The First Step to Connecting with Your Small Group
There’s no denying that College Park is a large church. The first time I attended, I realized how easy it is to slip into the mass of people and go generally unnoticed. However, I knew church was more than just attending a Sunday morning service by myself. Christians are called to be in community, and Small Groups are a modern effort toward the early church model we see in the book of Acts. So, I made the conscious decision to get plugged in right away–to worship God in community, share my life with fellow believers and regularly invite the Holy Spirit’s presence.
When I got married, my husband, Dan, and I decided to prioritize Christian community together and joined a Small Group in August of 2017. We were fortunate to join a group that was just starting up.
Going into the group, I had an idealistic view that we would all be fast friends, eager to share the deepest parts of our hearts together. This was certainly not the case right away—in fact, it’s taken about a year and a half for us to feel truly comfortable with one another. I wish I had remembered then, that relationships are marathons, not sprints, and most good ones don’t happen overnight.
They also take consistent effort, and that’s another thing I’ve learned as a Small Group member. Dan and I decided from the beginning to take our commitment seriously. We desired authentic friends, willing to walk alongside us through different seasons of life and offer accountability and encouragement. Usually, the people who seem to be the most dissatisfied with Small Groups are usually the ones who are less willing to commit.
That’s one reason our Small Group leaders regularly emphasize attendance. If someone misses Small Group excessively, it ultimately robs other members of relationship. Cultivating an environment of authenticity requires trust. When people are not present and regularly engaged in your life, it is simply more difficult to be vulnerable.
Being regularly engaged means making it a priority to be there. It means making sure your boss knows that not working on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. is non-negotiable. It means pushing yourself to go to Small Group even after a long, hard day. It means not compromising that slot on your calendar for anything that may seem more “fun.”
Our Small Group has a wide variety of backgrounds and personalities, but our unity in Christ is what brings us together. Small Group does bring challenges sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade our community anything. We are all committed to pursuing Christ and lifting one another up. Dan and I have truly enjoyed our time getting to know and walk alongside these brothers and sisters in Christ. In sharing our faults and scars, we’ve experienced the love of Christ countless times through a group of supportive and faithful believers.
But it takes time. If you have recently joined a Small Group and are not feeling connected, I encourage you to give it more time. Ask the Lord to reveal any unrealistic expectations or selfish motivations you may have for attending the group. Ask him for a renewed heart and be on the lookout for ways you can more intentionally engage. It’s difficult at first, but it’s so worth it.