Second in a series on why to join a small group
In 1994, the year after we got married, my husband and I started a Christian small group. We’re still in the same group. Here’s why:
I was 32 when we decided to invite some friends to a weekly evening gathering, where we’d do a Bible study and pray for one another. I’d like to say my motivation was an abundance of holiness, but no, it was more – neediness.
I’d been married for a year, after more than ten years of wanting to be married, seeking and hoping and praying to be married. But after a year of being married, to the best of men, I was surprised to find myself lonely. All those rom coms had oversold romantic love. A husband wasn’t enough. A husband and God weren’t even enough. We needed something else.
We both had good families, and good jobs. We belonged to a strong church, had friends and hobbies. We traveled, we volunteered. Life was full, but we needed something else.
I found myself wanting my living room to be full of people who were walking the same path as Bill and I. People who were followers of Jesus, trying to be like Him in a culture that was pulling us towards selfishness, busyness and status. I wanted a large enough group to expand our perspectives, but small enough that we could tell each other about the junk in our lives and help each other with it.
We started with a couple we were good friends with, invited another couple who had just moved into town, and were soon joined by others.
I remember one of our first meetings, in the small apartment of the couple who had just moved into town. They’d come to Cincinnati to lead a campus ministry, which sounded cool to me, until I saw the plastic taped to their windows, and the government-donated cheese in their fridge. Not a lucrative field, campus ministry.
While the rest of us made more money than they did (we did end up among their financial supporters, by the way) we all had our own equally urgent needs of other kinds. It only took a few meetings to scratch through the veneer and start being real with each other.
We prayed together, for more money, more peace, more health, less fear, deeper understanding, greater love. We wrestled with Bible passages, seeing so many more facets of truth than we would have found on our own. Just talking about the things that were weighing us down lightened the loads.
The conclusion I’ve come to, after 29 years of marriage and 28 years of being in a small group, is that God is experienced in different ways when we’re alone, when we’re with a partner, when we’re with a small group, and when we’re part of a larger community. We need them all.
After our small group started, I knew I’d found what I needed. I wasn’t lonely any more. I had God, I had my husband and our full life but now I also had a safe group of people who would help us stay on the path we longed to walk.
Question for Reflection: What are some of your best group experiences, from any time of your life, in any type of group? What did it feel like?