Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why Small Groups?

Growing up, my family and I went to church on Sundays. Sometimes there was Sunday school, we did church camps, and as we got older, we attended youth group, too. But it wasn't until I met Josh and we moved to our small town in Illinois that we attended (and pastored) a church that promoted small groups... the idea being that you meet on Sundays with everyone to worship and then you meet with a smaller group during the week to really build relationships, deepen your understanding of Biblical principles, and in turn, strengthen your faith, family, and friendships. Let me just be honest for a moment and tell you that I was not thrilled with this idea when I first heard it. To me, it was just one more night out of the week that we had something we "had to do" and believe me, we do not have many nights of the week to spare. But as the pastor's wife, well, I really did not have much of a choice now did I? I begrudgingly (a lot of things were begrudging for me in those early pastor's wife days) complied and we hosted a small group in our home for six months and then spent the next six months attending one at a friend's house. And you know what? I enjoyed it... I really did. I hung out with people that I probably wouldn't have and got to know them and their families on a deeper level, rather than just a "hey, how are you?" level that we sometimes have at church every week. It was there that I got used to the idea, wrapped my mind around it, and had it start to become something I "got to do" rather than something I "had to do." And then we moved...

I don't think a person understands the value of something until it's gone. When Josh and I moved here, we literally knew one family, and even though we met some people along the way, it was a slow process to build some new friendships and relationships. It was about four months after our move that we met another pastor and his family and they invited us to attend their small group. It was kind of intimidating being on the "invited" side of things rather than the "hosting" side of it, but we lived right around the corner and did not have any other plans, so we figured we should go. And you know what happened again? Yep you guessed it- I really enjoyed it. That first night we just shared appetizers and chatted and then over the next few months we did a study together (after the appetizers and small talk of course!). Oddly enough, that pastor and his wife ended up playing a significant role in our planting process and we all do ministry together now, so that makes the small group experience in this case just a little sweeter. We stopped meeting around the holidays knowing that our church would launch in February and all of us would be starting our own small groups after that.

Let me just tell you that if I was intimidated or nervous about that last small group, this one was even scarier. When we hosted in Illinois I at least knew everyone in the group before they showed up at my house, but this time around, it was made up of people that I had met maybe once or twice. People signed up, I set out some food, and on a Thursday night they came to our door and gathered in our living room. We did the social time, had the small talk, and it went as good as it could have I guess... I think we all gave each other a little grace since none of us knew one another, and because of that grace, they came back the next week, and the next, and the next. And during those weeks we grew closer, and closer, and closer... and then our attendees started inviting their friends. We quickly outgrew our house and had to move it to another where there was no space and before we knew it, our "small" group had grown to about forty people... not so small anymore! And it wasn't until about May when we were getting ready to break for the summer that the few of us "original" members looked at each other in disbelief when we realized that we had only met each other less than three months before. In that three months these people had become our best friends- our family even- and made this large city feel a little more quaint and a whole lot more like home.  We had found a place where we belonged.

As we look forward to meeting that next group of people this coming week, I am nothing short of giddy about the opportunity to be a part of another connect group (which is what we call a small group in our church). Once again the friends we made in our last group are all setting out to lead groups of their own as well, and I am excited to see them all grow as leaders. Some might be where I was at one time and complain that it's giving up one more night of their week, but to be honest, it's the one night of my week that I never want to miss... and you won't either.

So just in case you're not entirely convinced, here are my top ten reasons why YOU should make sure you're a part of a connect (or small) group:

They can talk you into encourage you to try new things...

They can be there to celebrate your accomplishments... or those of your kids:

They can provide you with a partner in crime, 
ensuring that us "grown-ups" get to have just as much fun as the kids.

They can teach you new dance moves (be nice to me boys, I could have posted video!)

They serve the community together -
here are some of us cooking dinner at the Ronald McDonald House

They can provide free childcare.  In fact, sometimes they practically beg
to take your children for a night so that you can have a date night.

*Granted, sometimes said childcare is a little bit questionable.*

They can provide excellent company on what would have been just another ordinary weeknight.

They can teach your children all kinds of new skills... 
again, said skills are somewhat questionable as well.

They are willing to dress funny, act silly, and sign up to do crazy things with you.

And the NUMBER ONE reason that you should join a connect group?

Because you never know just what special friend is out there waiting on you...
you might just find that special someone who really "gets" you.

 In all seriousness, if you're on the fence about whether to join a connect group this semester or worried about "giving up" one more night, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. Church on Sunday is a great start, but deeper friendship, love, and truth is shared when you meet in a smaller group setting.

And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:42)


  1. SO True! I miss our First Pres Young Adults group, but it's those friendships that started there that have lasted well beyond, and I am so grateful for them. I'm starting to miss having connections/community here and need to find a new group soon.

    1. I checked online and that Cornerstone church that you were invited to has TONS! You guys should definitely check it out before the new baby gets here!

  2. I have heard nothing but good about small groups! I really should buck up and try one...I find them so intimidating!