youth ministry, youth worker, community

Building Community Doesn’t Happen Overnight

By Doug Franklin November 11, 2010

My wife and I had dinner last night with two people who are becoming good friends in our lives. This young couple are dating and in college together, as well as also being youth group volunteers alongside my wife and I. This was the first time we had them over for dinner and we enjoyed it so much. After a great dinner (thanks to my wife) and dessert (again, my amazing wife) we sat down in the living room to hang out and talk. We quickly found ourselves in a rousing discussion about Lord of the Rings and super heroes (that was my fault), but eventually got to the topic of how school was going for them, and I was surprised by their answer.

While they both were enjoying their second year, they also had a lot of issues with it. Their school is in the middle of a big campaign for community. They are requiring every student to read Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together” (which is a fantastic book) and to build community with others on campus. My two friends love people and relationships and community, yet they were really uncomfortable with the college pushing it on them. It was as though the university recognized the value of community–love, grace, acceptance, sharing in each other’s joys and pains–but they forgot how important the process of getting to that place really was. The college was trying to push community on their students, demanding they instantly jump into these super deep relationships with everyone around them, but community doesn’t happen overnight. Part of the joy of community is building it. And to build something, it takes time. You can’t just meet someone and instantly decide you are best friends.

When we build community, whether it’s in a college or a youth group, we must recognize we can’t rush the process of building relationships. They take time and effort, and we must be prepared to give both, or community, no matter how badly we want it, will never happen.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More