I have always felt God through community. Growing up in a Christian home, my parents did a good job building a faith community around me, and I was super involved in my church. After going to a Christian school through eighth grade and feeling like I owned the place, I went to a public high school. It was a shock! I knew four people out of 450. No one knew me; I was a nobody. It was also shocking how many kids didn’t know God, but it was good because it opened my eyes to the world. After my experience in a public school, I decided to go to a Christian college. It was interesting, though: since everyone was assumed to be a Christian, faith was not the primary focus of our conversations. A Christian college doesn’t force you to find that community—it just kind of exists. So when I moved back to Minneapolis after graduation, I was craving Christian community again and started attending Upper Room at CPC on Sunday nights.
Although I started at Upper Room—which was primarily focused on twenty-somethings—I knew long-term I wanted to get involved in a multigenerational church. I became a member at CPC and later got married, and I went through the membership process again with my husband, Austin. Then someone told us about Catalyst, a Sunday Community for newly married couples without kids. We decided it would be good for us to get to know some people in the church, and Austin and I also wanted to figure out what we wanted our marriage to look like. As members of Catalyst got older, we became young couples with young kids. And now our kids are becoming friends.
In our Sunday Community we really care for each other. Every time someone has a baby (this seems to happen a lot!) or is sick, we have meal trains. We vacation together and do weekends at people’s cabins. Women check in on each other and offer prayer requests in a text chain. I love surrounding my kids with a community that loves Jesus and loves them.
I think without the people, church just becomes a building. If I just wanted to hear a sermon, I could go to any church. The people make the church, and the people keep me there.
We also learn together. We’ve done Bible studies and marriage studies. We workshopped family mission statements: what is our family going to be about? Kids’ Ministries taught us about sticky faith. And currently we’ve invited older mentor couples to share ways they have made their families and faith stronger. Each couple chooses a different topic to discuss with us: boundaries with extended family during holidays; the importance of tradition in a family; using Myers Briggs to better communicate with our spouses. We are working to put God at the center of our relationships, and I can definitely say our family is stronger and our marriage is better because of Catalyst.
I still think about this advice I heard in a sermon years ago: surround yourself with people to make you stronger. Being with other Christians helps you grow in your faith, makes you a better version of yourself. I think without the people, church just becomes a building. If I just wanted to hear a sermon, I could go to any church. The people make the church, and the people keep me there. I love that CPC has become a second home for our kids.
I know it can be intimidating to be the new person in a group. But I would just say, show up—and then keep showing up. That was us when we first joined Catalyst. Relationships are never immediate; you have to put in the time to build them. The first time is the hardest, but we’re welcoming! Give it a try. Then give it several tries. It is so worth it.