SGL Resource - Create Authentic Community

 4 Ways Leaders Can Create Authentic Community 

Authentic Community (John 13:34-35)

When we invest our whole selves in vulnerable and imperfect community and commit to living out our stories together, we build honest relationships with one another and restore God’s intention for his people.

Of course authentic community doesn’t happen at the snap of a finger, overnight, or through one deep cry session by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa and three of your best friends. AC is a process, and tonight we want to discuss 4 vital ways we can help to create an environment where AC can happen. We can never truly CREATE authentic community, but we can CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT where AC can be a very present reality. Tonight let’s focus on the first six words in our explanation of AC to gain a better understanding of how we create environments where AC can be a reality.

4 Vital Ways to create an environment where AC can be a present reality

Be Predictable

People need routine to thrive. You probably have a routine each morning. You very likely have one each evening. Brush teeth, make coffee, take shower, “keys, wallet/purse, phone” check before heading out the door. Maybe you start with prayer, end with prayer, call your mother, etc. but we all have routines. And when those routines get broken we get out of sorts. We lose sleep, we miss appointments, we forget our phone and miss important calls, etc.

QUESTION: What regular routines do you have daily/weekly? Anything funny, weird, or strange you do each night or day that you’d like to enlighten us with?! What happens when that routine gets interrupted?

The people we lead need a predictable night of the week to meet on a regular, or routine basis. Let me clarify, the meeting itself need not be predictable. But MEETING needs to be predictable. “We meet every week at 7” means that we don’t cancel last minute because “something came up” (i.e. I don’t feel like hosting tonight).

Why do people need predictability?

Because in a world that is so unpredictable (I lost my job today. She broke up with me. My mother just found out she has cancer), people need to know there is a place to come week in and week out where they can allow others to carry the burden of life with them.

Because in a world that is so unpredictable (I lost my job today. She broke up with me. My mother just found out she has cancer), people need to know there is a place to come week in and week out where they can allow others to carry the burden of life with them.

Because predictability provides (eventually) a safe place to be heard, known and love. To all the people who grew up with an absent father that made empty promises about being home for the weekend, or going to your concert, or getting back in time to tuck you in, unpredictability has been a way of life; disappointment is something they’ve come to expect. The family of God is different; the family of God operates under the Spirit of Christ who values others as more important.

Talking about superior athletes, Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer once quipped:

“I’ve never met an elite athlete that didn’t have a routine. My goal going in to the weekend is to not break or interrupt that routine.”

QUESTION: While we can sometimes view predictability as negative, mundane, or boring, how can routines help us thrive as individuals and lead to community?

Be Present

There’s no reason to be predictable if, when you meet, you’re actually not there. There are lots of ways in which a leader can be present physically but lack presence in other critical areas:

-Emotional, Spiritual, and Mental Presence

QUESTION: What are some ways your boss, your co-workers, your friends, your family members, have been PRESENT physically but not present emotionally or mentally?

From silly things like scrolling your phone for texts and twitter to larger things like not being prepared (reading and praying about the study and the group members ahead of time) can have long-term effects on the strength of the community. We all know the feeling of pouring our heart out to someone (even if it’s our true feelings about something somewhat trivial!) and we see the other person on their phone or computer, only halfway attentive. It sends a message that what we’re saying isn’t important. In humility, though, we value others and all of their (potentially) trivial conversation as being more valuable than what we are doing.

To lead well we are to be present which means that listening to others talk about their high score on Candy Crush or their ignorant boss or their vacation plans to Barbados (again! And we have to work...again) is the kind of information we live for.

But showing up mentally doesn’t stop with discussing the latest and greatest apps for your new phone. When you show up mentally, emotionally, and spiritually you also commit to engaging others in meaningful discussions and to listening, really listening, to what others have to say.
It is primarily in the listening that we create an environment that leads to vulnerability and to sharing life together.


QUESTION: Discuss a time when someone has really paid attention to you. Maybe it was a teacher, a Coach, a parent or friend. How did their listening make you feel valued even if they couldn’t solve your problem?

In order to really show up mentally, you need to be prepared, awake and engaged.

Be Spontaneous

While predictability provides a much-needed routine, being spontaneous (even planned spontaneity) sends a strong message to your group: I LIKE YOU AND ENJOY YOUR COMPANY. It takes the conversation past a discussion about theology and into discussions about how theology intersects with real life. There are all sorts of ways to be spontaneous:

-Meet up at a bar for drinks after work
-Brunch after church
-Sending a text to someone who needs prayer throughout the week -Game Night instead of Group Study Night
-Weekend Trip
-Movies, Ping Pong, Broadway Show, Picnic in the Park
-Super Bowl Party, Birthday Party (birthday texts!)
-Meeting in the morning to pray about someone in the group that needs it

Being spontaneous has a monumental effect on the group and helps to make the predictable meet ups more fun, engaging and meaningful, as well.

QUESTION: Name something (large or small) your group has done (with or without you) that has brought deeper meaning to your life or the life of the group.

If your group currently feels stale try doing something spontaneous that sends a message to your group that you’re about much more than just meeting and discussing a topic; send a text, set up a brunch, invite people to a movie you want to see, throw a Super Bowl Party (or ask someone else to do it!) and see how, over time, this helps to generate a deeper sense of community within your group.

Be Focused on Restoration

We saved the most important piece for last, and we did so because we want to highlight WHY this sets the tone for each of our groups. The focus on restoring our world to God’s intention must be the premise of all we do. If we aim only for community we’ll likely wind up with something far less, something like pseudo-community rather than Christ-like community.

When our aim is only to study God’s word we risk becoming legalists.
When our aim is only to socialize we risk walking away just as empty as we came.
When our aim is only to serve others we risk being exhausted and burned out.
When our aim is only for vulnerability and imperfection we risk drowning in a pool of brokenness rather than leading people to the life found in Jesus.


But when our aim is restoration we get all of the above (studying, socializing, serving, vulnerability and imperfections) thrown in; in fact, each can actually be what God chooses to use to bring about the restoration He hopes for in all of us.

QUESTION: Talk about seeing life-change in your group, perhaps in an individual (even you!) or the group at large. What small or large steps have you seen people take in developing their faith?