It can be really hard to get connected in a big church; yet community is vital to moving forward on your ultimate journey with God. Being a part of a healthy, Christ-centered community gives us access to ongoing support through new friendships, spiritual encouragement when we need it most, and opportunities to stretch ourselves as we grow and serve.
That's why at GFC, our goal is to make a big church feel smaller by investing in Grace Groups. With Grace Groups, you have three points of entry into a small group - Starting Point, Connecting Groups, and Community Groups. Starting Point is a conversational 8-week small group for those returning to church after some time away or exploring faith for the first time. No question is off limits. Connecting Groups are short-term groups that meet for 6-8 weeks. They're an easy way to dip your toe in the water and see what groups are all about. Community Groups are a more long-term investment, as you come together week in and week out to grow spiritually and do life alongside others.
Matthew and Abby tried a Connecting Group last fall, and the group loved the experience so much that they've decided to stay together as a Community Group. What did they like so much about it? Why did it work when some small groups don't? Check out our Q&A with them below.
What attracted you to participate in a Connecting Group?
We each had different experiences with small groups. Matthew had gone a few times when he was younger but never felt a real pull towards that kind of study. I was involved in small groups throughout college and realized that I grew the most in this type of setting. It is really easy to hide in a big church. You can walk into the Sunday service, say the obligatory “hellos” to a few neighbors, sit quietly through the message and be on your way without any meaningful human interactions. To us, a 6 week small group sounded like a good way to ease into the church community. If we liked it, we could (and did) form a Community Group with the members of our Connecting Group and if not, it would be over in 6 weeks.
What were your thoughts going into the group? Nervous? Comfortable? Excited? Why?
I was a little of all 3! My previous experience with small groups made me somewhat comfortable with the setting. I was nervous to meet new people and my self-conscious side was worried that the group wouldn’t accept my thoughts or opinions. But I was excited to take a chance on something that could potentially grow my faith and create friendships with members of my church. Matthew felt nervous since he hadn’t been in a small group in a while. He also didn’t feel comfortable talking in a group but after sitting through a few meetings and getting to know the people in the group, it became less nerve racking to share his thoughts on the topics.
As the group progressed, what did you both experience happening in relation to the subject matter and toward the people in your group?
The content really helped us to focus on how we were living our life. I started reading my Bible regularly and it helped me bring God into my work environment in an appropriate way. Matthew felt that as the group progressed, people became more comfortable sharing their thoughts. Listening to the input of the group members was always rewarding in that they had perspectives we had never considered before. It is difficult for us to stay motivated throughout the week with one service on Sundays. This group was a great source of community and growth halfway through the week to keep us focused! We got to learn about their lives. Their triumphs, struggles, and in-betweens. How many other times in life do we get the chance to know people on such a deep level as this?
How has the content of your CG continued to impact you both since the group's end?
The content that I found most helpful was about personal disciplines in your life such as prayer, fasting, reading Scriptures, etc. I still think of some of the insights from my group members when I find myself in a spiritual rut. Matthew made a good point that it is still impacting us because our Connecting Group became a Community Group! It has been a great way to build on the friendships we created in the Connecting Group.
What would your advice be to someone thinking of joining a CG?
What’s the risk!? At the least, you will be sitting in a room with people you go to church with, listening to them sharing their thoughts about the content. And there is no limit to what can happen at the most! You could make lifelong friendships, feel a sense of community in your church, and grow closer to God. Matthew feels that you shouldn’t give up after the first meeting. Give it a try and if it isn’t for you, there is nothing wrong with that. There are other ways to get involved in the church, but we both highly recommend this! You will never know unless you put yourself out there and try. From our experience, it’s the moments when we are most uncomfortable that we grow the most.
If you're ready to try out a small group experience, you can learn more and sign up for a Connecting Group online.
Posted on Thu, January 28, 2016
by Grace Fellowship Church