I had coffee the other day with a person who shared the pain of deep loss and separation in their life. Their story went something like this, “I am new to the area and all my friends are miles away from here. I have tried to connect at work and found that I had much less in common with them than I thought I did. I go home alone, and feel the weight and emptiness of disconnection. I am not sure what to do to find community… the loneliness is killing me.” This is a story I can recite from memory. It is incredibly common and the look of pain and isolation on the faces of these dear people is apparent and begs for relief. Perhaps it seems obvious, but when you’re in pain it’s hard to see that the answer is getting with people, specifically the people of God.
It’s one thing… a good thing to sit in the sanctuary with the crowds of people God has sent and then talk for a few minutes in the lobby at your church. But when we connect with intentionality in small groups, God does some wonderful things through that connection. We find that we really aren’t as alone as the enemy wants us to believe… others have been in similar situations, and we can share that with them. The responsibility of “going it alone” seems like an obsolete idea when we find and embrace community.
Small groups are nothing new. The early church learned to thrive within their small groups and the Kingdom of God went forward because they loved with deliberate attention to community. Paul taught the Christians in the church at Galatia the principle that is the basis of connecting in small groups. He wrote, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) There is something powerful and comforting about telling someone the burden you bear. The reality is that when you share the load, it gets lighter and that brings comfort. And the spiritual component is that we obey God’s word and trust Him to do what we cannot.
Small groups aren’t new, but you may be new to groups. The idea of a small group could be intimidating and make you shy away for whatever reason. But it is a biblical model of “togetherness” and assures that when you need support, someone will be there for you. Small groups are made up of people like you… normal people who love Jesus and want to get closer to Him. They have their challenges like everyone else, but they all know that together they can take their problems to Jesus and find the answer. Inside a small group setting, you’ll make some valuable friendships that may last the rest of your life. Trust is built, confidence gained, lessons are learned, iron sharpens iron, and Jesus grows us up in the context of a small group. That’s what you might expect when you get connected to a wonderful small group. It won’t be perfect, since people aren’t perfect. But it is the place you will find real people living a real life in community. Small groups is the cure for “alone”.