The Invitation I Didn’t Know I Needed
When I was in college, I got invited to a small group.
I didn’t want to be invited. I didn’t want to go. The only reason I was considering it was because a woman from a local campus ministry came to my dorm room to invite my roommate, but she wasn’t there. So, the woman invited me. This is the same woman that, when she would call up to our room to announce she was here, I would yell, “Hide my cigarettes!” Surely me being invited to her small group was a bad idea. At that point in my life, I was bad at telling people “No,” so I said “Yes” to the invitation.
I immediately wondered what I had gotten myself into. You see, I was trying to figure things out with God. I wasn’t sure where he and I stood. My lifestyle was definitely on my own terms. And all this brought up questions about what it was going to mean when I visited this small group. Did everyone there know all the Christian things? Were they all perfect? Were they weird? Were they going to judge me?
Fast forward many years (and many more small groups), and I now am on staff at our church working with small groups. If you had told my college freshman self that this would be the case, she would have said you were crazy.
How did this happen? The short answer is that Jesus changed my life, and small groups played such a profound role in my relationship with God that I don’t think it is too strong to say that I wouldn’t be where I am and wouldn’t be who I am without those people along the way.
Maybe you are like me, and when you hear Keith say on a Sunday morning, “Don’t be an idiot. Get your butt in a small group!”, those same reservations pop into your head. I have helped hundreds of people at this point get involved in a small group.
They all wonder the same things: Is small group a place you have to have it all together? Why is this necessary when I go to the worship service? I’m pretty busy. Is this worth my time?
Have you had those same questions? Here is what I would say to you…
- Is small group a place you have to have it all together?
Let me tell you a secret. NO ONE actually has it all together. EVERYONE has pain, struggles, and things they’d like to hide and change. Small group is a place to come as you are. We all want to grow in our faith. We all want Jesus to change our lives and bring the goodness, healing, and love that he promises, but none of us experience a perfect life until the afterlife. So that means small group is a place where we can be real. We can admit our struggles. We can pray for one another. We can look at God’s word together and be strengthened, corrected, given perspective, and encouraged to form new habits.
Slowly over time, this does help us have it more together. Charles Spurgeon, a famous pastor in the 1900s, encouraged his church by saying, “Appear to be what thou art, tear off thy masks. The church was never meant to be a masquerade.”
Amen. Let’s tear off our masks.
- Why is small group necessary when I go to the worship service?
Think about being in a class in a lecture hall. You listen to the teacher for an hour. Maybe you take some notes. Along the way, you have some questions, but there’s no time to ask them. At some point, you wonder what this information means regarding how you live and what you think, but at the end of class you walk out of the lecture hall and move on to the next thing. Such is life.
But consider, if you had space during that class to discuss, to ask questions, to apply…how much more powerful would the content become? Exponentially more powerful -- it has a chance to be clarified, solidified, take root, and take action.
That is what a small group does. It is in the safe relationships of a small group that we learn from one another and discuss together so that the ways of Jesus are clarified, solidified, take root, and take action in our lives.
- I'm pretty busy. Is this worth my time?
Okay. I hear you. I know our cultural norm is to be super busy. And for some of us, this may not be the season to join another thing. But for most of us, we have discretionary time— we are just spending it on other things.
What if I told you that spending time in small group would indirectly improve the other areas of your life as well? Over the years, I have found that being in God’s word and having the support of other people has made me a better employee, wife, and mother. It has helped me be a better friend, care for my body, and persevere with difficult extended family members. Because following Jesus speaks to every area of our life, spending time in a small group can give us the space to reflect, consider, and prioritize the parts of life that matter the most.
In the end, I couldn’t figure out a way to not go to that first small group, so I went. To my surprise it went better than I thought. The girls were warm and welcoming. While I didn’t know how to use my Bible, the leader was patient and didn’t make me feel ashamed for not knowing anything. She made me feel comfortable with where I was at and even made space for some of my questions.
The biggest shocker to me was that the conversation felt relevant to my life. It was actually good to talk in a meaningful way about some of the things I was trying to make sense of. No one pressured me or debated me. And I left thinking “that was actually helpful for my life.”
So here I am inviting you to a small group. It may be your first or it may be your fifth. I know what is going on in your head. I know the fears, the uncertainties, the not wanting to put yourself out there, the not wanting to commit to one more thing. But I also know the love, support, friendship, care, and growth that will take place in your life. And I know it’s worth it.
Following Jesus is so much better together.
Want to find out more about getting involved in a small group?
Come to Small Group Preview on Sunday, January 8, Wednesday, January 11, or Sunday, January 15. This info session explains the ins and outs of small groups at The Crossing (and is the first step to joining a group!).