Small Group, Growth Group, Community Group, Cell Group, Home Group. If your church is like mine and many others, it encourages deeper relationships and connectedness through smaller groups of people...whatever they call them.
We have participated in several groups over the years, and have grown and benefitted from all of them. Usually we have studied a book together, and prayed together and ate together (food is important). We have been a part of the groups that met weekly and those that met monthly; those that had a covenant together, and those that are more casual. We have been both half-hearted members and sometimes the leaders. We have had groups that have walked us through baby parenthood, celebrations, difficult decisions, depression, marriage issues, job loss and grief over the years. We have celebrated with others as they rejoiced and sat with group members struggling with infertility, with crisis, with emotional challenges, and with faith struggles.
I'll never forget the privilege of being with a friend from small group in the delivery room when she unexpectedly delivered twins at 24 weeks...while her husband was out of the country. It was intense--I was one of the only people to see her precious daughter alive. We prayed her little son through months in the NICU and on to a healthy strong life. We grieved and celebrated together over the years. And as we walked through our own NICU experience years later...that same couple (who we lived states away from at that point) were such an encouragement and practical help to us. They even sent us rolls of quarters for the hospital vending machines! We will always have a special place in our heart for Jack and Janet--and we wouldn't know them if it wasn't for small group.
There have been times when we haven't felt like being in a group, and still were. There were times when we weren't in a group at all and probably should have been. And there were times where we LOVED our group and still had weeks where we had to force ourselves to go. We were always glad we did.
We were created to be in community. We need it. Yet it isn't always easy to find. Last year, after we had a family crisis of sorts (that I affectionately call The Big Mess) we knew we needed support, and people to be connected with at a deeper level. Hubby and I talked about what we wanted and needed in a group at that point in our lives. We needed intimate relationships, we needed people we could be real with and who would be real back. We needed accountability, and prayer support, and we wanted to offer the same to others. We wanted people we could laugh with. Even though this phrase is overused, we wanted folks to "do life with". We didn't feel like we needed another Bible Study (we both had those types of groups). We needed some peeps, you know? So, we started our own group of folks we thought were looking for the same thing...
I affectionately call them the groupies. We are 6 couples (now 7) that meet bi-weekly at our home. We have been taking turns each telling our "story"--one a week and we haven't finished yet. I LOVE hearing how God has worked in people's lives. So many different paths, yet God has creatively called each one to Himself. We also share prayer requests. We are pretty open with each other...we have had group members struggling with some pretty tough stuff, and I SO appreciate how they are willing to let us in to pray and support. We also talk about unimportant stuff. There is lots of that. And laugh. I laugh so hard in this group. We have a hard time staying on track and I think it's safe to say some would think we are obnoxious. We don't care. We are able to be ourselves. We care about and for each other. We point each other to Christ. Isn't that what community is for?
Some of the groupie girls. Yup, taken the same day as the photo in this post, thanks for noticing. I need to take pics of our group!
I am so thankful today for our groupies. We just met this past Friday after illness had us take too long of a break...and we had a wonderful time. Obnoxious, yes. Laughter, yes. Tangential, yes. A God-story, yes. Community, YES. What a gift.
I'm unwrapping that gift over at Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky. Pop over to see what gifts others are unwrapping today.