In high school, I joined lots of clubs--- Spanish Honor Society, Junior Civitans.... I was in the youth group, helped the band..... all things social..... wanting a group of friends (which I got).
In college, I did the same thing---- I became a member of Baptist Campus Ministries, looked for a church with an active college ministry...... still wanting a group of friends, a place to belong. As an adult, it has become harder to find that group of friends...... I have my "old" friends (that I have known since childhood), my "work" friends that I see almost daily and even spend some time with outside of work.
I know that the best place to find a group of friends who have similar beliefs and morals is at church. However, it has been difficult to find that group. At my childhood church, that group was a Sunday School class. In my current church, it is a small group.
Core group, small group, Sunday School class..... lots of churches use different titles but ultimately these groups are meant to help Christians grow spiritually.
"Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage each other." Hebrews 10:25 (GN)
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying hte favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47
I've been attending "Growth Track" through my church.... tonight's lesson was on how to grow as a Christian..... it spoke about small groups and it made me think..... the apostles in Acts spent time together, they studied together, prayed, met each other's needs...... I want a group like that!
Tonight, I learned that small groups are supposed to provide opportunities for: Bible study, fellowship, communion, prayer, support, praise and worship, and outreach (based on the Acts verses posted above). If even one of these elements is missing in the group, then it is not fulfilling its purpose. If a small group is only interested in fellowship or having fun, then they are a social club, not a support system. If they never spend time studying the Bible, worshipping, and praying together, then they are not being effective. On the other hand, if they only spend time in Bible study and never make the time to fellowship and have fun then they can't develop true relationships either. There has to be a balance of all these things.
As a shy, quiet person in large, unfamiliar settings, it is hard to truly get to know someone. It takes time. It takes trust. It usually (for me, anyway) takes a pre-existing connection with someone in the group. Then slowly, I will come out of my shell. This contributes to why I've had a hard time finding my group. There have been very few people that I can say are my "small group" (a.k.a. support system).
This is my prayer..... God will help me to develop my relationships with other people. I pray that I can be a support for someone else..... I know that this will take time and also require me to step out of my own comforts occassionally. It may even require me to take a role of a leader rather than an observer or spectator (terrifying thought!) I have truly enjoyed the group where God has led me to...... now I must take it to the next level! I cannot be content with just meeting for church service, or in hanging out and having fun.... I must make a conscious effort to grow and help others to grow.
Lord, help me to find the right small group. Help me to overcome my own insecurities in order to be blessed and be a blessing. Help me to live out John 13:34-35, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Help me to remember that I am not called to only be part of a social club, rather I am to be a part of a support system. Help me to be a true friend. Amen.