Connecting in Community

*this content was originally written by Ryant Hoyt to help Mercyview's gospel community leaders navigate connecting people to community life. Though the original audience was GC leaders, the content is valuable for anyone looking to engage in community in meaningful ways*
When you lead a gospel community, it is only a matter of time before you hear some form of this statement; ‘I don’t feel connected.’ What do you say? How do you respond to this statement? What are your initial thoughts about the statement? Do you feel like you need to try and cater to the person’s needs? Do you know what to say at all?

What does it even mean to be connected? How does someone get and stay connected? How should we counsel those in our groups who approach us with this concern? Let me suggest that being connected and making a connection is contingent upon at least two things; opportunity and investment.


At Mercyview, we are always creating opportunities for people to be ‘connected’ in the church's community life. The primary avenue we create for people to connect with community is in the gospel community setting. A gospel community is an intergenerational small group focused on spiritual formation through growing in knowledge and application of the gospel, making disciples through a focus on the Scriptures and Prayer, in the context of a safe and authentic community.

D-Groups are an additional opportunity for connection. D-Groups at Mercyview consist of 2-3 believers of the same gender who mutually pursue holiness by studying the Bible, confessing sin and praying together. D-Groups require intentional effort and investment in one another. Theologian John Owen said, ‘be killing sin, lest it be killing you.’ In response, Mercyview has crafted D-Groups to provide an opportunity to courageously combat sin and its effects.
Gospel communities and D-Groups provide formal and informal opportunities for people in the local church to establish and maintain relationships. Formal opportunities consist of the gospel community gathering, d-group gatherings, corporate worship, and or any other church-sponsored gathering.

As a result of these formal gatherings, informal gathering opportunities may arise as members of the group pursue relationships with each other. Informal opportunities might be something like going to dinner or drinks, getting coffee, going bowling or on a campout. Informal gathering opportunities are critical for people to grow and maintain intimate relationships.


If I decided to spend my entire paycheck on electronics, clothes, shoes, books, etc., would I be ready for retirement when that time comes? The answer is no. Conversely, if I invest a portion of my income wisely, then I will likely receive the reward of a sound investment at some point in the future.

The same is true when it comes to relationships. If a person doesn’t invest their time and energy into the community, then they will not likely receive the return of ‘feeling connected.’ Relationships take intentional effort; they take investment. Any investment carries with it risk.

At the beginning of nearly every relationship, there is a period of awkwardness or a feeling-out place. This is why we have to understand - and as leaders help others understand - that relationships require investment. Getting to this kind of understanding is critical for connections in relationships to flourish. It’s not enough to simply understand either; we have to put into practice the pursuit of one another for the sake of building and maintaining relationships. Connecting in a community requires personal investment in the group and its people.

This is a Two Way Street

The truth is that being connected is a two-way street. As I mentioned earlier, at Mercyview we will always provide opportunities for people to ‘connect.’ The worship gathering, gospel community, D-Groups, equipping opportunities, ministry to men and women, holiday celebrations and church-wide missional endeavors - these all serve as formal opportunities where people can connect. As relationships are born and fostered, informal opportunities will arise, provided people are willing to invest in each other.

All the opportunities in the world are meaningless if the person seeing connection is unwilling to invest in them and in one another. As leaders, we must provide vision and empower our people to invest in relationships.

Connecting in a community requires opportunity and investment.

One Possible Pitfall: Sneaky Consumerism

Sometimes the reason that people feel disconnected is that what they are looking for is built on consumerism and not a deep desire for a gospel-centered community. Consumerism exists in the church; it's the driving force behind every seeker-sensitive church model, unsanctioned fight night at men’s events, and ridiculous giveaway for “Back to Church Sunday.” Consumerism also exists in a church like Mercyview - even in our gospel communities. It just may be a little more sneaky than consumerism in the seeker-sensitive, corporate worship model.

A consumer arrives at the gospel community with their attitude or posture toward the group strikingly similar to the corporate consumer’s attitude toward the corporate worship gathering. The consumer in the gospel community comes to take from the group or believes the group exists to meet their needs or preferences. They rarely, if ever, actually contribute to the group. The gospel community consumer may even push back against being called to contribute or participate.

In order to overcome consumer tendencies, leaders must call their people to invest in each other and actively contribute to the group. Investment overcomes consumerism. Mercyview is not a place where one can simply take from the community. We must consistently call our people to give, to invest.

What it means for you

You may find yourself feeling like you aren’t connected. If you are a leader, you will eventually run into people who will tell you that they ‘don’t feel connected.’ There will be a temptation toward consumerism - it's just that ingrained in our culture. Leader, you may feel the need to immediately cater to the person’s desire.

It’s possible that there is a legitimate deficiency in your group that you should address. However, be aware of the presence of consumerism. If you want someone else to connect you, or as the leader, if the person wanting connection wants you to somehow connect them, instead of themselves pursuing and investing in relationships, then that is a cue that something is off.

Whether you are seeking out connection yourself or trying to figure out how to help someone in your group connect, you’ll want to consider asking the following series of questions:

  1. What are you seeking?
  2. What do you want?
  3. In whom are you investing?
  4. What is stopping you from investing?
  5. How do you plan to connect?
  6. What do you mean by ‘connected?’
  7. What does it take to be ‘connected?’
  8. What does being ‘connected’ look like to you?
  9. (For a Group Leader) How can I assist you as you work to connect?
  10. (For a Group Leader) How can I pray for you?

Strategies for Connection
  • Shared Leadership: Provide opportunities for group members to invest by taking leadership of a particular facet of the gospel community.
  • Active Participation: Call the members of the gospel community members to participate in different facets of the group.
  • D-Groups: D-Groups that form from inside of gospel community provide additional opportunities to connect through additional relationships.
  • Outside the Group: Encourage the people in your group to pursue each other outside of the formal gospel community gatherings.
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