The Joy and Importance of Spiritual Community

What to Look For and How to Find It

Human beings need to be in relationships. We feel that we are not fully living when we don’t have people in our lives with whom we can be ourselves, and feel safe and supported while we grow and learn. A positive intimate and committed relationship can give some of this. There is a different and additional benefit to be gained from spiritual community. Having a deeply connected conscious community of people with whom we share significant parts of our inner and outer lives fills a need that is not filled through a romantic connection. Many have left spiritual communities because of the hypocrisy, cliquish behaviors, judgments, and rigid exclusivity they found there. How can you find a true spiritual community that will nourish your soul and lift your spirit?

Spiritual communities must be built on a common belief in what matters and what is greater than us in consciousness and scope. They must have a leadership that is highly ethical and deeply inspirational if they are to last and thrive. When seeking out what kind of a community is right for you, you will first need to ask yourself what you want. Do you want primarily a social network of people that is lightly linked around spiritual subject matters? There certainly are those. Or might you want a community with which you can go deeply into that which is transformative and into a profound and real relationship with God? If that is what you are seeking, you will never be happy with a loose knit community that is mostly social. Transformative and deep spiritual communities are much harder to find. They will inevitably have one or more strong leaders at their core, because in-depth spiritual work always requires guides and teachers who can take the members into the sanctity of their own divine inner beings.

If real growth and development is your goal, you will also need to find a community that has individual instruction and provides guidance and help with communications between you and your own feelings, and you and other people. Dynamic communities can be an immense help in learning to communicate better with others, both by learning to listen well and speak honestly and kindly. So there needs to be help and instruction on how to communicate and how to hold conscious, honest, and loving relationships with ourselves and others. Advice and help for couples and for parents is important. There should be fun time as well as serious instructional classes. And without worship and devotion opportunities, you will find that your heart does not open and develop and you will never really experience God.

A loving and conscious spiritual community can be one of the most important elements in leading a full and joyful life. Look for the elements that matter to you, check out the integrity of the leadership and members, visit the places, ask questions, pray about it, and trust your heart to tell you the truth. May you find your spiritual home and flourish there.