Building Community in Small Groups

Today, I am linking up over at  (in)courage. The topic is Making Community.

Since we moved a lot when our children were younger, small groups were the way we made community quickly in the new places we lived. Most of the time, we were the leaders. Because once you tell a pastor that you’ve had small group leadership training and have led small groups, you’re “signed up.” And, because my husband and I are proactive types of people, leading was a “no brainer” for us to finding friends.

We’ve had some great groups and some groups that struggled. Today, I’m just focusing on two of the best groups we were privileged to be a part.

First, Colorado. We only lived there for 18 months, but when I look back it seems longer mainly because of the great small group we had. It took awhile for us to find a church, but once we did, we were ready to get busy making friends. I think that is so important when you are living in a new place. You need to put yourself out there and purposely go looking for those friends. Few people are bold enough to come up to you. I know I’m not that good at it and I try to be better since I know how it is to be the “new” person.

I really can’t remember how our group formed. I’m sure there was some sign-up method. I do know the pastor introduced me to MaryBeth and she then recruited people for our group. That small group seemed to gel quickly. We all had kids around the same age. Most of us were transplants. It just seemed to work. Several of us moms would meet during the week at a park with our kids or at the pool. As a group we went to Les Miserables when it came to town and then out to Cheesecake Factory afterwards. We also went camping together. We had Super Bowl parties. We had fun as a group. We also grew spiritually together. This group was one of those where as leaders we didn’t have to work too hard for discussion. These people liked to talk! We helped with each other’s kids. My husband got pulled into doing a drama skit one Sunday. Many of us provided meals for others in our congregation because one of the ladies in our group oversaw that ministry. We all pulled together to help paint and build sets for the kids Christmas production because both the director and assistant director were in our group. We wanted to ease their burden (and it was a HUGE production for a small church!).

When I think back on that group in Colorado, it is a wonderful example of what community is all about. That group was the textbook small group. We grew horizontally and vertically together.

My second favorite small group (if that is a way to put it), is the one we started here in southwest Indiana for other homeschool families at our church. This group also started from a need my husband and I had. We asked one of the pastors at our church if there was a group of homeschoolers meeting together regularly and there wasn’t. He suggested we start one. So we did. First, with monthly gatherings and then it just naturally flowed into a small group meeting 3x/month. We had a lot of people come and go in that group because of moves. We also had a difficult incident at one time. But, after three years, there was also a lot of growth, fun times, and a great group of friends were made. Again, we had a common thread–we all homeschooled.

I think for a small group to really gel, there needs to be some common thread. Whether it is age, spiritual maturity, singleness, widowhood, or something else, there needs to be something to draw the group together. Sometimes, that “thing” isn’t obvious at first, but it becomes apparent the more the group meets.

I cannot imagine not being in a couples small group. When my husband and I have not been in one, our spiritual growth has not been as strong, we do not have the strong friendships, and life just blows in the wind. At least for us, that has been true. But, I think for anyone, just attending church services each weekend and not making some sort of connection with others, would also make the same things happen.

I am so thankful to God for all of the groups we have been in. We’ve grown from each of them, even when they didn’t work so well. I cherish the memories of those friends and enjoy thinking back to the fun times we had. Since we’ve lived far from family, they’ve been our family and our support.

I encourage you to purposely go searching for that community of believers if you are not in a group right now. Ask a pastor for recommendations of groups at your church. If you don’t have small groups at your church, start one–you’ll be blessed for having done so.

Those are my thoughts for today.


2 comments on “Building Community in Small Groups

  1. I like that about there needing to be a common thread for the group to gel, it gives me hope for the new group my husband and I are joinging as the purpose is one I’m excited about… exploring God as an artist, which is something I’m not sure gets done much.

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