Out of the 31 years of my existence on this planet I have officially been involved in churches and Christian doings for... *drumroll please*... 31 years. So I have had a lot of opportunity to experience the phenomenon of Home Groups. Errr... Cell Groups... uhmmm... Small Groups.... uuhhhh... Bible Studies... I mean Life Groups. Yeah, those. The things that actually look like the Early Church looked 2,000 years ago. Only the early church didn't bother with the formal church service at all unless ol' Paul was in town.
Anyway, we Christians tend to still gather in each other's houses once a week and hang out. Yep, 2,000 years later we're still doing it. Conveniently here in America we don't have to darken our windows and draw secret fish symbols on our gateposts to announce our locations. In China they aren't so lucky.
When we joined our new-to-us church we decided to find a nice, calm, family-oriented small group. (Did I just use calm and family in the same sentence? What was I thinking?) We looked through the list and picked one based not upon the group dynamic, the depth of discussion, the quality of childcare... nope, we picked based on... the fact that it was on Sunday night.
This story is getting long. To make it shorter suffice it to say we have hit pay dirt here. We ended up in the most wonderful small group I could imagine. I was initially skeptical of the name. It's called "Let-us Fellowship." Hehe, get it? Punny, right? Let-us? Like Lettuce? Like... oh forget it. I don't do puns. I do irony. And I find it ironic that I attend a small group with the name "Let-Us Fellowship".
Our small group (making a long story short again here) meets at our house. We used to meet at the associate pastor's house but the group was just so dang cool it kept growing and pretty soon we were going to have to get together and call ourselves a semi-big-spilling-out-of-our-associate-pastor's-house group. We were no longer small. And our poor babysitter had to deal with 18 kids or so. The group divided and our half is now meeting at our house.
We love this. We just sit back and let them come. Put out a few paper plates and call it good. No, I jest. We tidy up a little. So tonight we just finished a small group meeting and I am so full of extrovert-love I could sing. We have a pot-luck dinner every week and tonight was a feast. We had everything from gourmet Thai chicken to Dominoes Pizza. For the discussion we've been watching The Truth Project.
To me, the thing that makes this group special is the dynamic within the group. We mostly have young children and are in similar stages of life. Still, I've been in group of peers my whole life and have not found such good friends and such an atmosphere of mutual growth and respect as I have found in this group. There is something special in this bunch'a folks.
It's interesting to observe my husband and children in the aftermath of three hours of having four additional families in our house. Downstairs a total of ten children and two teenaged babysitters play with our toy trains, mini-tent, stuffed animals and play kitchen as hard as they can. Upstairs the adults eat and talk and eat and help with kids and eat some more. By the quiet end of it, Hubby and Little Mister, our resident introverts, seem ready to find a knothole and go crawl into it. Mister is usually exhausted and falling apart. Curly Miss is more like me. Her people-meter is happily full and she runs around chattering and laughing at us and finding mischief to make.
Over the course of this past year, our small group has become a second family. We started out meeting once a week but have progressed to watching one another's kids, calling each other, meeting for lunches and going for playdates at the park. The men talk about their jobs and about life while the women, all stay-at-home-moms, talk about kids and about life. We all share our hopes and dreams. We pray for one another all week long. We email theological questions to one another. There is no official leader of the group. We decide the discussion topic or video series by consensus. No one pushes an agenda. I find that refreshing.
The concept of a small group is not a new one in my life. Yet I feel somehow as if I have discovered something unique. I love our small group.