Why You Need Community


Why You Need Community


I believe I have a post that will absolutely bless each one of you whether you’re reading it the day it goes live or ten years from now. I’m praying that God’s Word would stand out far above and beyond any clever things I think I have to say. I also pray for everyone reading, that the Spirit of God would be cultivating your heart even now to receive what He wants to speak to you!


If you’re around me for any length of time, you’ll realize I’m big on community. I mean like really doing lifewith people. Now I love (looooooooove) my alone time, and I’m sure many of you do, too. But living planted in community doesn’t mean that you have to be the most outgoing extrovert who’s constantly on the go and surrounded by people 99% of the time (that 1% only being the time it takes to shower). If that were the case, you’d literally never hear me talk about community. 


Around my church, we hear the phrase “doing life together” a whole lot. I used to wonder why we used such a corny phrase all the time, but as I got more involved, I realized how disconnected people live. Chicago is a big city, and people are constantly on the go. I understood why it was so important to emphasize the fact that we do life together. People really out here doing life alone! Well, that’s no fun, it’s not healthy, and it’s not the way God designed us. 


Having good relationships with our own family and friends outside of church may cause some to dismiss the need to form deep relationships with people in church community. Others may be fiercely independent, and just don’t see the importance of community. While it’s easy to keep “church friends” in their own box while you do the rest of your life, you’re not doing the best thing for yourself or for the Kingdom of God. 


Why Community?


We are one body

When we decided to become a Christian, we became part of thebody of Christ. (maybe nobody warned you, but now ya know! Hey fam!) The body is connected and functions and moves as one because it’s all attached. Once something is detached or even slightly detached from the body, it’s not right; in fact, it’s dead. And the rest of the body suffers when one part is suffering. We’re not at our best without each other. 


“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:4-5


God has not created us to do anything alone. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but ... members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). The Christian walk isn’t you and God or me and God, it’s usand God. Even the God we worship shows himself as community (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and he brings us together to be one. 


Safety in community

1 Peter 5:8 cautions us: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 


Who exactly can the enemy devour? Not anyone and everyone; he’s looking for those who he candevour. Lions are not necessarily as fast or active or even as smart as some of the animals they hunt and devour. But lions watch long enough to know when they can strike. They don’t strike at animals that are in the center or at the head of the pack. They look for a moment when an animal is slightly separated from the pack. That’s an easy target. Our safety is jeopardized when we stray from the pack (our church community), making us a target for the enemy. 


Don’t stray. Don’t hang around the edges. Stay at the center of what God is doing in your community of believers. Be fully present and fully engaged, willing to be brave enough to open yourself to others, both in joining with others and by being one who actively opens up and draws people in.




Tips on building community



Build real community 

Those closest to us need to have God as their closest, too. We need people who are going to be chasing God as much as we are or more, and we need people who are going to be able to guard us and hold us up in our times of weakness. You’ll never find the same richness, connectedness, grace, love and depth that you will find in healthy, Christian relationships. 


“In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” Ephesians 2:22


A unified church community will see the hand of God in incredible ways that cannot be replicated without the Spirit of Him, who established the Church.


People aren’t the real problem

Nothing worthwhile comes without challenges. Folks are challenging! Let’s not pretend we’re not (I have my days). But remember: PEOPLE ARE NOT OUR ENEMY. Being hurt hurts, but honestly it’s not those people who are after us. It’s a distraction of the actual enemy, Satan our adversary. Let’s be aware of the real enemy who is after our faith and peace and joy. Let’s stop being distracted by fighting the wrong fights. Focus on seeking God and cultivating relationships others, our actual focus is to build His kingdom and make His Name known. 



“That’s just how I am” is not a legitimate excuse to keep your walls high up. 

Change. There’s a whole million-dollar industry out there on change, yet Christians should be the number one example of change and transformation. That’s part of what the Holy Spirit gives us! The fruit of the spirit should be increasingly obvious in our lives. “Just how I am” doesn’t stand against the transforming power of His Word and Spirit. 


Just as God brought the Hebrews out of Egyptian bondage to be a community of people to show the world who the true God is, so He also has called us out to be His special people. Let’s recognize that in each other. Those other believers you are surrounded by are the people God pulled out of bondage and brought into a community of His people. Look at their stories and your own and marvel at how God put these all together for His purpose to be done. We’re not just like all other people on earth. We’re His and we’re a family. 

TFF community! My name is Eboné (yup, sounds like Ebony + Beyoncé. I know. I’m great.) and I blog over at keepitsimpleeb.com where I like to share ways I’m learning to keep life simple as a Jesus-lovin’, coffee-powered, city-dwelling millennial. Check it out if you have time!






Winter has officially arrived in Chicago in the form of snow, freezing temps, and cravings for everything warm.

I decided I would make beef stew today. Beef stew isn’t too difficult to make but it does involve quite a bit of preparation. Lots of chopping: celery, onion, potatoes, carrots, beef. It can get a little bit messy if you aren’t careful As I was preparing the stew today, I couldn’t help but hear my mom’s voice saying “clean as you go, Lindsay”.

I am sure you have heard similar advice before too. Clean up is way easier if you toss stuff as you are cooking rather than waiting until the end. I actually used to hate that she would tell me to do that because I hate cleaning— during or after. For some reason, taking two seconds to throw away the ends of the carrot or tossing the onion I didn’t use felt like such a heavy lift. But today, I heeded the wise words of my mom. And I was amazed at how by the time I put the lid on the crock pot and set it on high to start cooking, my kitchen was no less messy than it was when I started. Everything was still in order.

Then I had the thought…

What if I lived my life like that? What if I took the “clean as you go” principle and applied it to my every day? 

Checking my sin and repenting. 

Checking my motives and adjusting.

Checking my relationships and growing. 

Checking my heart and healing.


Checking in before it gets to that point. You know the point- when the dishes are taking over the kitchen and you would rather just MOVE and get a new place than clean them? Checking in before the sin becomes a lifestyle, the motives become the norm, or the relationship...fails. 

Cleaning up my messes as I go, before they become monumental. Seems like my mom was on to something…

ALL throughout the Old Testament we see the people of Israel WARNED that their behavior was surely going to lead to their own ruin. All throughout the Bible there are countless stories of people having an opportunity to make a change or repent or go a different route. They had chance after chance to reel it back in before things went too far. Thankfully, God’s grace and mercy are deeper than we could ever imagine. But I can’t help but wonder…what would it look like if we paused, cleaned up, and went another way before things blew up in our face?

Every day His mercy is new. Every day we get a fresh shot at becoming more like Christ. Let’s not take it for granted. Let’s not coast. Let’s be diligent and intentional people who “clean as they go”.

If you want to try out this amazing beef stew recipe you can right here… just make sure you clean as you go.

If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. - Job 36:11




4 Resources to Start Your Year


4 Resources to Start Your Year

I have the privilege of being connected to so many amazing writers, teachers, and leaders in the faith community. I gathered up some (not all) of the amazing work they are doing. If you are looking for a study, a devotional, or a resource— KEEP READING.

Space- Amanda Carpenter

Amanda and I go to church together and she’s one of those people that just keeps getting better the longer you know her. She writes from such a genuine place and really loves the Lord. If you need more space in your life…grab this devotional. ASAP.

Guarantee - by Lacey Rabalais

Lacey and I are instagram friends and have connected deeply over conversations on race, parenting, singleness and more. I love her heart to learn and grow in Christ. Lacey walks you through the prophetic words in the Bible and what they all point to. Grab her devotional here!

The Push Guide: Elizabeth Strickland

Elizabeth Strickland is one of the most powerful women I have ever encountered. She has a lock on teaching women about finding and walking in their purpose. If you are looking for direction, clarity, and most likely a kick in the butt- she’s your girl. Check out her devotional here:

Ashley Morgan Jackson - Soul Reflection Workbook

Ashley is such a gift to anyone who follows her. She is so authentic and shares such beautiful revelation from the Bible. She is a true heart to heart girl and if you are in need of some deep work internally, she is your girl. Check out her Soul Reflection Workbook HERE.

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Stuck In the Middle

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Stuck In the Middle

By Rachel Clair

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you

Yes, I’m stuck in the middle with you

-Stealers Wheel


Have you heard that song before? It’s kinda weird, but it popped into my head today because that’s where I find myself - stuck in the middle, likely with you.


I’ve recently found myself looking for a blog or a devotional from someone who’s also stuck in the middle. Someone who says, “Hey, I got you. I’m stuck in the middle with you. I really have no idea when we’re going to get to leave, but I’m here. I’m with you, and I fully believe God is here too.”


While I’ve found a lot of stuff to read, most of it has come from people who are past their messy middle. They’ve learned some lessons and ready to share them. It’s all been good, but it’s just not offering up that, “I’m in it with you” encouragement I need right now.


A writer friend once said that when she’s searching for something to read and she can’t find what she’s looking for, it’s probably because she’s searching for herself. She’s looking for her voice and her perspective. She’s got a story to tell that’s bottled up inside, ready to burst, so she better stop looking and just start writing.


So here I am - coming at you from right smack dab in the messy middle - with a letter, a story, written just as much for me as it is for you.


A little set up for you before I jump in - these last two years have been characterized by loss for me and my husband. His dad died in the summer of 2017. A few of our really close friends moved out of state. We suffered some deep hurt and betrayal from another friend. My sister lost a baby, and I left a job that I had hoped would become my long term calling. As 2018 draws to a close, I sense little glimmers that we might finally be rounding the corner, that hope and joy might be possible again. But for the most part, I feel like we’re still swimming around somewhere in the middle, looking for direction, mourning loss, and begging to be healed.


This summer, while directing a kids’ camp at Soul City Church in Chicago, God handed me the story of Joseph. Joseph was a man more than familiar with the middle. He had 11 brothers, and he was his father’s favorite. I’m sure that put him in the middle of quite a few family feuds.


One day, while Joseph’s brothers were out tending the family’s flock, Jacob (the father) sent Joseph out to check on his brothers.


Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are getting along,” Jacob said. “Then come back and bring me a report.” 


Sounds like a recipe for disaster, if you ask me. The favorite son gets to stay at home while the rest of the brothers work. Then, he’s sent to check on them and report back to the father on how they are doing. Can we say, “Perfect storm for pride and jealousy to collide?”


Sure enough, Joseph set out to find his brothers, and when they saw him coming, they made plans to kill him.


You can read the whole story in Genesis 37. In fact, you should because of the twists and turns happen, and by the end of it, Joseph is sold to a caravan of traders who then sell him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.


Can you imagine what this must have been like for Joseph? His day started out at home with his dad and ended as a slave in Egypt. Joseph suddenly found himself in the middle, just past the loss of a life he knew and loved, but quite far from the blessings and success God had in store for him. 


You and I have the benefit of reading Joseph’s entire story in the Bible. We can easily find out that things end well for him: he becomes a successful officer in Potiphar’s household; he saves the entire region of Egypt from famine; and he is reunited with his family.


But at this moment, when Joseph’s riding in the caravan, when he’s being sold to Potiphar in Egypt, he has no idea how his story will unfold. All he knows is that he’s not where he once was, and he desperately wants to get out of the situation he’s in. 


In his book, “The Land Between,” Jeff Manion writes that the period of waiting, the time between one thing and the next, is a land ripe with potential growth. But we get to choose what will grow. Will it be bitterness and resentment towards the Lord? Or will it be faith and trust. Will we grow an attitude of complaint? Or a posture of surrender?


“The habits of the heart that we foster in this space—our responses and reactions—will determine whether the Land Between results in spiritual life or spiritual death,” he says. “We choose.”


I’ve read Joseph’s story several times over the last few months. Unsurprisingly, it also popped up as the subject matter of a small group I was in this fall. Joseph’s middle lasted for a really long time. 


Scholars believe somewhere around 13 years passed between the time Joseph was sold into slavery and the time he was made an overseer in Potiphar’s house. An additional nine years passed before he saw his brothers again, and another two years past before they were officially reunited. That’s 25 years! Can you imagine? And as if being sold into slavery wasn’t enough, Joseph was also accused of a sexual assault he didn’t commit and thrown into prison for several years during this time. Talk about a messy middle.


Joseph didn’t know how his life was going to turn out. He didn’t know he would become wealthy and successful, and that he would be the one to save his brothers from starvation. But God did.


Genesis 39:2 tells us that, “The Lord was with Joseph so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.”


Genesis 39:21 says it again, “But the Lord was with Joseph in prison and showed him his faithful love…”


God was with Joseph, even in the messy middle. The writer of Genesis doesn’t fill in all the details of how Joseph reacted to his situation, but since he is human, I have to imagine it was struggle sometimes. I’m sure he cried out to God, doubted God, got angry with God and angry at his situation. But the fruit of his life shows us that overall, he trusted God in the middle, and God used the middle to grow Joseph in ways he couldn’t grow before.


So let me ask you this, what messy middle currently defines your situation? In what “land between” do you find yourself? Do you feel stuck? Have you just arrived? Are you kicking and screaming? Are you seated in prayer? 


In the same breath that God gave me Joseph this summer, he also gave me Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.”


That was in July, and it is now December. 


My situation hasn’t changed much. I still have a growing desire to find success as a writer and creator, but have no idea how it will happen. I’m still asking for a full time job, while learning to thank God for the financial provision he is giving, even if it’s less than what I want. My husband was diagnosed with depression earlier this year, and we still haven’t found a medication or a rhythm of communication that will let us live in peace. The conflict with our friends that hurt us so deeply is still bruising on our hearts, and we find ourselves wrestling in the middle. Everywhere we look, it's the middle.


I’ve written a lot about waiting, about existing in the place between where you were and the place where you want to go. Waiting is hard; most of us don’t like it. But I’m finding that as I pull my gaze away from the past and stop focusing so hard on the future, God’s light burns bright right here in the messy middle with me. He is present. He is here, and he longs for me to be here with him.


I want you to know I see you. I’m right here with you in the middle. I have no idea how long it’s going to last or when we’re going to get to leave, but I’m here. I’m with you, and the best part is, I know God is here with you too.

You can read more of Rachel’s incredible work over on The Sunday Afternoon Blog


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