A few months ago, I posted my Facebook status as, “Life group at the beach!” I got a couple of comments like, “Well I don’t know what a life group is, but if it’s the opposite of death, I’m all for it!” I think “life group” is a pretty common term for a small church group nowadays, but it’s true that it might sound kind of funny if you’re not a church-goer yourself. I belong to a life group…one that has majorly transformed over this past year, and I’d like to share just part of that experience here.
When I moved back to Orange County in December of last year, I decided to continue attending the church I did when I lived here the time before–Mariner’s Church. It’s a huge church and none of my friends went there anymore, but Kenton (the lead pastor) is great, and the church does a lot of amazing things. I wanted to be at least a little bit involved in a small group.
So I went onto the website and looked under small groups. The link directed me to sign up for something called “Rooted.” Okay, that’s great, I thought. But it costs money, and it’s a study. What if I just want a regular small group? I kept looking, but everything I pressed led me back to this Rooted page. So that was that. I signed up for Rooted.
Rooted was not what I expected. It was a vigorous 11 week study that provided homework each night and various other committments. They told us at the beginning that about 10% of who came on the first night would not come back to the second night. This was something we couldn’t be flaky about, but that we would get a lot out of it in turn.
And we did. My group instantly clicked. We were all around the same age and in similar places in life. None of us knew too many people at church, so we were grateful to now have people to sit with on Sunday mornings. In the midst of our study, we were able to go deep with each other, and it was all confidential. We were also able to learn about ourselves, more about God, and how to live our life with Him in the center of it. We wrestled with difficult questions and didn’t always have the answers. But we grew.
After the 11 weeks of the study, many of us within the group decided to keep meeting, and that’s when we became a life group. We met at someone’s house and usually someone brought food and drinks. We had such a good time socializing that we usually didn’t end up starting until about 45 minutes after we intended. But we had great discussions, built our relationships with God, and tried our best to serve others together.
Then slowly but surely, our life group started getting smaller. The first to move away got transferred to Taiwan by her job. The second was transferred to New York City. Then one moved to Colorado, and another landed a job that kept him from attending on Tuesday nights. And so we ended up with four. I was disappointed because I really liked our little group. We were, at that point, pretty comfortable with each other and…then what?
We decided to find out if there were any other people at church who would like to be a part of our group. What ended up happening was that we and two other diminishing groups merged together to form one large group. And I’m going to be honest, this scared me. I was hesistant about being a part of a group so large. It’s not easy to share things with 20 other people at a time. It also takes longer to get to know them. Plus in this situation, the groups that were merging already knew each other pretty well. We would have to make sure not to only stick with the people we already knew. But I gave it a try.
It’s only been about one month. We have met every Monday night at either a house or at the church cafe. We’ve been studying the book of James in the Bible and have been discussing faith, doing good works, and last night, the power of our tongues and the things we say. We’ve had some amazing, thought provoking discussions and gone off on tangents about things like giving to the homeless. For this I am grateful, but also I am getting to know some wonderful people, and continuing to experience God through the people I already knew. These people aren’t perfect. We all have our struggles, we don’t do everything right, and we don’t all have the answers. But we’re doing LIFE together. And that, my friends is what life group is all about.