You Need a Community

(4 minute read)

You know what families need? They need a faith community. Something that we call a Cloud of Witnesses (check out Hebrews 12:1). A team of supporters and encouragers and sojourners who accompany them on the journey of faith. People who will pray with them, weep with them, rejoice with them, and everything in between (St Paul is on a roll here, see Romans 12:15). 

Catholic Families need other Catholic families who will “do life” with them, and who can model for each other’s kids (and for us grownups too!) what it looks like to follow Jesus no matter the circumstances, and the joy that can only come from a relationship with Him. 

A faithful friend (and I venture to say, a faith-filled friend) is a sturdy shelter. And in a world that can feel pretty stormy, you need them. I need them. Our kids need them. And by God’s grace, we can have them. 

Maybe you already have this Cloud of Witnesses in your life. Or maybe you don’t. Whether you already have this Christ-centered community or you crave it, the Lord is calling you to do something about it. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us[b] and persevere in running the race that lies before us (Romans 12:1)

Already have a Cloud of Witnesses?

I think the Lord is speaking to you here. No. I know He is.

He has given you a tremendous gift in these faith-filled friendships!  And as is always the case with gifts from the Lord, it isn’t meant for you to keep to yourself; it is meant to be shared. YOU have the power to offer this gift of Christ-centered friendship to someone else. 

So think and pray about this: how might the Lord be calling you to invite others into the beautiful reality of having Christ-centered friends that you already enjoy?

It doesn’t have to be complicated. And it doesn’t mean that everyone has to do everything together all the time. But welcoming the stranger is for sure something we are called to do, even if the “stranger” is simply a new family or two who don’t yet have the community that the Lord has gifted you.

How might the Lord be calling you to invite others into the beautiful reality of having Christ-centered friends that you already enjoy?

Don’t yet have a Cloud of Witnesses? 

I’ve been there. It can feel pretty lonely, isolating, frustrating. And I don’t think the Lord calls us to experience this as a sort of permanent reality. Even Jesus enjoyed strong, faith-filled friendships. They matter. 

In fact, the Lord commands us to ask HIM for what we need, and live in confident hope that He will provide what we need most. This includes Christ-centered community. 

So pray for these friendships. And even as you pray, actively seek out groups that might be offered through your local parish or diocese. Or… (gulp) start one of your own. 

Family Small Groups: Less complicated than you might think

Anyone can start or grow a Family Small Group. It just takes some trust, some patience, and some good old fashioned hospitality.

Family Small Groups are just small groups of families (fancy that) who gather from time to time for some prayer and fellowship. 

The Practicals

We recommend that you meet once a month. You can meet more often, if you’re feeling wild and adventurous and everyone is up for it, but admittedly, that might be too much to ask.

1. Pray and ask the Lord who to invite to be part of your family small group. If you’re already part of a “Cloud of Witnesses”, ask Him to help you know who else might benefit from being invited. 

Remember, being insular and comfortable isn’t part of any plan or command that Jesus EVER laid out. You are called to be inviting, to offer the gift of your friendship to others. 

If you’re just starting a family small group from scratch, this might feel a little strange. Think about enlisting someone from your parish staff to help you identify other families who might be interested, even if you don’t know them well yet. Think about other families that you see at Mass and other parish events. And ask the Holy Spirit for the boldness and courage to introduce yourself.

2. Invite those people. Some might say yes, others might say no. That’s ok. Just be sure that it’s not *just* your current best friends. The idea here is to include others. Family small groups seem to work well when they have 4-6 families, but go for what YOU feel called to do. 

You can start with just 2 families and then grow. A larger group could likely be split into 2, and still gather regularly as a larger group for prayer and fun.

Also remember that you’re inviting them to something awesome- have confidence in that! Food, faith, friends… this is good stuff, and something all of us need! So don’t be afraid. 

3. Choose when and where you’ll meet and then schedule it. Meet at a park or a home or somewhere else. This doesn’t matter as much as making it happen. Don’t let tiny homes or worry about mess hold you back. 

4. Meet. Do it. Find your groove. Don’t worry if it isn’t “perfect.” You aren’t hosting a fancy party, there’s no set agenda and formal process here. Find what works for your group. 

Here’s what a typical monthly gathering of my own family small group looks like:

  • Open with a simple prayer to welcome the Lord into whatever is about to happen.
  • ALWAYS have food. Have everyone bring their own food, or do potluck, or order food. Eat snacks, or a meal, or dessert. Whatever you want!  BUT… always have food. Pray grace, of course, but we recommend keeping your deeper prayer for later.
  • Talk to people. Share details of your life with them, and listen as they share details of their own. Let your kids see you building friendships with other Catholics, even if you aren’t always talking about Catholic things explicitly.
  • BE together. Play some games, or go for a hike, or have a bonfire, or go through an episode of a family-friendly video series, or make bagged lunches for the hungry, or bake cookies, or listen to an episode of our Enkindle Podcast, or whatever. 
  • Close in prayer together, bearing your hearts to the Lord who loves us. You can use any different kind of prayer, as long as it allows for people to share their intentions and walk with each other to Jesus. We recommend closing in prayer, when everyone is feeling warmed up and more comfortable.

Don’t be sad if this starts out feeling a little bit more shallow than you’d like it to be. Pray and trust in the Lord, that He will gradually draw each of you, and all of you, closer to Himself. He is the One who does the hard work of softening and opening hearts, here. We just provide a context in which He can do that.

This might take some trial and error, and that’s ok. Remember: families are messy sometimes, and so is our planning. It’s all ok, and the effort is worth making. 

If you’d like to join a Cloud of Witnesses join the One Best Thing Premium Hub and interact with people just like you who want to know and share the one best thing: to encounter and know the Lord.

Written by Kristen Fisher

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Find more reflections, resources, and practical tools for growing your family of faith on the One Best Thing Hub!

Posted in