I had a transformative moment on Sunday. I didn’t just go to church, take a donut (so divine), and go home. Nope. I did what I’d been meaning to slash dreading for awhile. I JOINED a church group.
YES! I gave up part of my precious Sunday to sit around a circle with strangers. People I’ve never met before in my life, to talk about faith. Quite frankly it was the best hour I’ve spent all week, with perhaps the exception of Cheer on Netflix. Why? Read on.
1. It Gets You Out of Your Head
So many spiritual questions we keep locked away. We think about them when our sister gets sick, or when something at work goes awry.
“What God would do this?”
“I’m scared, and no one can help me.”
Do you think you are the only one thinking these thoughts? Ah, no. And guess what, that realization is worth a bucketload of therapy. We don’t have it figured out, guys. None of us do, and that’s kind of, comforting? It is for me. As I sat in the group and we shared our journeys of faith, it struck me that every one of us felt how the other person did at some point in our lives. Faith binds us in community. and if it binds us in our failures, think of what it could do for our strengths? Put simply, being in a group setting forces us away from our own pain and throws us into supporting others. We put our problems aside and find ourselves rallying a member of the group who is experiencing a crisis of faith. Anytime we aren’t servicing our egos is time well spent, and it’s so rare to have them operate so effectively (meaning once a week).
2. It Deepens Your Faith
In our own lives, we have a variety of things that happen that make us pause.
“Hmm, was that just coincidence?”
I’m quick to point out the amazing transformation that God offers in my life, but sometimes I miss the big picture. By sharing our lives, others can more easily see and point out the blessings and miraculous happenings that we sometimes miss. Linking the history in our minds, we can more easily sense God’s work in our lives. From listening to the stories in my group, it was amazing to see how God was calling to them, how the Holy Spirit was alive in their decisions. The funny thing was, sometimes they didn’t see it. By calling out what you see and sharing your observations, we put pieces of the puzzle together. Faith is a strange thing. Whenever I think I’ve got it on lockdown, it scampers away. By sharing intelligence, I feel like I know my faith better. It’s almost like the process of questioning it helps it grow. No matter what your question. And what a relief!
3. It Strengthens Your Spiritual Gifts
We all have spiritual gifts that are as unique as a fingerprint. Sharing and experiencing those gifts in others is like exercising. Pretty soon, you’ll be looking tight and lean. One of my gifts is the ability to intuitively sense other’s emotions. In a small group setting, this can be overpowering, but it gives me the ability to maneuver within the group, sensing who wants to say what. I notice that the more I share this gift, the stronger the group gets, the more cohesive we feel and the more we share. I also can learn and see spiritual gifts in others, which is quite fun. It’s like a bunch of superheroes like the sitting around comparing their powers. But spiritual powers are very real, and God has gifted you a series of unique ones. Sharing that within the group and supporting one another with your gifts can only strengthen how you use them. You might even discover a part of yourself, and your gifts, that was hidden from you. By stepping out of our comfort zone and into the group setting, we understand more about ourselves.
Spiritual growth doesn’t happen when your binge-watching Cheer–would that it would! No, you can’t let the grass grow under your feet. Leave the house. Join a group, or start one of your own. Not into churches? Start a meet up group. It’s amazing what you discover when you break out of your routine and get into a thought-provoking team of people looking at life’s big questions. Have you joined a group, or have been part of one? Tell me in the comments.