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6 Practical Tips for Not Being Alone and Disconnected

Written by Bob Martin on

God gave us people. And, thankfully, the local church is a group of people you didn’t have to invent and you don’t have to maintain. It’s here for you to participate in—and it’s here to walk alongside you as you experience some of the most poignant moments in your spiritual life.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t know where to start with connecting in our local church. We assume that if we show up on Sundays that will be enough. It won’t.

We’ll never gain the rewards of deep relationships or purposeful involvement if we don’t take some extra steps to connect.

Here are 6 practical tips for connecting in your church.

Tip 1: Find Out Your Church’s Discipleship Pathway

Every gospel-centered church has the same mission: to make disciples who follow Jesus. But each church is a little different in their “pathway” for helping their members plug in and grow in their discipleship.

At College Park Church, our discipleship pathway involves three steps: belong, grow, and multiply.

  • We belong to one another by becoming a member of the church and living out meaningful membership with one another under our leaders.
  • We grow together through groups and classes. These more formal environments (groups, classes, Bible studies) give us a consistent structure to experience content, community, and care.
  • We multiply when we give, serve, and go. Giving supports God’s local and global work. Serving puts our own skin in the game. And going across the street, city, or world helps us live out Jesus’s Great Commission to those who need his gospel.

But just knowing the path isn’t enough.

Tip 2: Become a Member

Why does marriage include a covenant-making ceremony? It’s because that relationship works best when you make the commitment first and then live it out. When this happens, the husband and wife know exactly what is expected— and even when things get hard, both can rely on the promise that was made on that day in front of that altar and God and witnesses.

You may not stay at the same church for your whole life, but there is still a similarity. Church works best when you first commit to follow those leaders and to grow alongside those people. Especially when those shepherds and those brothers and sisters are ready to commit to you too. This is called church membership.

Church membership is how you objectively know that you belong to your church. Your fickle emotions may feel really connected to others one day and really lonely another day. But membership says, “I’m all in here. I’m committed to these leaders. I’m committed to these members. And they’re committed to me too.”

Becoming a member is just the front door of the house. It brings you in. But then, you get to explore and live in all the rooms inside and make it your home.

Tip 3: Jump into a Group or Class

We need structure. When we just generally want relationships and generally want to grow, it won’t happen. Nobody grows generally. We only grow in specifics: specific ways at specific times with specific people. That’s where groups and classes come in.

A group is an environment where you experience community. Relationships, closeness, intimacy. A small group or a large group provides a consistent place for you to share your life in relationships with other Christians, while also getting exposure to God’s Word and applying it to your life with others.

A class is a more formal environment where you learn content. Theology, practices, application. Maybe this class is ongoing or short term. There are certain things you can experience in a classroom that are different from what you experience in a living room. In a class you can get a deep drink of God’s Word.

There are other environments too, like Bible studies. A study might lean more into community or content depending on the style of the group or leader. But they certainly provide another prime place to grow together with others—whether men, women, or both.

Tip 4: Consider Being with People Unlike You

I’ve had a lot of conversations with Christians from various churches who have felt discontent with their church and said, “They didn’t have a group for me.”

For some of us, I understand that you may feel like you don’t fit in easily with many in your church because of your age, your ethnicity, your marital status, or something else in your story. But I’m going to say something bold here. I don’t think churches need to have a special group for every demographic of person. In fact, I think when they don’t, that might even be better.

It is wonderful to be with others who are similar to you. There can often be an immediate understanding or “click” that you have with others who are in a similar life stage. After all, there are certainly some things that a woman won’t share in a group where men are present. And there are struggles a man won’t share in detail if there are women in the room.

We can often go deeper quickly with those like us. So, for some of us, finding an age- or gender-based group will be an excellent fit.

However, most of us need to consider that just because a church doesn’t have a group built for our exact profile doesn’t mean that the church “doesn’t have a group for me.” And we should strongly consider being in a consistent environment with a diverse group of God’s people.

When a twenty-something single person and a forty-something married person are in deep relationship, it says something powerful about the gospel. When brothers and sisters with different skin colors or life experiences commit to community together, it’s a testimony. This often happens in co-ed small groups or Sunday classes. And, even though it takes hard work up front to connect deeply, this loving diversity displays to the world what Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Tip 5: Serve on a Team

Shh, don’t tell anyone. There is a little secret about serving that most people don’t know. Here it is: serving creates relationships.

Now you know one of the best-kept secrets in the church.

When we serve shoulder-to-shoulder with others in the church, we grow closer to those people. We get to know their story. We get to see their personality at work. And we get to bond through the shared experiences of helping kindergartners color or opening church doors together.

Tip 6: Get to Know Your Leaders

Finally, it’s hard to feel connected in your church if you’ve never met your leaders.

In a larger church, you may not have the lead pastor over for lunch every month like you could at a very small church. But you have many more pastors and elders that you can get to know. You don’t have only one pastor.

Whether you build a relationship with a pastor by serving on a ministry team that they oversee or you connect with your favorite lay elder by sitting next to him and talking before a Sunday evening gathering, there are plenty of ways to interact with the leaders of your church. Plus, at College Park Church, every member belongs within a geographic parish where they can reach out directly to specific elders and deacons who are already praying for them.

Take One Step to Connect

Are you ready to get connected at College Park Church? Register for DISCOVER—where you will get to discover more about the church, meet the pastors, and find out your next steps for becoming part of the church family. 

If you’re already a member at College Park or you attend another church, reach out to one of your pastors and ask them for help. They would love to help you connect with one of God’s greatest gifts: his people.

Bob Martin

Bob first joined staff at College Park as a Pastoral Resident in 2011 and has served in several important roles since that time. He now serves as the Pastor of Membership & Connection. Bob is passionate about seeing men and women enter into community with others to find hope together. He enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends.

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