I love fall.  Yes, I realize that I live in San Diego and we don’t really have seasons.  But I still love this time of year when everything is trying to get a bit cozier.

Enjoying fall is challenging in Southern California, where the temperatures are still running high.  No matter how much I want to wear scarves, every morning I’m still destined to put on my summer attire.  So for now, I just have to be satisfied by duplicating the appearance of fall in and around my house by scattering lots of pumpkins, fake leaves, and fall scented candles everywhere.

Most of us have a strong desire to duplicate the things that we admire and find beautiful.  And while satisfaction can be found by reproducing something that is similar to the thing that we love, we can never make our copy fully display all the wonder of the original.

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The same principal applies to developing our communities.

We cannot merely duplicate what others are successfully doing – and then force it to fit our personality, lifestyle, resources, and the vibe our homes or groups.

Developing a thriving community marked by meaningful relationships takes time, practice, and our unique personalization.  Unfortunately simply copying and pasting what someone else is doing in their home does not automatically create something beautiful and lasting in ours

Duplicating what others are doing can be a helpful way to get started forming and nourishing community, but we cannot exhaust all of our time and energy into trying to make our group identical to another.  That always leads to frustration, burn out, and quitting too soon.

Instead, we share our experiences with one another, gleaning inspiration and learning new ideas.  We try various suggestions from people and communities that we respect or admire.  And then we do the hard work of modifying or letting go of examples that just don’t fit with the rhythms and resources of our homes, or the people we are developing community with.

Ryan and I decided very early in our marriage that we wanted our home to be a place of gathering.  I love to share about the beloved community in our home that has grown from that desire.  Because I hope to inspire and help others to value, create, and nurture community in their own lives as well.

But it is also important to tell you that Ryan and I tried replicating several groups – that were modeled to us by people whom we greatly admire – that did not blossom under our stewardship or in our home.

All of these groups, each representing different demographics, had a genuine need for community.  They all began with a ton of energy, and all of them eventually failed.  It took several attempts, and some trial and error, before Ryan and I figured out what we are best at, what group we are most passionate to serve, and what population fits best in our home.

I am eternally grateful that we never gave up on our desire to nourish community and build meaningful relationships in our home just because someone else’s version of community wasn’t quite the right fit.

Because eventually we did find our people.

Once the connections with twenty-somethings started developing in our home something lasting and beautiful began to make roots.  What we get to enjoy now, every week, was worth all the effort of trying and failing.  We just had to know what didn’t work for us before we realized what did.

And even though all our previous  groups were short lived, the investment of trying them has never been wasted.  Significant relationships and practical knowledge grew from each of those valuable experiences.

It is so important to know that it is by this process – not a momentary decision – that I discovered my community niche.  The place where a people’s need for community intersects with my resources, abilities, and interests.

I believe strongly that we all have a community niche that we can serve beautifully, AND that they are not all the same.  That’s the brilliance of God’s unique design for each of us.  So that as a collective group we are able to offer an invitation to every type of person and demographic.

Have you discovered your community niche yet?  How can we help you in that journey?

Or what can you share to inspire or encourage others who are still in this process?



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