We moved to Birmingham in 2013 as we began a new phase of our lives and quickly landed at Brook Hills as our church home. Though the Lord provided biblical community through different avenues in town, we felt disconnected from our local church. We could easily walk into church on Sunday, excited for scripture-based worship and faithful, biblical teaching, and yet feel disconnected from the church body.
Several years after being at Brook Hills with no significant change in our involvement, being known by the church or knowing others, we wanted more. We understood the nature of being a part of a larger church meant that "life-on-life" community was not realistic with Sunday mornings alone. We’d heard church leadership say over and over again that small groups were, in many ways, the functional unit of the church: where discipleship, relationships, and community took place. So to give Brook Hills a fair chance at being a place to do life together, we needed to try out this small group thing.
We certainly had hesitations, such as how to handle late bedtimes with small kids on small group nights, among others. But ultimately, we decided to submit to church leadership and look for a small group. The process of getting involved might look different for other families, but we began by thinking through things we wanted to prioritize in order to make this happen: location, day, lifestage, etc. From there, we used the small group finder tool on the website and visited the small group team at the kiosk in the lobby. We discovered the options available were vast and diverse in their types. After checking out a couple groups that all seemed great, we committed to one and that's where we've been for the last three years.
So, you may be wondering: do we feel more connected to Brook Hills now than we did back then? Yes! In a church with as many facets, ministries, people, and serving opportunities, there are still many areas we don't know or aren't involved with. But we are thankful to have people with which we study the Bible, discuss sermons, and navigate marriage, parenting, ministry, serving, and so on. Let’s be clear, this does not come in a packaged bow where everything is clean-cut. It’s a big conglomeration of the above, and one that is still in process.
One of our hesitations about joining a small group was the mystery of what happens in a Brook Hills small group. We don't have all the details of the mystery to share. Small group is a place where Christ's name is lifted high, true stories are shared, people make mistakes and are given grace, and God's Word is opened and life happens. There might be meals shared, but maybe not, ladies’ nights out, men's breakfasts, or group serving projects. Each group is unique and has slightly different ways of doing things, so to find out some of the mystery you just have to check one out. And because of the way we do it here at BH, if it just doesn't quite work for you, there’s grace for that and you can visit a different group.
This year will begin our fourth year with our small group. Our group multiplied this summer, and we have taken the small group leader role with those of us that will be staying on campus. Small group life is far from perfect, but we are grateful for the people who are in it with us. We are continuing to feel more like Brook Hills is a home and not just a church full of strangers.
And, if you are considering checking out a small group, you are welcome to visit ours! We meet Wednesday nights on campus, and yes, childcare is taken care of!
Thomas and Alicia Tyner have been members of Brook Hills since 2013. They have two children, Aida (3) and Teddy (1).