I am a newer member of The Vineyard, having attended 5 months, and almost immediately loved the sermons our pastors were teaching, felt the presence of the Lord, and left with a yearning to experience endless more. When learning of the “Knowing Jesus and Making Him known” mission that the Vineyard had, I felt that I was finally at the “perfect” church. When my fiancé conveyed his comfort during services as well, it was not only a relief but confirmation that we were exactly where God was calling us to settle in.
There is great significance in the difference of being “at” the right church (as weekend warriors checking off the proverbial Sunday church attendance box on the “to-do” list of life), verses being “in” a church or a “church attendee.”
Being a newbee, coupled with my high social anxiety truly created quite the intense fear that has crippled me for years. But even more panic inducing was my imagined intimidation of other members’ spiritual growth and level of maturity in their journey with Christ!
My own perception, in regards to potential participation in a Core Group, was one flooded with thoughts of not measuring up, complete deficit in my lack of knowledge of the Bible, and incomplete in regards to significant contribution to other more seasoned believers.
Where had my courage run off to and why all the overwhelming emotions of insecurity? I found myself, flawed yet forgiven, faced with this formative decision ahead. I prayed for the Holy Spirits assistance and found myself on the website the following morning saying “YES” to the still small voice.
Small/ Core groups serve several purposes. Community normally happens, or begins, in small groups of some sort, including Core Groups that meet in our homes. However it is organized and participated in, believers intentionally put other things aside in order to be together, because life change happens via relationship.
It’s time we MOVE PEOPLE FROM SITTING IN ROWS TO SITTING IN CIRCLES.
Small groups can become agents of both individual and community change when they are organized around, bathed in, and focused on living out the gospel together. When we are honest, open, and vulnerable with one another, there is opportunity to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) and spur one another on to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).
When we preach the gospel to one another in close-knit community, there is spiritual growth that changes us individually and as a whole. We begin to position ourselves with an outward focus and encourage gospel transformation in the communities outside the church walls.
As much as I love gathering with the whole of the church for worship, there is something powerfully unique about an intimate gathering around a living room that forces us to think differently than when we are during our time of preaching. Small groups, in fact, are where much of the theology taught in our pulpits begins to be fleshed out in conversation and action.
In my own experience i have found that firstly, my group has been established as a safe space, a place where the weary can come and be refreshed, the weak can be made strong, and the doubtful can walk away hopeful.
Secondly, we Keep each other accountable. Small groups welcome deep discussions. We spend a portion sharing prayer requests and praying as a whole for anyone in need. Our group discussion always points us to God’s Word.
Small group participation spurs and encourage members to take their Christian journey even a step deeper… enabling access to Vineyard’s individual ministry teams and help bridge the gap that involvement in the ministries creates. This helped me feel instantly connected on a personal basis, part of the inner workings of our church and truly comfortable and at home in our church family.
Its time to set some goals, cast some vision, and work towards a greater participation in group life—move people from sitting in rows to sitting in circles to see better life transformation. My yearning to feel part-of, for the sense of family, and the fellowship that groups foster was surely calling my name long ago.
I felt the ever so gentle tug God had upon my heart to begin serving others, resulting in bravely seeking a Connect Card after a period of reflection and prayer (Connect Cards are a great way to stay in communication w/ our church). I’m now a part of the Hospitality team also, as I have a heart for welcoming others and making everyone feel at home as a greeter. I’ve never experienced such natural ease in my ability to be sincere, genuine, and fully transparent. I finally can be myself, created perfectly in Christ’s image.
Thanks for reading this. What are your thoughts?