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The Joy in Community

Life's significant moments would feel incomplete without companions to share them with.
Read Time: 9 minutes

Made for Community

What would you answer if I asked you what the five most popular words used in Scripture are? Perhaps love, sin, or law? Brother Brian Adams posed this question during one of his classes at the Ladore CYC weekend last year. He revealed that, excluding common words like and, the, etc., the top five most used words are: LORD, God, man, Israel, and people. It’s intriguing how these words almost form a complete sentence, revealing God’s overarching plan and purpose for creation: “The Lord God created Man and chose Israel to be his special People.” It underscores the idea of a special community, a family, into which we are blessed to be grafted by God’s wonderful grace. 

Recently, I watched the new Wonka movie, and in the final scene, he finally unwraps the chocolate bar his mom gave him before she passed. The golden ticket on it has a secret message, revealing the words, “It’s not the chocolate that matters. It’s the people you share it with.” With tears in his eyes, he breaks off pieces of the chocolate and shares it with his dear friends.

Although it’s not a very serious movie, it was a powerful reminder that life’s significant moments would feel incomplete without companions to share them with. God didn’t create us to be solitary beings; He designed us for companionship and community. From the beginning of creation, God provided a help meet for Adam because it was not good for him to be alone. It’s the very same for us. We inherently long to belong, to have people to call our own. God has instilled in us a desire to be part of something greater, to give and receive love from others.

Unsurprisingly, some moments in my life that have brought me the most joy were community centered.

Joy in Community from Grand to Ordinary 


In the Winter of 2022, my wife Bekah Thomas (Entwistle at the time) and I went to South Africa and were blessed to volunteer with a Christadelphian non-profit called Cuddle Trust. It was a life-changing, joy-filled experience serving the local community and preaching through action and service. There were seemingly countless moments of pure joy that filled each day we were there.

One of these moments was when twenty-three of us gathered to paint the walls of a creche (a preschool), adding vibrant colors and elementary shapes to the small school. It was remarkable to see the difference we made working side by side as a group, and we could tell it meant the world to the kind older couple who ran the school. I can still hear the infectious laughter of young ones who tirelessly chased me around the blueberry farm in one of the townships where we spent time.

One of the days, we drove out to visit a family in the faith that lived in isolation to dig and plant a garden in the family’s small dirt yard. After a few hours of working out in the sun, the father of the house disappeared for a few minutes and came out with a bottle of juice and a bag of chips. With a big smile stretched across his face, he sang the song “Brother, Sister, Let Me Serve You” and offered us all his heartfelt expression of gratitude. The brother was living out Paul’s call to “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16).1 It was a potent moment I will never forget.

One of my favorite things was called “Clean up for Christ,” where we gathered a group of people, garbage bags, and gloves, picked a beach or park, and spent a couple of hours picking up trash together. We wore matching shirts that made us look like a noticeable group, and we had people come up to us and ask who we were, which gave us the perfect steppingstone to preach. It was a great way to put our faith into action and preach by doing! Even if no one came up to us, it was just a couple of hours out of our day, cleaning up God’s creation he calls us to care for and bonding with our brothers and sisters in our group! One day, while waiting for dinner, we decided to jump into the ice-cold ocean.

Earlier in the day, we had tried to clean a park, but there was little to no trash there for our group to pick up. However, we found the busy beach we went to littered with trash. One thing led to another, and we had the whole group out on the beach doing an impromptu cleanup with our trash bags in the truck! It was the most special cleanup I have ever participated in, and it was so clear to see how God was at work! We had wonderful conversations about faith with locals on the beach, and someone even approached us for trash bags to join our beach cleanup! My heart was warmed to see how our small faith action had inspired others to follow suit.

I will forever be grateful for the memories we created and the warmth the Scheeper family embraced us within their homes. Their children and grandchildren were constant companions in their united efforts, mirroring their outstanding example of serving with joy. Whether eleven or three, they eagerly participated in crafting activities, playing with children, and enthusiastically joined in our Clean Up for Christ efforts.

As our time together drew to a close, we found ourselves belting out unfamiliar tunes on long car rides with our newfound companions. I was left with not only a treasure trove of memories but also a precious handmade cloth figure gifted by nine-year-old Lexi. This simple yet heartfelt gesture symbolized the deep bonds formed and the unforgettable moments shared during our joyous journey of a lifetime.


Each year since January 2020, a group of young Christadelphian brothers have made the long drive to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. What began as a simple desire among our group of friends to reunite during the winter break of the college semester has blossomed, by God’s abundant grace, into a cherished tradition of joyful fellowship and spiritual upliftment.

Over the past four years, the group has grown from a small group of already close-knit friends to an expanding group that makes finding a large enough Airbnb to host us a tall order. The weekend is full of Bible study, great food, goofy games often involving hot sauce, outdoor adventures, and plentiful heartfelt conversations. It has been a weekend that I eagerly look forward to each year and a great source of joy in often dreary winter months.

After our trip in 2020, many of us in the group decided to extend the invitation to others. Over the past few years, the Poconos Weekend has brought brothers together who may have lacked connection with others in our faith community outside their local area. It has even connected several young brothers who might not have ever met! The weekend has offered a sense of belonging and has fulfilled a need for fellowship outside our ecclesial walls.

Over these past four years, I have a collection of fond memories. I recall a disc golf outing when one of the guys made a really long putt, and we all ran around yelping with joy in the snow. I reflect on the time spent in God’s beautiful creation as we catch up with each other’s lives and share meaningful, heartfelt conversations. From our yearly tradition of taking a silly prom picture as we check out of our Airbnb to our acapella rendition of “Seek Ye First” sung in the van, complete with off-key notes galore, every moment has been a genuine blessing. These core memories made with my brothers in Christ have brought immeasurable joy to my life.

Our shared hope in Christ is the cornerstone of our gathering and is the primary source of joy each year. It’s remarkable how our morning devotions and discussions often spill over into the afternoon, fueled by our desire to share spiritual insights and ideas. I vividly recall a moment in 2022, seated in the living room, gazing from one familiar face to another, overwhelmed with emotion as I reflected on the privilege of spending precious time with friends who all were earnestly trying their best to follow Christ. As David beautifully expresses in Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” I couldn’t agree more.

It is truly powerful to witness brothers who had never met before the weekend develop special bonds and grow a special closeness, making all the hours of planning and coordinating more than worth it. For some of us, it might not be another year until we see each other again, but we cling to the joy of our fellowship together until we meet again. 


Since this past September, Bekah and I have been hosting a monthly CYC, which young people from all the New England ecclesias have attended. We have a different brother speak each month, addressing the overarching topic of “Why Choose God?” We’ve been blessed with twenty to twenty-five attendees, and the kids have even been bringing their friends from school!

There are CYC-age kids in most of the ecclesias in New England, but there isn’t a single ecclesia with more than five or so kids, and it seemed to fill a need in the community. For myself, going to CYC was foundational to the development of my faith, and I’m not sure where I’d be without it. It provided the opportunity to connect with other young people in the faith and helped foster a sense of belonging and community.

Even before CYC officially launched eight months ago, it was a source of immense joy for me. We reached out to the ten young brothers, asking if they would be willing to contribute by giving a class, and each one responded enthusiastically, “Yes.” I can still picture the Zoom call, listening to each brother express the significance of CYC in their lives and their gratitude for the opportunity to support it for the next generation. Since its inception, witnessing the impact of CYC on the kids has been incredibly rewarding. It’s heartening to see members traveling long distances, some driving nearly three hours each way from different states, just for a few hours of fellowship at CYC. Some have gotten rides from non-family members in their ecclesia who willingly give their time to make attending CYC possible for the young people in their area. 

Just this past month, when one of the girls spotted a car arriving that she recognized, she immediately jumped up and ran to give her friend, who she hadn’t seen in a month, a big hug. The aspect that brings me the most joy is seeing how much the kids want to be there. Even though CYC “officially” wraps up at 8:30 pm each month, the kids do not want to pack up. Instead, they continue chatting and enjoying each other’s company for as long as possible. This past month after CYC ended, the kids randomly started playing duck, duck, goose together for nearly an hour, all of their own volition, smiling from ear to ear. What they do doesn’t matter, even if they’re just playing a simple kid’s game. They just want to be together, and it is priceless to witness. 

Countless moments have brought me such joy—from Justin (a thirteen-year-old) asking that we promise to continue CYC next year, to a thank you text from a parent dubbing us “magic workers” because she saw her daughter smile, and four young brothers commit their lives to God in baptism. There truly is no greater joy than to witness God’s children walking in truth (3 John 1:4). I feel beyond blessed for this monthly injection of joy these young people have brought to my life.


Joy within a community doesn’t solely rely on grand, infrequent events. It often shows up in the ordinary moments we share, such as gathering together on a Sunday morning or for midweek Bible Class. In Acts 2:46 (NASB), we witness the rapid expansion of the faith in Jerusalem and find that the believers were “day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” These early Christians found profound joy in their community’s simple act of fellowship, making it a regular part of their lives.

God made us with a need to share fellowship with our brothers and sisters to encourage each other on our shared walk to the Kingdom. In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews (10:24-25), he calls the believers to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” We simply can’t neglect to meet together. We need the encouragement and joy that our fellowship and community bring. 

It is often the little moments that bring the purest joy. The hug that you hold for those few extra seconds. The smile that you get when you lock eyes with a loved one. For me, it’s running up and down the stairs of our hall with baby Jonah as we both shriek with excitement. It’s staying at the hall after Bible class until 10 pm, talking about anything under the sun, and just soaking up each other’s company.

It’s the simple but special handshake I do with my ten-year-old buddy Ben when we see each other on Sunday mornings. It makes me smile just thinking about it. It’s when an older brother at the ecclesia I recently joined looks at me sincerely and says, “I love you.” It’s singing hymns about the coming Kingdom as a collective group that lifts me up and transports me to the day, we will sing hymns of praise all together in Jerusalem.

We read in Isaiah 55:12 that we “shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” I get chills just thinking about it! It’s the laughter and intimate conversations shared over a potluck lunch. The night before his crucifixion, Jesus wanted most to share the joy of fellowship with his disciples. Jesus took great joy from the community he found in the fellowship and friendship of those twelve men. Do we appreciate the joy of sharing a meal with our brothers and sisters like our dear Lord did?

We often need these small weekly moments of joy from our fellowship to sustain us until the following week. These moments of joy are a shadow of the unimaginable joys we have set before us in God’s coming Kingdom—the very same joy to which Jesus clung to endure the cross and despise the shame, as we read in Hebrews 12:2.

Sharing Joy in Christ

Whether big or small, grand or ordinary, we find joy together in Christ. There is joy in the hope we have in Christ. “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4 KJV). The gospel and the hope we have in Christ are the true sources of our joy, and the community we share in Christ fuels the flame of our joy. In our faith community, we find joy in being a part of God’s family, a family that offers true companionship and belonging. Whether it is in the once-a-lifetime trips across the world, yearly weekends of intimate fellowship, monthly youth groups, or the weekly ecclesial events, we can all find priceless moments of joy in a community that give us a glimpse of the joy we hope to share in God’s coming Kingdom.

Seth Thomas,
Cranston Ecclesia, RI

  1. All Scriptural citations are taken from the English Standard Version, unless specifically noted.
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