build relationships with.
We’re all desperate for relationship right now and the beautiful thing about that is there has never been a time in our lifetime that a simple connection has meant so much.
The relationships we form right now can live well beyond the fear and frustration of this pandemic to mean real community for us and those around us for the longterm.
Actively working with this thought in mind could mean it’s actually EASIER to cultivate community right now. It could mean that your efforts at welcoming and loving others could move MUCH QUICKER.
If you’ve been discouraged by the isolation and loneliness you’ve felt in the face of so much busyness around you, you have a tremendous opportunity right now! Life has slowed for so many people; so many are in need of encouragement and genuine help.
THIS is an opportunity, fellow Christian, for showcasing the love of Christ through the hands and feet of his church, and, as we do that, we can watch God cultivate a beautiful community right around us.
Begin with your challenge list (pretty printable version available in the resource library linked below!).
Then start working on ways you will bless these people.
If you would like some practical, simple ways to serve and bless those around you, check out this post filled with ideas about how to love DURING social distancing.
No Reason to Fear
We don’t live in fear of judgment or death if we are in Christ. Because of Christ’s love for us, everything ultimate has lost its ability to cause fear. So, we can step boldly toward community cultivating and offer others the hope and love that drives out fear.
A fear riddled world is a perfect place to reach out with the love of Christ.
May we do so with joy and holy boldness and watch God make the seeds of community we plant blossom into fields of fruit for his glory and our good.