I remember this past fall, peering around the room at my new small group. I wondered how well this group was going to go. Yes, I’d been through this many times before, but sometimes you wonder if this is the group that just won’t click. Connection was slow the first few weeks, but people consistently came. Everything was fine but not necessarily great. That is, until the night we began to talk about family.
As I asked a question about how our family has influenced who we are today, one of my group members took a deep breath and said something like, “Ok, here we go,” and shared their story. Their brave and honest answers opened the door for others to share their own experiences and our group suddenly changed. We ended the group that night praying for some serious stuff going on in each other’s lives and group has not been the same since.
As I think back through all the groups I’ve led I shouldn’t have been surprised. It happens every single time. A seemingly random group of strangers gather and wonder how they’ll ever relate to each other. Then, after a few weeks it starts to make sense. You begin to see God working in your group. A few of you have similar issues at work, with your kids, or spouse, or your health. Suddenly it seems like God has specifically brought you together for this moment.
These moments add value to my life and remind me how much I love leading groups. Sometimes it’s stressful and draining dealing with babysitting and crying kids and wondering who’s going to show up. But, every time I decide to dive back in and lead I find that God has something special waiting for me.
A few years ago a couple in our group was working to adopt a child. We prayed for them every week as they waited and hoped that they could one day be parents. We prayed for them as they took classes and filled out paperwork. We listened to them as they wondered if it would ever happen. And then, many months later, we had the honor of celebrating with them as they drove to meet the little boy they would be adopting.
That year, we saw God answer prayer. We were able to share in one of the most important moments in another couple’s life and we will forever feel honored to be able to share that time. There may have been times when it was stressful to get our young kids to and from group, but every time I see their little boy, I see an answer to prayer and it was definitely worth it!
If you aren’t a part of a group right now, I’d strongly encourage anyone and everyone to join a small group. I believe there are gifts that God wants to give you and things he wants to show you, that you’ll only be able to see in a small group.
If you’ve attended a group for a while, maybe you should consider leading a group of your own. I love how leading a group challenges me to pray and to grow. I find that group leaders aren’t spiritual giants, they’re just the ones who want to grow and hope some people will come with them.
As we head into Thanksgiving, I was thinking a lot about how thankful I am to lead my small group. I feel so honored to walk with them as God grows each of us in a special way. Whether you lead or simply attend a group, I hope you all will be able to experience that for yourself.