PODCAST: Are You a Community Giver or Taker?

by | Mar 12, 2020 | Podcasts | 8 comments

Real community goes both ways!

In March we’re dedicating the month to talking about community, and this week we talked about 10 ways to break into a new church. One of the things we wanted to emphasize, though, is that community is not just about what you can get; it’s also about what you can give. And that means that, when we’re in community, other people do have the right to speak into our lives.

Plus I answered some reader questions! So listen in first, and then let’s talk. 🙂

Main Segment: How do you nurture community in your church?

We started off with a comment that was left on Monday’s post about finding new friends, where Jessica said:

We’re in a Sunday school class at our church, that has a core group that’s been together since fall 2005 when we were all engaged or newly married. Many couples have come and gone in that time, but there’s about 7 or 8 couples (including us) that have been in that class for all or most of that time, and while we really aren’t like a tight group that spends all our time together, we have shared a lot of history together. And I can see how someone could come into our class and think, these people have known each other their whole lives, is there really room for me here? So there’s a delicate push and pull between, a thriving church will have people who have close friendships and long-standing relationships and lots of shared history (and this is GOOD and you should want this!), and a thriving church will also have room for others to join the fold. I think it can be a challenge to have either without the expense of the other.

We talked again about what healthy community looked like, and how to break in (and what to do if people just weren’t healthy or reaching out, even with your best efforts).

Then Rebecca and I talked about the tendency today for people to talk about unsolicited advice as something always bad.

Sometimes it is, yes. Sometimes it’s a tool for manipulation, bullying, or condescension. But sometimes we’re putting people in a difficult situation by putting our emotional burdens on their shoulders, but then resisting help to lighten the load. So we went through a bunch of scenarios about what healthy advice and healthy community looks like, both online and in real life.

And I’d love to know what you all think about the phenomenon we were discussing! I think it’s really common. So what’s your take? Were we totally off, or is social media creating a false sense of community and making boundaries difficult to see?

Reader Question: What do I do if my daughter is having an affair with a married man?

A reader read my post on a daughter having an affair, and she had an additional question.

Our 23-year-old is still home with siblings in the house using our car and a part time job. She got fired from her regular job because of the affair (it affects the staff there). Help. I am so confused about what to do.

My quick answer is this: If she’s going to want to make adult decisions, then she has to have adult responsibilities. If she wants to still have the privileges of being a child, then she lives by your rules in your house. So I’d tell her to get her own place and her own car! But also make sure that she knows she can come to you if she falls apart.

Reader Question #2: What are guidelines for being good “in-laws” when your kids are dating?

A reader asks:

My husband and I are junior pastors at church. Our son and daughter are starting to date. We are ok with that because we studied and taught them about Bible perspective on dating, marriage, sexuality, etc. and read together good Christian books about it (like True love dates!!). We have a great communication.

But I don’t know about a christian book that talks about the in-law relationship. Even more: how to be a diligent pastor and a good, godly in-law for your children and their dates/spouses. I mean, my kids are dating persons from our church and I don’t know were I draw the line between being just a mom (in-law) and being the Bible teacher, counselor, pastor, etc. I want to be a good minister but don’t want to be a snoopy-mom-in law and ruin my children’s relationships.

My quick thoughts: Don’t assume you’re the in-law until they’re engaged. Don’t put pressure. Plus you’ll get really emotionally invested in the relationship, and it will be devastating if they break up!

But then, also, you should likely make sure there are other volunteers or mentors who can talk to them, so that they can go to someone else with questions who aren’t necessarily their girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s parents.

In general, though, relationships are relationships. Respect people. Treat them kindly. Look out for them, whatever their relationship to you.

Rebecca Says:

When it comes to kids dating, the best thing you can do is welcome their significant other into your family with open arms while also keeping some time for just you and your child set aside.

If you want to be an in-law that your kid and his/her significant other turns to, you’ve got to have the trust of both parties! My parents did an excellent job of not just inviting Connor to things but really getting to know him. We went Irish dancing together. Every time they came to Ottawa Connor joined us on outings. My Nana is the one he called to help him with ring shopping when he wanted to propose, and my dad and him even went on a canoeing trip together when we were engaged!

You don’t have to be the people that they come to with their problems. Pray that God will put responsible, wise, and discerning people in their lives who can fill that role. But prove to your child and their significant other that you are people they can talk to, have fun with, and call family.

Rebecca Lindenbach

So that’s it for today! Listen in, and then leave your thoughts. Were Rebecca and I right about Facebook? What should the mom of the daughter having the affair do? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


Recent Posts

Want to support our work? You can donate to support our work here:

Good Fruit Faith is an initiative of the Bosko nonprofit. Bosko will provide tax receipts for U.S. donations as the law allows.

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts


We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!


  1. Phil

    Becca – I love your thoughts about allowing others to give you suggestions and advice. Here is my take on what you were talking about: When you complain about something it is because you don’t know what to do with it. Therefore one should be open to receiving advice from others.

    • Arwen

      That’s always been my view too, Phil. If one is going to complain none-stop either stop altogether or take the advises to solve your problem. Sometimes though, some people thrive in dysfunction and misery. I’ll never understand it because that’s not me. If i’m complaining it’s because i need help solving my problems. As i hate misery or the company of it.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I’m so with you!

  2. Susanna Musser

    This general principle is right on, and all our lives we would have agreed with it. We should be at church because we want to give, not get.
    Interestingly, because of our now challenging life due to having adopted children with disabilities, the practical outcome of this belief is that we are staying uninvolved with church because we are “needy” and have little margin to be able to help. It’s difficult for us to even get there for one service once a week.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Wow, that’s such a blessing but yes, definitely takes a LOT out of you! But in those situations we need to, as a church, take initiative to go above and beyond for those in the congregation who ARE more on the “take” side–we all work together for the Kingdom of God, and by adopting your children that is MAJOR kingdom work. So I am sorry you’re feeling like you need to be uninvolved, because especially in your situation I think it’s even more important that the church rallies around you and supports you in your adoption journey!
      When we’re talking about this whole “go to give, not to take,” we have to understand there is nuance here. Obviously a mom with an severely autistic kid, for instance, should not have as much expected in ways of volunteering/initiative taking than a stay-at-home mom of neurotypical kids in elementary school. Your story is a really good reminder that we need to understand that not everyone’s story is the same. But for most of us, the main issue is not situational factors. It’s a lack of priority. And that’s what we’re trying to tackle with this particular podcast. And maybe if we had more thriving communities with people who really threw their all into it, families who really needed support and friendships would have more people to turn to!

  3. Ina

    The complaining thing is big! I find that the 80/20 rule describes what I can handle with a person (in general… if the person involved has depression, going through an intense time of grief this probably wouldn’t apply.) I have two mom friends I love dearly. I talk regularly to both of them. One is real when things are tough, texts to commiserate about tiredness and sleep training etc…but this is 20% of our conversations. And these ones themselves usually end with a redemptive note: tomorrow’s a new day orI love my kids to bits… I feel comfortable bringing my hard things back to her. I know she’ll commiserate and also rejoice with me in the victories
    My other friend, we’ll call her Debbie, is about 80% negative. She’ll say things like: “another dreary day, kids are insane little monsters and tomorrow I’ll do it all over again.” I don’t want to share my struggles or victories with someone like that! I don’t want to share my victories because it feels like gloating and I don’t want to share my struggles because it will start a downward spiral. I know she needs company in this busy season but after visiting for an hour I’m plum exhausted.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I think that’s an interesting perspective, especially when you consider Gottman’s research when it comes to positive and negative interactions in a marriage (you need 5 positive for every 1 negative, I think, for the marriage to be happy).
      And I get what you’re saying about having friends you can be real with–one of the women who works on the blog and I have been friends since we were literally 6 years old (20 year friendship anniversary coming up next September!) and I call her sometimes and say “Are you free? I need to complain” and she can do the same with me. And that’s a really important part of friendship!! but I like the distinction you’re making there–I think that may have been the part I was missing a bit in what I was saying in the podcast.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hear you! That is super tiring. It’s hard to find that balance between letting people vent, but also wanting it to be a productive conversation for both of you.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *