So Much More Than a Group

Almost nine years ago my wife (Renee) and I (Jonathan) stepped into leading a community group at Grace. At the time, I doubt we even considered how this would drastically affect our lives. I mean being a part of a group shouldn’t take more than a couple hours a week on average, right? In some cases, that may have been accurate but in most it’s been so much moreĀ than that. There’s many stories we could tell but I’ll briefly focus two major ones that have had memorable impacts.

First, our group proved to be more of a community than we ever thought it could be. As we started our group, we quickly found we had a group of people who knew each other already but were bonding more and more as the weeks went on. Soon after, a group of ladies joined the group together and from there we rapidly developed a strong core group. For the next few years that core group held strong, so strong in fact that a couple hours a week quickly turned into more. Weekly group meetings and game nights, occasional weekend events and Sunday lunch after church, we’d do it all together. In time, multiple couples from our group would marry one another and we’d all be there to celebrate with them. We had never imagined that being in a group could have this level of impact on our lives. We had understood it as a meeting but in the end it was every bit a community of friends.

Second, I’d realize just how powerful prayer can be within my own life. Prior to starting our group, I rarely ever just prayed for someone outside of close family before. That is, not because they have a specific need, not because they asked, just genuinely praying for them and their well-being. It initially felt foreign to me and I’ll be honest, I was mostly just going through the motions. I don’t think I’ll forget the feeling when one day it changed and these prayers reached something deeper in me. There was a compassion for the people in our group that wasn’t there before. I like to think prayer was working as much (and maybe more) on me than the people I was praying for. I’ve got a lot of growing to do in prayer, I don’t feel I spend enough time there but I can’t deny how deeply praying for our group has affected me.

Ultimately, our group has been through a lot of ups and downs. And as a group of twenty-somethings there’s a lot of life changes and careers often lead people far away. Transitions are tough but for us there’s always been a core set of people in our group to help us through it. Life is similar and community groups help get us through the rough times and celebrate through the good. Groups can be a life-changing experience when we’re willing, a challenging one but worth every moment of it. We’re incredibly thankful for the people in our group over the years and GFC’s role in supporting and building up our groups. We thank God for how He’s used our community group to draw us closer to Him.

Jonathan and Renee Parsons

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