Thriving Connections in Christian Community

In this thought-provoking episode, Michelle explores the complex world of spiritual growth and finding authentic connection in Christian communities. She tackles the tricky topic of midlife transitions, questioning of faith, and the search for deeper meaning and purpose. She explores the impact of phrases commonly used in church circles and the signs of spiritual abuse within Christian communities ("doing life together" and "plugging in"). Drawing from her own experiences, she emphasizes the importance of remaining connected to Jesus and seeking genuine, supportive relationships within the church. Michelle encourages listeners to take a leap of faith to find authentic connection and fruitfulness in their spiritual journey. This is an episode that will challenge, inspire, and encourage you to seek genuine growth and connection in Christ.


Michelle Rayburn is an author and podcast host who helps others find hope in the trashy stuff of life. She has an MA in ministry leadership and writes Christian living books, humor, and Bible studies. Together with her husband, they've raised two sons and gained two daughters-in-law—plus three granddaughters (go estrogen team!) and a grandson. Dark chocolate, an iced coffee, and a good book in the hammock top Michelle's favorites list.

Key Ideas


  • Exploration of the challenges and transitions faced during midlife, including the questioning of faith, search for deeper meaning, and desire for authentic connections in faith communities

The Impact of Christian Community on Spiritual Growth

  • Discussion of the significance of spiritual growth and genuine fruitfulness in the context of remaining connected to Christ
  • Interpretation of the analogy of the vine and branches from John 15, highlighting the importance of staying connected to Jesus and the organic nature of spiritual growth
  • Emphasis on spiritual practices such as prayer, reading the Bible, and spending time with God
  • Reflection on the challenges of spiritual abuse and the importance of maintaining healthy relationships and spiritual well-being
  • Listing of red flags to watch for in spiritually abusive communities, such as manipulation, control, isolation, and rigid doctrine
  • Highlighting the characteristics of healthy Christian communities, including love, compassion, and mutual respect

Navigating Christian Community

  • Reflection on the positive experiences with healthy Christian community in contrast to unhealthy ones
  • Emphasis on the importance of finding genuine connections with others who cling to Jesus as their vine
  • Encouragement for listeners to take a leap of faith to find authentic connection and fruitfulness in their spiritual journey


Michelle Rayburn fearlessly tackled the delicate subject of spiritually abusive communities, shedding light on the signs that can indicate manipulation and control, isolation, shaming, and more. By addressing these warning signs, she empowered listeners to recognize and confront toxic behaviors within Christian communities, emphasizing the important role of love, compassion, and mutual respect in healthy spiritual growth.

But the episode didn't stop there. she also delved into the powerful analogy of the vine and branches from John 15, highlighting the organic nature of spiritual growth and the critical need to stay connected to Jesus. She stressed the significance of engaging in spiritual practices, underscoring the necessity for genuine connection over a sense of obligation.

Throughout the discussion, Michelle Rayburn wove in personal reflections, creating a relatable and authentic listening experience. She acknowledged the challenges of navigating church community involvement and the importance of finding one's place while extending grace to imperfect institutions.

In the midst of thought-provoking insights and heartfelt reflections, the episode ultimately delivered a message of hope and encouragement, urging listeners to seek genuine connection and spiritual fruitfulness in their journey of faith. It spoke to the desire for authentic relationships and highlighted the potential for positive transformation within Christian communities.

If you're seeking wisdom, authenticity, and a fresh perspective on faith and community, this episode is a must-listen. Join the conversation and explore additional resources by checking out the Life Repurposed magazine on Substack. Take a leap of faith and embrace the genuine connections waiting to be discovered on your spiritual journey.

Other episodes to check out:

Episode 157: Unexpected Difficulties an Opportunity to Grow

Life Repurposed Substack Magazine and Bonuses

Life Repurposed is where midlife meets inspiration, practical guidance, and renewed purpose amid life’s evolving chapters. We navigate faith questions and messy, uncertain twists with humor and a commitment to pursue treasure, even in the trashy stuff.

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