Small Groups

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about small groups, the friends I’ve made, and the ways in which those relationships have altered the course of my life.

Around a decade ago I joined a new church. I wasn’t looking to change “religions” exactly, but I was longing to find friends in my age group that shared my beliefs and values. My little sister was kind enough to accompany me on my search, and I finally settled on a non-denominational church that felt like home.

A few weeks into attending regularly, a young woman tapped me on my shoulder & invited me to join her small group for an ice cream social the following week at the small group she co-led. To be completely honest, the idea of attending a social event full of people who were already friends, while I knew no one, sounded like the worst idea ever. However, I’d been praying specifically for Christian friends my age for a couple years now, & I figured I kind of HAD to suck it up & go.

Once I was there, it was pretty much what I expected. Everyone was really friendly & sweet, and I felt completely awkward inside. But… God had a surprise for me! While I stood awkwardly in that kitchen planning my escape, in walked one of my best friends from high school (Marie). We lost touch during high school, but when she walked in, I knew I was where I needed to be.

I stuck it out & began attending regularly. Those girls became like sisters to me, and I can honestly say they changed the direction of my life. In addition to attending small group, most of them served in the teen ministry at church, so I joined too. Through that I had the opportunity to be mentored by some incredible leaders and I was taught to understand the Bible in a real & tangible way I’d never experienced before. I can honestly say that my relationship with the Lord would not be what it is today if it were not for the leadership I served under & the friendships I enjoyed during the several years that followed joining that small group.

Over the years several of us went in different directions. Marriages, families, & careers took some of us across the country & other across the world, but those girls will always be like sisters to me. I was honored to be in Melissa’s wedding. Karen invited me to her wedding after only knowing me a few weeks. I was so honored to be included and I can’t even express to you the blessing I felt when she later allowed me to love on her kiddos like they were my own.

Through the years I’ve been fortunate to belong to several amazing small groups. My leadership skills were developed by observing great leaders. For years I’d felt a tug on my heart to lead a small group of my own. I always tucked it away for “someday.” After-all, what do I know? What makes me qualified? When I brought it up to my current church though, they didn’t even hesitate. They trained me, encouraged me, and supported me… and away I went!

I’ve been leading a group of young adult women for almost 2 years now, and it’s amazing to me what God has done. I’ve made friendships I never knew I always wanted. The truth is, I’ve been blessed with some pretty great friends, so I didn’t think I needed any more. Plus, I really hate awkward small talk with strangers, so I was really hoping mostly people I already knew would come… but they didn’t.

It’s been such a privilege to meet & develop friendships with the women that joined this group over the years. Whether it was for a season or the long haul, these ladies have changed my life. It’s been incredible to watch them grow in the gifts God gave them. It’s taken my breath away to watch them step up & meet one another’s needs. One friend came to this group, and through her friendship & support I landed the career of my dreams. It has the potential to completely alter the course of my life.

I’ve really been struck the past few days with how much God has done with simple acts of obedience, stepping out of my comfort zone to attend that first small group and later to step out & host/lead a small group of my own. Who knew so much could come from stepping through my fear & anxiety into what God had planned for me? My life would be radically different today if I chose to remain in the safety of my comfort zone.

If you’re on the fence about joining a small group, or anything else you feel God calling you to, I hope you’ll choose to take that leap. It probably will feel awkward & uncomfortable at first, but I believe God wastes nothing, especially acts of obedience. I can’t wait to hear what He does with your leaps of faith. Leave them in the comments below. =)

 

 

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