Our eldest son will start kindergarten in just a few weeks. And, although I am excited about the opportunity for him to learn and grow, I’m nervous for him too. He’ll be at a new place, with unfamiliar people, and no parents around to help him navigate the day. During that first week especially, at the ripe old age of 5, my son will have to learn to cope with being alone.

But, what I pray will happen, is that he’ll start to meet friends. That the kid assigned to the seat next to him will also think Spiderman is cooler than Batman, or that his teacher will make a special effort to let him know that she cares. He will, I believe, gradually start to find his place in the community that is his kindergarten class.

Then there’s us — the “grown ups” as my son would classify it. What do we do to find community? We use the word, generally, to describe where we live, for example, “In my community there is a pool…” Yet, most don’t really know their neighbors or have a connection with others they live close to aside from sharing a common zip code. Many reside in a community but don’t have one.

Dressing alike at Chili’s is not a requirement for community…in case you were concerned.

But, do we really need one…a community that is? I know my kindergartener needs friends to feel comfortable and enjoy school. But, what about you and I? Do we need a group of people, outside of our families, to call our own so that we can enjoy life? Can’t we do just fine with our 211 Facebook friends, 43 Twitter followers, and a couple text messages from a pal in another state every week or two?

I would argue, no. And, the data backs me up. No matter what your age, you need people to thrive. People with friends tend to live longer and report having happier and healthier lives. People who classify themselves as not having friends tend to face longer and more serious bouts of depression, have more health issues, and are more prone to risky behaviors including suicide.

It’s healthy to have friends. Period.

I did a little research on “not having friends” and what I found was quite fascinating. One site suggested that if this is your problem, you should first, “enjoy being alone” and then consider getting a dog. These suggestions out-ranked other ideas such as ways to meet and connect with people.

Fortunately, God, through the Bible, gives us some better ideas on community. It’s clear through scripture that friendship, having people upon whom you can depend and “do life with,” is part of God’s design. The book of Proverbs (Prov. 12:26, 17:17, 18:24, 27:5-6, 27:17…just to name a few) is filled with tips for relating to friends, and in the epistles, believers are instructed on how to do life together, like a body (1 Corinthians 12), and to not abandon coming together for regular fellowship (Hebrews 10:24-25). Think about it — even Jesus picked 12 friends before he started his ministry on earth. He was God, and yet, he knew it was better not to try to live life alone.

Maybe you have recently moved to Forney and have no family or friends close by. (Forney is now ranked the #15 top city by population growth 2010-2011 beating out Frisco, Allen and Waxahachie so there is a good chance that you did!) Or, perhaps you’ve lived here for a few years but between work, kids, and not wanting to go outside when it’s a 130 degrees…you really haven’t met anyone. Then it’s time for you to find a community. And, we hope you’ll consider getting connected by becoming a part of Mission Church a growing church in Forney.

One of our home groups in action…I love how even the littlest member (about 9 months at the time) was also involved.

At Mission Church, we are a group of authentic people, dedicated to being real with each other and not doing life alone–in a healthy way. (Don’t worry — no one’s going to follow you to the bathroom or show up on your doorstep uninvited- that’s just weird.) Through our smaller, home-based groups (also called missional communities) we spend time hanging out, getting to know each other, and hashing through the “stuff” of life and how God and his Word play a role in it.

We also are committed to making our neighborhoods, within Forney, a better place by helping to connect the people who live there. For example, a few of the moms from our church have started Facebook pages as a way to connect moms, within their particular neighborhoods, with each other so they can share information, find friendships, and start play groups. Ladies from our church have started pages for Travis Ranch, Diamond Creek, Deerfield Heights and the University Streets by FM 741 (McKellar) along with a page for all Forney Moms on Facebook called: Moms of Forney. Mission Church also tries to participate in community activities and find ways to serve our neighbors through feeding at risk children in the Criswell Elementary School neighborhood or through donating to the Forney food pantry.

If you are new to Forney and trying to figure out how to make this growing suburb your home and thinking about visiting a church, we hope you’ll come check us out some Sunday morning. We meet at Criswell Elementary at 10am!

– Heather Creekmore