Thirteen years ago Rick and I were still newlyweds and new to New York when the church we attended decided to start small groups. We signed up for one led by the only people we knew. A week later another newlywed couple, about our age, visited the church. I nearly accosted them, insisting that they join the same group, oh “and I love your dress!” (Flattery always goes a long way.) Momentum continued and before long our small group included three couples, three families and a little bit of lightning in a bottle.
We met every Sunday night in the home of the family with the youngest child. (This rotated since someone always seemed to be having a baby.) We read through books together, took Communion together, studied the Bible together, celebrated holidays together, prayed together … We shared our lives together.
Yesterday we experienced a beautiful and fully unexpected reunion. Rick, the kids and I drove forty minutes and across the Hudson to meet our friends’ newest baby. Before long more joined us and we celebrated an entire day of great food, terrific friends and fond memories. Thirteen years later and we still felt wonderfully, elaborately connected. Not everyone was there. One family has since moved back to Germany, another now lives in Virginia. But as we prayed (before diving into a glorious tray of sushi) God reminded us how blessed we are and all that He has brought us through … together.
Changing jobs … Buying houses … selling houses … Illnesses … Financial difficulties … Marriage difficulties … Infertility … Children (We’re now up to 20 births from the original six members!) … Loss of pregnancy and loved ones … Sharing Christ with our communities … Uncertainty about purpose … Trials of faith … Growth … SO MUCH!
We don’t meet every week anymore, but we’re still like family. We don’t share everything any more, but we know that we’re always there for one another when things need to be shared.
A lot of people change churches or complain about their churches because they don’t feel connected … they don’t feel “fed” … they don’t “fit in.” Community is important and the best way to get it is to join or start a small group. Even atheists will start a church if it means gaining community.
Not every group will be this “lightning in a bottle” of commitment and growth. In all honesty, we’ve not found another one quite like it, but that’s okay. Any connection is better than no connection and those truly unique connections can last a lifetime. (Is anyone else singing Michael W. Smith’s “Friends are Friends Forever?”)
What do you gain from a small group?
Most small groups center around a common theme: Bible study, book club, prayer group, accountability or hot topic discussions. By consistently meeting with a small group of believers, you’ll gain:
- Spiritual Growth
Well, you may have to step out of your comfort zone a bit and sacrifice a night of TV. It’s really not much of a sacrifice.
I encourage you to get involved in a small group through your church or community of believers. If you can’t find one, start one! There are TONS of great resources available for this purpose. I highly recommend anything by Francis Chan or Margaret Feinberg, but there are a lot of other great books and videos, too. You could even use the study guides for Big Word to get started. They are free.
Your Turn: Are you in a small group at your church? If so, what have you found most valuable in it? If not, why not? What might entice you to join one?