I’ve had a lot of fun being a small groups pastor for six of the eleven years I’ve been in full-time ministry. One thing I’ve learned is that the work is never done. There are always new people to meet, more leaders to recruit, and better strategies to implement. But I’ve also noticed some things don’t change. Human nature is remarkably stable. People’s need for genuine friendship and a safe place to grow spiritually doesn’t change.
Why, then, do we hesitate to embrace community? Here are three of the biggest reasons, and how to push through them:
I’m Too Busy
It’s the number one reason. And I get it. With countless priorities competing for our time and attention, it can seem like being in a group is something that can wait until that undefined time when things “slow down.” If that’s you, tell yourself this:
Community matters for me.
There’s a reason Jesus began His ministry by picking twelve people with whom to share His life and work. It’s because we weren’t meant to do life alone. We innately desire connection. The question isn’t whether we’ll fill our life with community. The question is, “Who will that community be?”
When we let busyness get in the way of investing in meaningful relationships with other Christians, we lose focus. If we want to be the kind of friends, spouses, parents, and leaders God calls us to be, we have to fill our lives with the kind of people we hope to become. Not only will godly community push us toward godly goals, it’ll help us avoid pitfalls along the way. In other words, it’s worth the space on your calendar!
I’m Not Comfortable Opening Up to Others
This reason hits home for most of us. We all have parts of ourselves that we’re not completely comfortable with. Developing genuine friendships means getting to know others and in turn, being known by them. And that can be scary. Vulnerability is a healing choice, but it’s a choice that requires courage. If you’re feeling like being part of a Christian community is a little too risky, tell yourself this –
Community matters for others.
There’s only one thing in this world that will last forever. It’s people. Most of us want to lead a life of significance, but none of us can solve all the world’s big problems. The best and easiest way to use your life well is to invest in the people God has placed around you. When you do, the return is eternal.
That’s why it’s worth it to push past our fears about connecting with others. There are others who need a word of encouragement from God – and it would come best through you! You don’t have to share everything about your life, especially at first (although someone else in your group is probably facing a similar struggle). You can take your time getting to know others and building trust. But you’ve got value that only you can uniquely offer to others. And they can’t benefit from it unless you show up!
I Don’t Know What to Expect
We all have different personalities and life experiences that influence how we relate to new opportunities. For people newer to church, who have never tried anything beyond a weekend service, joining a group can feel intimidating. If you’re a massive extrovert, it may sound like fun; but if you’re an introvert, that first meeting may sound like a lot of work! If you can relate, tell yourself this:
Community matters for the world.
*The story is bigger than you or me, and it’s worth stretching ourselves to be part of it. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes the church as a body, created with unique parts, fit together perfectly by God, and ready to do His healing work in the world. Healthy friendships, families, organizations, and churches don’t just benefit their participants. The grace they share ends up being an example to everyone around them.
We have over one hundred groups at Grace that meet all throughout Central Florida. I like to think of them as little Grace outposts for mission planted in every neighborhood of our region. Many groups have already found ways they can serve their neighborhood together. It’s amazing how one small step toward connection can make us part of something so much greater than ourselves. Connected to Jesus and empowered by the Spirit, we can be used by God together in ways we could never imagine!
Are you ready to take one small step to test drive what it’s like to be in a group? Join us at every campus for Discover Groups this Fall! During this four-week experience, you’ll meet new people, learn about Grace’s House Rules, and have the opportunity to jump into a new group with people you’ve met throughout the study. Classes start on Wednesday, September 27th at 6:30p. Dinner and childcare are offered. Register at discovergrace.com/discovergroups.