Cyndi and I have participated in community groups (small group Bible studies/discussion groups) for a number of years. I think we both feel that church and our faith is best lived out in small groups. Worship services are fantastic – we both love them! But authenticity among fellow believers is best when the surroundings are more intimate and the level of trust is high among the participants.
When we first began a small group at our home, our hopes were high. Hopes that through weekly gatherings, we could develop a sense of community among friends that would transcend the artificial Christianity that is prevalent in churches across America. What we discovered was that people have a tough time being real with each other. I think in part that fear is based on our on shortcomings. “What will people think of me if I tell them how I really act or talk or think?” What I learned in that first community group is that it is tough to find community with people who don’t want it! As our relationship with Christ grew, Cyndi and I were challenged to make changes in our lives – changes that demonstrated our walk with God! As we acted on that developing relationship, some of our community began drifting away – distancing themselves from us!
For the past 11 months, Cyndi and I have commuted weekly from Inverness to Tallahassee to lead another community group and attend City Church. It’s been a sacrifice that could only have been accomplished with God. We have travelled over 16,000 miles and spent thousands of dollars on gas and food. But what I have realized most recently is that God has used us in this group in an incredible way. Not our leadership but simply our obedience to Him. Listening and acting on what He has called us to do has had an incredible impact on a number of people – mostly those who we share our lives with each week in community.
I told our group last night that as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this week, let’s reflect on what we are really thankful for. Let’s not just say the words that others expect us to say. I am thankful for our community group and the opportunity I have each week to invest in their lives and to let them invest in ours.
Community is important. I hope you find a spot in one where you can be real and allow others to support you too.