Real community goes both ways!

In March we’re dedicating the month to talking about community, and this week we talked about 10 ways to break into a new church. One of the things we wanted to emphasize, though, is that community is not just about what you can get; it’s also about what you can give. And that means that, when we’re in community, other people do have the right to speak into our lives.

Plus I answered some reader questions! So listen in first, and then let’s talk. 🙂

Main Segment: How do you nurture community in your church?

We started off with a comment that was left on Monday’s post about finding new friends, where Jessica said:

We’re in a Sunday school class at our church, that has a core group that’s been together since fall 2005 when we were all engaged or newly married. Many couples have come and gone in that time, but there’s about 7 or 8 couples (including us) that have been in that class for all or most of that time, and while we really aren’t like a tight group that spends all our time together, we have shared a lot of history together. And I can see how someone could come into our class and think, these people have known each other their whole lives, is there really room for me here? So there’s a delicate push and pull between, a thriving church will have people who have close friendships and long-standing relationships and lots of shared history (and this is GOOD and you should want this!), and a thriving church will also have room for others to join the fold. I think it can be a challenge to have either without the expense of the other.

We talked again about what healthy community looked like, and how to break in (and what to do if people just weren’t healthy or reaching out, even with your best efforts).

Then Rebecca and I talked about the tendency today for people to talk about unsolicited advice as something always bad.

Sometimes it is, yes. Sometimes it’s a tool for manipulation, bullying, or condescension. But sometimes we’re putting people in a difficult situation by putting our emotional burdens on their shoulders, but then resisting help to lighten the load. So we went through a bunch of scenarios about what healthy advice and healthy community looks like, both online and in real life.

And I’d love to know what you all think about the phenomenon we were discussing! I think it’s really common. So what’s your take? Were we totally off, or is social media creating a false sense of community and making boundaries difficult to see? 

Reader Question: What do I do if my daughter is having an affair with a married man?

A reader read my post on a daughter having an affair, and she had an additional question.

Our 23-year-old is still home with siblings in the house using our car and a part time job. She got fired from her regular job because of the affair (it affects the staff there). Help. I am so confused about what to do.

My quick answer is this: If she’s going to want to make adult decisions, then she has to have adult responsibilities. If she wants to still have the privileges of being a child, then she lives by your rules in your house. So I’d tell her to get her own place and her own car! But also make sure that she knows she can come to you if she falls apart.

Reader Question #2: What are guidelines for being good “in-laws” when your kids are dating?

A reader asks:

My husband and I are junior pastors at church. Our son and daughter are starting to date. We are ok with that because we studied and taught them about Bible perspective on dating, marriage, sexuality, etc. and read together good Christian books about it (like True love dates!!). We have a great communication.

But I don’t know about a christian book that talks about the in-law relationship. Even more: how to be a diligent pastor and a good, godly in-law for your children and their dates/spouses. I mean, my kids are dating persons from our church and I don’t know were I draw the line between being just a mom (in-law) and being the Bible teacher, counselor, pastor, etc. I want to be a good minister but don’t want to be a snoopy-mom-in law and ruin my children’s relationships.

My quick thoughts: Don’t assume you’re the in-law until they’re engaged. Don’t put pressure. Plus you’ll get really emotionally invested in the relationship, and it will be devastating if they break up!

But then, also, you should likely make sure there are other volunteers or mentors who can talk to them, so that they can go to someone else with questions who aren’t necessarily their girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s parents.

In general, though, relationships are relationships. Respect people. Treat them kindly. Look out for them, whatever their relationship to you.

Rebecca Says:

When it comes to kids dating, the best thing you can do is welcome their significant other into your family with open arms while also keeping some time for just you and your child set aside.

If you want to be an in-law that your kid and his/her significant other turns to, you’ve got to have the trust of both parties! My parents did an excellent job of not just inviting Connor to things but really getting to know him. We went Irish dancing together. Every time they came to Ottawa Connor joined us on outings. My Nana is the one he called to help him with ring shopping when he wanted to propose, and my dad and him even went on a canoeing trip together when we were engaged!

You don’t have to be the people that they come to with their problems. Pray that God will put responsible, wise, and discerning people in their lives who can fill that role. But prove to your child and their significant other that you are people they can talk to, have fun with, and call family.

Rebecca Lindenbach

So that’s it for today! Listen in, and then leave your thoughts. Were Rebecca and I right about Facebook? What should the mom of the daughter having the affair do? Let’s talk in the comments!

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