I'll Tell You What I Think About Small Groups
Small groups. Or connection groups. Whatever you choose to call it. What goes through your mind when you hear those words? Do you have an internal eye roll? Do you fill up instantly with fear? Do you just say, "eh, that's not my thing." Do you tell yourself you're not good enough to be involved in one of those. You're not "fixed" enough, yet? Too church-y for you? Unfortunately, in the past I've had every single one of these thoughts.
Because some people view church as a task they do every week so they can check it off their list
Maybe you're someone who lights up because you've experienced the benefits of said groups? Because some people view church as a task they do every week so they can check it off their list and feel pretty good about themselves, it would be unimaginable adding another meeting to that list. Don't you believe God wanted so much more for us than just a Sunday morning check-in on our "church-family." After all, we do share the same Father. We are part of the same heritage. We are all going to inherit mansions in His kingdom. Doing life together is a bit challenging, though, isn't it? We don't want to mix this church thing up with treating each other like family. I mean in order to do that, you would actually have to know some things about one another.
Because that may require a little vulnerability. Quite a word isn't it? Vulnerability. Is that a goal you set for yourself? Is that something most of us set out to be or to do? I'd imagine that would be a big ole NO for all of us. It's mostly viewed as a negative thing, but why can't we choose to see it through positive lenses? What does that word actually mean anyway? Let's take a look at what dictionary.com says...
vulnerable [vuhl-ner-uh-buh l]
1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body. 2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery. 3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend: a vulnerable bridge.
When I look at the words used to define it I'm tempted to run from this very subject let alone practice it. I think of Jesus. He put Himself in vulnerable situations many times, especially with His close friends. Why would He do that? Why would He want us to do that?
Yep, life gets super busy. The week flies by and sometimes there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.
We have been involved in a small group now for over a year. This past week was the first time I've been more vulnerable than any other time. I didn't plan it. It was the farthest thing from my mind. I've come to believe these people we meet with every month care about us. Pray for us. And we care about them. Pray for them. We all communicate here and there throughout the month. Not just at church. Yep, life gets super busy. The week flies by and sometimes there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. But you know what? It's worth the minute or two it takes to throw out a quick text or call to see how their week is going.
"investing in each other, it's key."
A bit of a side note to add here. Any relationship takes years to build. Years. Our connection with the group we're involved in didn't happen overnight. In fact, we've known everyone of the members of this group for well over 10 years. You can definitely get to know people faster than others depending on the time you spend with them, but to really get to know people it requires "investing in each other, it's key." (A note taken in Sunday School)
As strange as it may sound, when you build godly relationships with others, there's a safety in that; especially when you're vulnerable. It's a place to encourage & be encouraged. It's a place to share your struggles & triumphs. It's a place to grow together in the most important relationship of all - with Jesus. To challenge one another. To learn. And yes, even to laugh. What better medicine is there than to laugh?
With all that said, I now can say I'm one of those that lights up inside when you mention connection groups (I personally prefer this over calling them small groups & of course, is just my preference). I've been very blessed to be a part of one. To be accepted. Loved. Encouraged. Challenged. Held accountable. Grown. I believe it's so vital for our growth to have those of like faith to come along side one other & lock arms in the Name of Jesus.
I used my arms with my fingers interlocked and waving of my arms to emulate a sense of connection.
Over lunch Sunday, I believe I summed connection groups up something like this: On one side you have church, where you have somewhat of a connection with people, but it's typically only a talk-about-the-weather type of connection, unless you go to Sunday School where it does get deeper & you're able to build some relationships. Yet, it's still easy to just keep that separate from your everyday life. On the other side when you add a connection group it carries your "church life" into everyday life...I used my arms with my fingers interlocked and waving of my arms to emulate a sense of connection. Not really getting my point across here, am I? I guess what I'm trying to convey is that for so many of us "church" is a separate part of our lives...it's disconnected from who we are all week long. I don't think we intend for it to be that way, but it is. It's as if we wear multiple hats & our Sunday hat goes back on the hook until next Sunday. We think we should wear a different hat throughout the week, but it really should be the same hat all week....it's my belief that being involved in a connection group is key to our growth and the remedy multiple hat syndrome.
Consider these verses....
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 one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, Acts 2:46
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42
How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, Acts 20:20