Community Building: The Best Tools for Builders…

The other day as we were driving…somewhere…the kids were listing our “hobbies.” Saffron declared her hobby to be shopping. In response, both Dr and I quickly said, Shopping is NOT a hobby.

She’s so me. A decade ago.

Skillet said his hobby is to be “fierce.” And he is. Those sweet chubby cheeks just scream kissable FIERCE.

According to them, my hobby is scrapbooking, which is true, about once a year.

They had a hard time coming up with my husband’s hobby. Mostly, his hobby is his job.

Band people gonna band.

But after a minute or so, they decided Dr’s hobby is building things.

I mean, if there were an award for Best Family Unit Hobbies we would absolutely win.

Scrapbooking, shopping, building stuff, and generally being fierce.

You could totally replace those things with words like exciting, intriguing, culturally significant. (SARCASM FONT)

The Best Tools for Builders

Clearly, “fierce” and “building things” are the best (and most useful) of our family hobbies. Dr. built our oven “hood” and additional kitchen cabinets in our current house. In our previous houses, he’s installed a pallet wood wall, built floating shelves, and hung every curtain rod meticulously.

But he doesn’t “just” build. He fixes and replaces and improves most anything around the house and sitting in our garage.

He is literally the best.

For a man with a doctoral degree in conducting (directing a bunch of people playing instruments with a baton from a podium), his ability to build me a floating flower bed outside our kitchen window might seem off.

“One of these things is not like the other.”

(You’re welcome.)

However, he says he can do all that stuff simply because he’s not afraid to try.

And YouTube.

He utilizes the tools he has available to him, including those YouTube tutorials, a general curiosity, and a financial need to not pay someone to do simple tasks. All of which has led him to this place in his life where he dreams of a garage of his own someday.

Some men dream of theater rooms or sports cars. My man daydreams about his own workshop with electricity and a TV for ESPN.

Hammer and Nails

As we’ve been discussing building community over the past two weeks, we have been basically looking at all the tools we have available to us.

Look left, look right to see the people around you and decide to say yes to invitations. Show up and stay at the places you might normally drop and go, be the friend you want others to be for you, and don’t cancel yourself out of life.

And those are good tools. A good place to start.

But once you find people, once you start building those authentic relationships, then what?

How do you move from small talk about the weather and activities to meaningful conversations about hopes and dreams?

What tools do you have to finish building that community you long for?


This is not earth-shattering information. If you want to build real, lasting community, you are gonna have to listen and share. There’s really no way around it. Scripture says this…

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” James 1:19 (NIV) (emphasis mine)

The Message says it this way and I totally love it…

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.” 

Lead with your ears.

At the heart of every person, our deepest desire is to be known. Really. That’s it. We want people to know us and love us and cheer us on and we can’t do any of those things if we never shut up.

Ask them about them. 

Start with the easy stuff. Where did you grow up? Siblings? Did you take dance or shoot basketballs or try out for the chess club? Ask about their career, their dream career, even. Ask about their kids. People love to talk about their kids. Ask about the last movie they saw or their latest Netflix binge or what book they’re reading.

The possibilities are endless.

People want to talk about themselves. It’s not selfish. It’s comfortable. And as the questions move from surface stuff to deeper issues, you just keep asking questions.

Screwdriver, wrench, and level


This tool might be harder. But I like what The Message says after leading with your ears…

Follow up with your tongue. 

If you want to move on past that surface stuff, you’re gonna have to follow up with your tongue. You’ll have to be willing to share. It doesn’t have to be some huge, life-altering revelation about yourself…yet…but something meaningful and personal to you.

This isn’t sharing your deepest sin on day two. This isn’t even sharing your biggest dream on day 72. This is simply opening up and talking.

Someone has to go first when it comes to sharing. Be prepared to go first.

It’s possible they’ll open up just from your questions but it’s possible they won’t. You might have to share apart from offering a simple response to a question or maybe in response to the most common question, “How are you doing?” No one ever answers that one honestly. You might give it a try.

Regardless of how and when you need to be ready and willing to offer this new friend a piece of your heart. Share with them so that you can be known by them and give them a chance to respond.

Hammer and nest


Consider this the legalese on the back of the drill package that warns you not to attempt to screw your little brother’s head to the wall.

Do not allow listening nor sharing to become gossiping. 

These tools are to be shared with you and your friend as you build a relationship together. Not about a third, fourth, or sixteenth person not currently at the worksite.

This is so easy to do, and there is a place for Godly counsel about a situation, but when you’re getting to know someone and they are getting to know you, gossip taints the entire relationship.

And believe me, I am incredibly guilty of this. (SO MUCH)

If you think back to your conversations and a good bit, if not most, of them center on discussing someone else, that’s gossip. And it has no place in community building.

In fact, it tears down community.

Like a tornado through a mobile home park, y’all.

Work vest, tools and nest

Building community is hard. It’s scary and unnerving and extroverted even. Words I would rather never associate with my life. But they are not the worst. The worst would be isolated, lonely, forgotten.

And I have felt all of those words. Some for a brief season, some for very long years.

Because of those seasons, I am willing to be brave and step into the scary, unnerving, extroverted world outside my chocolate milk-stained couch and computer.

What about you? Are you ready to start building community?



(No tools were harmed or hidden by children in the making of this post. All tools returned to their proper spot on the workbench. Thank you for your concern.)

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