Finding Community: Our Grace Groups Experience

Blake and I were a few weeks shy of our wedding when we signed up to join a connecting group in September 2015. We had been faithfully attending GFC for a while, saying our obligatory hellos, and quietly sitting in our same seats each week. However, we wanted to plant real roots and find community within GFC at the beginning of our marriage.

For us, it was important to find a group open to singles, marrieds, and mixed ages if possible. We had both been on the single side of group searching before and knew that can be a difficult hurdle. Looking back now, we should have been much more relaxed with our “requirements,” but nonetheless, we had them. When GFC started advertising connecting groups, it seemed like a perfect fit. Short-term, open, and no commitment. What could go so wrong in 6 weeks? We signed up and attended faithfully, including the week of our wedding.

We loved our Connecting Group, but the sweetest part of it is what followed after. It’s tough to get to know each other deeply in something short term, and it’s understandable to be hesitant to open up when you are strangers, so after our group ended, we would often say that we hoped someone “qualified” would turn it into a more permanent community group. But that wasn’t us – we would be willing to do that “later.”

Thank goodness Chad, our now good friend, wasn’t quite so oblivious and stepped up to start a Community Group from our Connecting Group. We immediately signed up and even told him we’d bring food over for the first week. As long as someone else was doing it, we were all in.

After two weeks at Chad’s, we learned he had mono and would be out of commission for a while. Could someone else host and keep the group going for a week or two? We hated to lose the momentum we had just started so we offered to host the space and invited someone else to “lead,”. I immediately thought of what snacks to serve and cleaning tasks to complete before everyone came over. Superficially, those were the things on my mind.

One week turned into another – five to be exact. As no one accepted our offer to sit in our “leader” chair, so we decided we could “facilitate” group discussion. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that when you provide the space and opportunity, God really does the rest. When Chad recovered, he asked if we would be interested in co-hosting and co-leading, and we easily agreed.

Here we are, approaching two years later, with the same group and we have grown so much. Serving our group in this minor way has been such an unexpected blessing. The truth is that had God not placed this opportunity on a platter for us, we would have been hesitant to find it. But we are so thankful and have gained so much through our Community Group, now some of our closest friends.

Life happens, and our group has molded into a few different forms since then. Our group has supported us, and each other, in every step along the way. This community has been such a vital part of our GFC story and our Ultimate Journey with Christ. Whether it’s joining, leading, facilitating, or even just faithfully contributing and attending, give yourself the opportunity. Don’t wait for “later,” or for someone else to step up. God may be orchestrating the richest blessings just right around the corner.

Annie Howard