How a small group became my lifeline
I was a floater in high school, and I liked it that way. Let me explain... I was never stuck in one circle. I hung around with the smart kids, debate nerds, and orchestra, because, well, that's who I was. I also fit in just fine with the sports crowd, playing soccer, cheering on every sports team. I was friends with the partiers, the loners, the quiet, the loud. I even had summer friends "at the lake," giving me friends and groups of friends at other high schools. It was great! There was always something to do, people to see, and places to go.
My adult life felt very similar. I worked in Christian camp ministry, which meant I formed really tight relationships with summer staff, only to bid them farewell in the fall. I got used to never really caring if a friendship stuck or dissolved. I was forever an acquaintance. I was totally content, I must admit. I never really had to invest, and yet I still was filled up by others.
However, one day, I became a stay-at-home mother. My world flipped upside down.
I went from working with people, being with people, being with friends, to rarely seeing another adult soul during the day. My needs were no longer met. I dove into a depression that had me questioning my identity as a wife and mother; it left me bitter and feeling terribly alone.
I don't remember who, when, or how, but someone suggested joining a small group. I had never needed anything like that in the past; I almost scoffed at the concept. Who would want to join a group where you have to listen to other people (clearly a weakness of mine)? Where people might get emotional or try to bond? Even with these hesitations, I signed up.
That Bible study was a lifeline. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could unpack the sin and strongholds I had allowed to accumulate. Not only were people praying for me, but they held me accountable for the things I said I wanted to change and needed to change in my life. Even though the names and faces changed over the course of 7 years, the impact on me has always been a positive one, helping me grow spiritually and emotionally. God used a small group experience to grip me and transform me into the person He wants me to be.
Here's my hard sell: if you aren't in a small group, get in a small group. Do it. Don't let hesitations draw you away from what you need. I'll leave you with three reasons to join a group:
1. Accountability. It's very easy to hide your sin in your heart when you don't have relationships with others. Before being in a group, I held on to a lot of bitterness and anger, unmet expectations, and I could! Because no one was calling me out on it or challenging me to choose something better for myself.
2. Growth. In all my years in full time ministry, I never grew spiritually as much as I did when I was in a small group. Not everyone thinks the same way as you- that's a good thing! Learn from others' ideas, goals, and struggles. Diving deep into God's Word with others will transform you.
3. Obedience. The early church was clearly constructed in a way where believers were meeting together daily in each others' homes, carrying each others' burdens, and spreading God's love. Showing up on a Sunday morning, worshipping God, and going back home doesn't count as a thriving relationship with Christ. Spend time investing in relationships with other believers!
Hebrews 10:24-25 says "and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
God designed us to be in relationships with Him, and with others. Don't settle for good, strive for great. Allow a Group at New Anthem to get you there!
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