Last week I began a course called CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) that runs alongside my pastoral work. It's not so much the kind of course where you sit and learn information, but one where you reflect in a group on how you're caring for people. While this training is intended for Pastors, Chaplains, and other spiritual care-givers, many of its lessons have relevance to all of us as Christians in community with each other.
How do we build deeper relationships and stronger community? One of the foundational skills is listening - ask people how life is going, really going, and care about the answer.
Another is reaching out - beginning conversations with people that you haven't talked to, or only talked to on a superficial level. As you look around church today, are there people here who you've seen regularly but never talked to? It may be a bit scary at first, but there's not much to lose and a lot to be gained by going over and having a chat to find out who they are and what their lives are like.
A third and valuable skill is to develop the desire to see how God is working in the lives of each person you meet. We certainly believe He is alive and at work - it's amazing what you can uncover by talking to people about who God is to them.
Developing skills and experience in these areas will make all of our lives richer and help our community to grow in love and faith.