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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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May 29, 2012

How My Small Group Has Been Challenging Me

I’m getting more than I bargained for—but I’m learning even that seems to be okay.

Recently God has been using my small group to stretch me. I assumed this group experience would be a lot like my past ones—with good discussion and deepening relationships—but I’m getting a lot more than I bargained for.

My husband and I joined an established group, and in five months we’ve helped birth a new group (the apprentice leader left the group to start a new group of his own), thrown a housewarming party for a previously homeless woman, and attended a baby shower for a refugee family. On top of that, several of us served together at a homeless shelter during our church-wide community service day. We got to know one another at a deeper level as we served burgers and talked with the residents.

The people in our group live missional lives. They look for opportunities to bless and serve people around them. They’re extremely generous with their possessions, time, and money. They are incredibly hospitable—not just opening their homes, but also opening their hearts. Even the leader shares authentically, sharing vulnerably about his life and struggles. My husband and I have been welcomed with open arms, and it feels good to have a place to belong. Even more, though, it feels good to have a place to make a difference.

With each experience, though, I’ve been challenged. I thought I was generous, but then I saw how generous one couple is with their possessions, and I realized how attached I get to my things. I thought I was comfortable with uncomfortable situations until I had to stand in a tiny overheated apartment with no furniture for the housewarming party. I’ll admit that part of me wondered why we hadn’t gathered somewhere with more space. And I’ve always thought I was flexible. But when the baby shower got delayed a few hours, and we had to sit and wait for it to begin, I realized how much I like schedules.

As I’ve recognized these growth-potential areas, I’ve wrestled over them with God. I’ve asked him to help me remain in the discomfort, allowing him to transform me. And I’ve seen him work. I’ve learned to take a breath, remember that presence can really minister to people, and share my feelings honestly with God. In the past I’d try to bear through an awkward situation and later talk to God about it. Now I’m learning to bring those feelings and anxieties to him in the midst of the situation, asking him to give me new perspective and allowing him to use the situation to grow me.

The best part of these learning experiences, though, is that I’m not in them alone. Instead, we’re all in them together. We all have felt discomfort at different things we’ve experienced, and we’re learning to bring those things to God and ask why it caused us discomfort. And when we debrief in our group meetings after these experiences, I’m reminded that God is growing each of us. As we grow, we have the support and encouragement of the other group members, and we have comfort in knowing we’ve experienced these things together.

I now understand in a new way why Christians are supposed to live life in community. It’s easy to say you’re generous or flexible or kind if you don’t actually interact with other people! When we gather together, we have the incredible opportunity to both encourage and exhort our Christian brothers and sisters. In community we have the opportunity to see truth and love interwoven beautifully.

Related Tags: missional, missions, small groups


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