I was sixteen. Walking down on the unknown roads as I was processing my registration as a freshman, someone came up to me and offered help. After guiding me to the admin’s building, we exchanged numbers, just in case. Months later, we had dinner and shared something about ourselves. After opening up about my religion, and that I am looking for a church that I can be part with in this new place, she exclaimed with gladness and invited me to her church. Not too long when I joined my first small group session, and met my first ever small group (we call Victory Group) leader.
I can still remember how this small group activity started as an awkward thing for me. You have to be open, even a little bit, about yourself. As an introvert, at first, I can hardly build the sentence with the right words, to describe the situation I am in, as short as possible. I talk with the goal to end my turn soon. I can deal with all the listening, but when it’s my time to answer a question, or share what I’ve learned, I have to make the shortest summary. I’d be very tired and uncomfortable after an hour because it can be too overwhelming for me.
Even though a lot of times that I just want to be alone, God would rebuke me to go and join the session for the week. Sometimes I see it as a weekly obligation, yet the moment I am in that group, I thank God for making my legs bring me to our small group session. Because every time I am there, my experience of God is always new and fresh. It always got me encouraged, leaving with a light heart. Every time I go back to my dorm, I always realize that small group really matters.
First, it matters because as a Christian, God made us to belong to a family of believers that would help us in our Christian walk. This is pointed out by Rick Warren in his book What On Earth Am I Here For. As he explains that we are to belong to a Christian community, that small group can be that community. As the church (I meant the body of Christ) is growing, we have to have a constant family that we can run to, and we can grow with. A family that can help build us up to become the person God planned us to be, and for us to help them as well.
As one pastor quoted in a camp I joined a few days ago, “If you want to travel fast, do it alone. But if you want to go farther, then do it with a friend or two.“
While introverts can be really at their best when they are alone, one cannot live and grow on their own, just like how it takes a village to raise a child. And we have to be part of that village, act and move as we adapt to that village’s standard because that’s what we see and what we are called to do. As part of Christ’s body, we learn how Christians should walk Christianity. God’s will is our standard, and it all takes the whole body’s cooperation and help for us to be effective in our walk with God.
Second, small group matters because it is where we can tell every burden and struggle, every sin and mistake, without being judged. God sends people to rebuke and encourage us, to confront and comfort us, to remind us with our freedom and conviction, and to share with us a testimony that we can relate into.
Being an introvert, I am so much in comfort with carrying and handling my struggles alone, and just lifting it all up to Jesus by myself. I assured myself that if I can just talk to God, and release everything only to Him, then I will be just fine without involving other people. But instead, it brought me to routine and complacency. Little did I know that sometimes, God answers our questions through the lives of other people. And other people can lift you up through prayers, too.
Third, small group matters because we will know more of God, and Him in us, and what He can and will do in our lives. We see other’s breakthroughs that encourage us to really trust God because He does miracles. Sharing of changed lives always got my heart to lift up praises to God. In this group, one will witness and experience transformation, not because of everyone’s ability, but because of the grace of God. Every life serves as an evidence on a daily basis that, indeed, He is real and He is good.
It took me enough time to adapt, and just enjoy the discussion, instead of being so cautious about what I’m going to say. Although there are times that I can be easily tired with listening and sharing, I realize that hearing people’s testimony and the opportunity to be freed from something through speaking it out and be heard, can never be replaced by any energy that I might save. The fact that we’re talking about Jesus, time is already not a thing. As a matter of fact, you’ll forget about time!
Building relationships where Jesus is centered can be the best kind of building relationships. Amidst this era, in this generation, where our everyday tea is our achievements, the places we’ve gone to, the food we’ve tasted, and the stuff we buy to go with the trend, we need a family where we are constantly being reminded about Jesus and the conviction of our faith. A Christ-centered family—a small group.
Encouraging Verses: Ephesians 4:11-12; Matthew 18:20; Ecclesiastes 4:12