The guys in my small group will never forget that night. The night I am referring to was one of our many guys’ night out at the cabin by the lake. But this night was special. It wasn’t the s’mores, the hotdogs, or the fellowship — it was something God had planned for us.
About halfway into the evening, we noticed someone new to our group walking up. Even though we’d invited him to the campout during our Wednesday night Small Group meeting, he really didn’t want to come. But his wife pressured him into coming.
As he sat down, we continued our conversations and started talking loosely about what we considered the worst sins. Of course, this conversation wasn’t pleasing to the Lord, but boy did He use it. One of us said, infidelity. There were some nods and disagreements, then the new guy chimed in. To our shame, he informed us that he’d just moved to town with his new wife and that he’d previously had an affair. They moved to Birmingham to find a safe place where the Lord could heal them privately and restore their marriage. Our sinful conversation brought about his cry for help to the group. Just as Joseph told his brothers who sold him into slavery, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” (Genesis 50:20, paraphrased.)
This single confession radically changed our group as we rallied around this couple and had the joy of walking with them through healing and restoration.
Is this the norm for our group or any small group? No, in fact, it’s really just one of the most powerful examples of God’s mercy since we’ve been a part of the group over the last 10 years. Just like in Scripture, where we read about God’s miracles, we tend to forget that many of the big ones happened over the course of thousands of years. Much of what the Bible shows us is how to live the everyday, ordinary Christian life. Small Group is where the radical collides with the ordinary — where God’s everyday means of grace occurs whether they are big mercies or little mercies.
I cannot overemphasize how important being involved in a small group is to my spiritual and personal life. Our small group is a family. In my opinion, Small Group is where the rubber meets the road and where the Christian life was meant to be lived out as an extension of our larger family, the Church. Our small group truly lives our lives together. I love each of the members of my group in a way that I love my own family because that is who they truly are.
My specific small group is comprised of young married couples with kids. We meet on campus together on Wednesday nights and have the opportunity to pray for each other as we study and discuss God’s Word together. God provides so many “little mercies” each week as we confess our sin struggles and joyfully remind each other of God’s loving promise of forgiveness in Him. This is such an important piece of the nurture component of the Church. It’s also where we help identify the enemy’s lies and help each other tear down strongholds so we can walk in freedom.
Outside of Wednesday nights, we love to spend time with each other. Our men meet for breakfast weekly and our ladies get together monthly. We take any opportunity to celebrate and sometimes get together simply for the sake of celebrating our love for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Seriously, we cook a lot of food, invite the neighbors over, and bring all of our kids — which is like a little zoo sometimes, but it’s a blast!
Our group has also had many opportunities to serve the church and the world. In the past, we’ve had the opportunity to do prison ministry, apartment evangelism, serve in the nursery, and serve a variety of other ways. Let me tell you, some of the things that I’m kind of scared of doing (i.e. evangelism) are not so scary when you are doing them alongside your brothers or sisters in Christ.
The last thing I will say is this: As a small group leader, I’ve learned that people are just as messed up as me, and I don’t have to be afraid of my sin or my mistakes. I’m deeply loved by God, and my brothers and sisters remind me of that weekly. The Church was never meant to be a museum of holy rollers, but a hospital for broken people fighting an enemy bent on our destruction.
If you are not part of a small group, please hear the cry of my heart and join one. You are missing out on family, joy, and so much of what God has for you! I don’t tell you that because I want you to feel bad or guilty, but because I love you as a member of our church family and want you to experience the joy that God has brought to my life through our small group.
Eric Collins and his wife, Jessica, have been members at Brook Hills for nine years and are beginning their third year leading a small group. They have three children: Eric III (6), Hannah Helen (4), and Caleb (1).
Find out more about Small Groups.