There’s a lot that goes into moving to a new city. You’re house hunting in areas you aren’t familiar with, hauling all of your belongings in a U-Haul, trying to figure out which grocery store keeps the zucchini noodles in stock, and wondering when you’ll ever find a new dentist. But one of the hardest things about a new move isn’t finding a grocery store or a dentist, but finding community.
After graduating from college in May, I moved from the town of Oxford, Mississippi, to Nashville to start my full-time job at Lifeway. It was a lot of change at once. Typically, when I’ve gone through lots of change in my life, I’ve had consistent faces around me: my family, my friends, and my fiancé. This time, however, it was just me. And for someone who’s 99% an extrovert, this was anything but easy.
I remember being at a red light one evening, on my way to co-lead a discipleship group of 11th grade girls for the first time. I had just written in my prayer journal, “God, why am I in Nashville?” It was raining on my windshield, but when I looked in my rearview mirror, there was a gorgeous sunset. Ahead, there were trees, so I couldn’t even tell what the sky was doing there. It was in that moment that God seemed to whisper, You have seen the goodness of my plan time and time again in the rearview mirror of your life. It may be raining now, but you can’t even see the goodness that lies beyond those trees. Trust me. Philippians 4:19 was a picture of this: “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Little by little, I started to trust His plan for me here and made roots in this new city. As I put in the effort to pursue new friendships, I started having friends I could call on to go to Sonic or church with. I found community with those discipleship group girls, and I found a friend a few years older than me who has made Nashville feel like home. My roommate and I became close and started walking through this post-grad season together. God really showed me the importance of Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.” He didn’t say six or seven or eight or nine; he said two or three. Any form of community, however big or small, can be honoring to Him and enriching to us.
We weren’t meant to live this life alone. It takes effort, but finding Christian community is life-giving and points us right back to our Savior. If you’re moving to a new city or trying to get settled where you are, I highly recommend these ways to get plugged in and find community:
- Reach out to others first. Chances are, someone will hear that you’re moving to a new city and will give you the contact information for one of their friends. It’s easy to ignore these possibly frightening opportunities to blindly contact someone you don’t know. However, humbling yourself and reaching out to others is a step in the direction of community. It’s how I’ve made my best friends here! Reach out to someone, ask them to get coffee, and realize that this person may be seeking community, too.
- Don’t let your laziness hold you back. It’s easy to sit on the couch and find comfort in just watching your favorite Netflix show every night. That, however, isn’t the best way to find community. If you have the opportunity to spend time with others, take it! That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your movie nights—just sometimes invite others to join you. When people see you actively seeking community, they will likely open their homes and plans to you.
- Open up to people. You don’t have to stay surface-level with friends—even if they have only been your friends for a month or two. Discuss how this transition is affecting you, and listen to what your new friends have to say as well. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” Fostering community through honesty and openness will lead to deeper and more Christ-like friendships.
- Resist the urge to leave town. A couple of months after moving here, I was still going home pretty much every weekend. That didn’t help the mileage on my vehicle or the need for community in Nashville. When I chose to actually make roots in my new city, I found that there were always opportunities to spend time with others and get to know new people. Let your feet plant themselves and take steps forward, rather than pressing the gas pedal. Being present in your new city will make this new place feel more like home.
- Find a church. It’s easy to bounce around to a lot of different churches or just watch your “home” church online each week, but having consistency in weekly communal worship can bring a lot of peace to a season that isn’t always peaceful. That doesn’t mean you have to jump into membership after attending two services, though. Keep visiting, make sure your values align with the church’s mission, join a small group, and consider joining as a member.
Finding a community in a new city isn’t always easy. But God is still good, and truly, He is only good. And chances are, your community is just down the street. Reach out, take up offers to spend time with others, open up to one another, make roots, find a house of worship, and trust that every effort is helping you find a group of people that you will soon share life in Christ with.
Olivia Dear is an editor for Lifeway Christian Resources. A recent Ole Miss graduate, she now calls Music City home. Olivia enjoys writing, encouraging others, and combining the two. To contact Olivia, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow along at youwillseekmeandfindme.com.