one of the greatest barriers to community is actually great people. how can i possibly say this? well i have experienced it. i am blessed to work at a church with tons of incredible people who passionately love jesus, live on mission, serve the least of these, care for the orphan and the widow, encourage one another, exhort one another, etc. all that you could want in community. the problem is that there are so many of them. you want to know all of them. you find yourself doing something each night with different awesome people. you may hang out over a meal, or perhaps you are digging into deep conversation, maybe even praying for each other. but it is not consistent enough to really say that you are living life together. and you are not together enough to really live on mission. the danger is that it can feel like community and you can even be encouraged, but it is not true biblical community.
having tons of great people around can be an invisible barrier to community for a couple of reasons. you feel like you have it but you are actually completely missing it. it is not inherently sinful to spend time with people so you do not even see it as a problem. but when you are busy spending time with all of these great people, it is hard for them to know you well enough to know what is going on in your life, much less your heart. they don't really get to know you or get down into the junk of your life with you. until you spend enough time together or experience some stressful situations or conflict, the real you does not often come out. just the well put together you, that most people like.
secondly, if you are spending all of your time, running from place to place being with all these great people, you suddenly don't have the time and energy to live on mission. spending time with all these people may not appear to be bad thing, but it may in fact be the very thing that is keeping you from living out the mission god has called you to. it is deceptive because you are not doing anything bad and you may even experience some growth and encouragement from it. it is an invisible barrier i think many people in our church encounter without even knowing it.
third, when we are busy chasing after the people we really like, we often miss out on the exact people the lord has for our community. sometimes the ones who god will use to grow us the most, sharpen us the most and even encourage us the most, are not always the people we would chose, but they are the people the lord has place around us. if we are always busy hanging out with new people, we will bail on the very ones we are called to be in community with. we will inadvertently become that person who is always looking for something better and is never satisfied.
and one more thing, community changes with the ebb and flow of life (i am currently wrestling with this). sometimes you do not have to move cities for the lord to change your community. life goes in seasons and sometimes, your community goes with it. you have to let go and move forward. not because you do not love those people, but because in order to follow christ, this is what must happen. it will become a hindrance if you still try to keep up with everyone and move forward. you can't put your hand to the plow and look back.
so take a look around you, who has the lord placed in your life for community now? who do you need to be intentional with? who really knows you? who are you not only doing bible study with, but also serving with? who knows you well enough to speak into your life on a regular basis? if you have 50 million friends that you see a couple times a month, i am not so sure you have community.