I have been part of my church community for the past four years, one month and 7 days. But, as many of you can probably relate to, when I first start attending church, I found it a bit overwhelming. I enjoyed coming to church, but it was quite challenging to get to know people beyond a friendly hello and goodbye.
That is, until I joined my first small group. I’ll admit, the idea of becoming part of a group with people that I didn’t know was slightly daunting at first. But, I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and caring the other members were right from the start. They embraced me with open arms and as the weeks passed, my sense of connection and belonging grew even deeper.
Since then, I’ve had the privilege of being part of 9 small groups and I’ve had the adventure of leading 6 of them. Some of my closest and most meaningful friendships have come from these groups.
I believe this is because of what’s at the very heart of what a small group represents. We all have a desire for connection, belonging and meaningful interaction. God designed us to live life in community; we’re not meant to do it alone. And being part of a small group allows us to foster godly relationships while growing in faith and serving the church and the community.
Being part of small groups has blessed my life in countless ways. Here are the top five:
- Celebrating together and suffering together: I am always so thankful to have a group of friends who cry with me when I grieve and celebrate with me when I rejoice. The encouragement, support and love that I have received from my small groups always made the valleys more bearable and the mountaintops more enjoyable.
- Serving together: Part of being in small groups is serving as a unit, not only inside the church but also in the greater community. My small groups have participated in Soup Kitchens, Prayer Walks, Homeless Outreach and Street Evangelism to name a few. Being able to collectively give of your time, energy, finances and talents is very rewarding and works to really bond a team.
- Being accountable together: Whether it was sticking to a Bible reading plan, starting a weekly exercise regime, or being more disciplined in your devotions, having accountability partners was one of the highlights of being in a small group community. The opportunity to be lovingly challenged to grow in the image of Christ is invaluable.
- Praying and studying God’s word together: We all agree that prayer is powerful and God’s Word transforms us. Being able to be vulnerable and transparent about your struggles and prayer requests knowing that you were in safe and confidential environment allows you to really open up and get deeper with the people in your small group. Witnessing answered prayers and transformation in the lives of others is a beautiful experience.
- Enjoying life together: If you thought it couldn’t get any better… Small groups are also lot fun! Pizza outings, karaoke nights, bowling, brunches, lunches, dinners and much more! Laughing and enjoying life together is an important part of small groups and really is icing on the cake.
I asked a few of my friends and former small group members what they loved most about being part of a small group. Their answers included:
“Edifying one other and building each other up in faith”
“Being reminded of God’s Character by seeing Him work in the lives of others”
“Being reaffirmed of who I am in Christ and getting glimpses of how God sees me”
“Being able to give one another strength”
“Community and encouragement”
“Sense of belonging”
If you want to be part of a diverse community of believers with whom you can pray, serve, grow and enjoy life, I would highly encourage you to consider signing up for a small group today. I guarantee that your church experience will be much more rewarding.