I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had decided against joining a small group.
My wife and I have been part of Sandals Church for years. Throughout our time here we have learned a ton about the Bible as well as what living the Christian life looks like. But just attending services on the weekend never felt like enough.
I kept hearing about this 'community groups' thing but meeting new people, committing to time I didn't have during the week and hanging out with complete strangers freaked me out. My reluctance to join held me back for years. But deep down I knew that being in a group was the right thing to do, despite my many concerns and excuses.
So, we decided to give groups a try.
Doing things outside of my routine often rubs my hard-headed nature the wrong way. It's never been easy for me to relinquish control and I knew the process of joining a group would throw me for a loop. In spite of my extremely nervous stomach and sweaty palms, my wife and I attended our first community group meeting.
Rather than be overwhelmed with anxiety, I decided to be myself and relax. Right away I felt so comfortable and welcome, like we had known each other all our lives. The feeling of friendship and being like family was immediate.
I realized I was right where God wanted me to be.
That was four years ago, and now I can't imagine my life without these people. Together, we've experienced many good times, like the joy of new babies, as well as some really bad times, like the loss of loved ones. We've shared it all together.
Through all the tears and laughter, I have the honor of calling this group my church family.
Recently, our group leader decided to step down and asked if anyone was interested in taking his place. Once again, the butterflies stirred and my heart thumped at the news. Did God want me to take over? Will someone else do it? I prayed and asked God for counsel, as I have found is always the wisest course of action. One thought kept coming back to mind over and over again and ultimately led to my decision, “What if no one else steps up to lead our group?” So, after much contemplation and prayer, I asked the group if I should step into the group leader role. Their answer confirmed what God was already showing me, it was a resounding YES!
Sandals Church’s vision of being real with ourselves, God and others took on a whole new meaning for my wife and I within our group.
Learning to trust God by joining and now leading a group has proved both challenging and rewarding. When he blessed us with this group he enabled us to be a blessing to others. These deep, soul-connecting friendships have encouraged and shaped us in our daily lives.
Are you like I was, perhaps still on the fence about small groups? Not sure what to expect? We were in that frame of mind until we decided to just say “Yes” and trust God with the rest. Since then, we’ve done nothing but grow: in maturity, in grace, in love. Our friendships in this group have proven to be true tests of our willingness to pursue other’s needs before our own. A day does not go by that we do not thank God for our small group, our church family.