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When I left the church in 2010, I left the luxury of ready-made community.

I’ve tried other things since, including Toast Masters, but nothing came even close to the quality, depth, authenticity, accountability, and intimacy of community the church potentially provides.

Last night Lisa and I were invited to old friends and their extended family, for New Year’s Eve. They were always like family. They kind of adopted us. During my departure from ministry and the church, though, this relationship came under strain. We taken efforts, on both sides, to heal the divide, to the point now where we can enjoy one another’s company again.

At one point last night we were all sitting around in a circle in their living room, having wine and bourbon, and talking. The kids were in the TV room watching a movie. The host went asked around the room how our year was, and what we hoped for the coming year. I must say, it was marvelous. It felt like home group again. There was no prayer, although there was some religious talk. But that’s fine. I now know how to process that.

The point I want to make here is that the value of community is priceless.

Yes, even though TLS is an online community, it is a great one. It really is. Believe me. I’m a part of other groups attempting the same thing and they are blowing up with conflict continually, and people give up and they close down. The members of TLS have learned how to function in a diverse group, and it is marvelous to be a part of that.

The real, face-to-face community we experienced last night was so good, so rare, and so healing. People got real, raw, and honest. There was no criticism or correcting. Just listening. Just like TLS does.

I walked out of that house feeling heard and loved. I also left feeling more loving and caring to the people who hurt me years ago. I saw and experienced the benefit of letting things go and inviting new ways of relating and being human together in.

I so love the way we do community in TLS. But if there’s any way you can find a small group of people you can gather with and get real with, I recommend it. It can really round out your life well.

I hope you all have a great 2018!

Your friend,