It started with my front porch. While sitting one morning with my coffee, overlooking the town park, I had the idea to gather women together before the start of the school year. I posted a question on Facebook and sent off a few texts to friends: “Anyone interested in gathering on the first day of school and praying for the year?” One by one, mothers responded, and when school began, 20 of us gathered to pray. We listened to one another’s joys and sorrows and marveled at the mutual feelings.
Before we parted ways, another mom asked if we wanted to get together weekly for a mom’s group. One invitation led to another, and now, two years later, we have a group that gathers weekly to care, pray and share the joy and tension of raising children.
I had been living in our town of 1,000 for eight years when I made this invitation. Being a pastor and married to a pastor, we are known. We’re invited into people’s lives and have a built-in community through the church. When we’re out and about in town, we run into people we know and there’s always some event happening. Yet, this community wasn’t necessarily my community. Over the years, I’ve had friends and the occasional playgroup and walking buddy. But there wasn’t a group to call my own. That is, until I waited long enough for this magical, life-giving community to appear on its own.
Now each week I connect with a group of moms and their kids. I give thanks for park playdates, snacks shared among friends, and conversations that lifted up myriad mothering experiences. These gatherings are the result of saying yes over and over again, of offering invites and showing up, of being honest and vulnerable, of having small conversations about big things: sleep deprivation, making friends, childhood milestones, sickness, worry, love, and forgiveness.
First, it was this mom’s group, and then it was starting a book club and joining a trivia team. I found once I started inviting others into community, opportunities for gathering and creating were all around me. And I believe these invitations are acts of creativity. Much like creating a piece of writing or a meal, or a painting, creating community takes a willingness to go first. Creating of any kind sees the people and places before us with possibility. And I found that once I started being the one to invite, I couldn’t help but see the infinite amount of ways to create community.
Maybe you love to cook — what if you started a cooking or diner club?
Maybe painting or scrapbooking is your jam — what about a weekly create night?
Like to walk and hike — invite others to join you outside for an adventure.
Ready to make a change in your community — invite others to speak out for justice with you.
Whatever desire is stirring in your heart, maybe now is the time to invite others to join you. Maybe now is a time to trust that God is calling you toward something new. Find a spot in your community and sit, listen to how God is stirring in your heart, and see what emerges.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is a writer, pastor, wife, mother of two, and the co-author of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years (Morehouse Publishing, March 2023). She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Missouri. When she’s not at the park with her children, walking around town, or tending to the garden, you can find her with a pen and paper. Or a good book and a cup of coffee. She believes in the power of words, unearthing the extraordinary in the ordinary, and encouraging others to follow their passions. Connect with her online at kimberlyknowlezeller.com, on Instagram (@kknowlezeller), or her Substack Newsletter.