Meeting in a group has never been the easiest thing to do. Let’s face it: we want good friends, but discovering and deepening those relationships takes work! Busy schedules, a bad group experience in the past, current group members who are flaky and inconsistent can all make community challenging.
If it wasn’t difficult enough already, meeting with others just got harder. I’m writing this from my bedroom, which I’ve barely left over the last few days. I want to do my part and love my neighbors, friends, and coworkers well, particularly those who are at high risk. But, as I practice social distancing, I’m finding myself lapsing into isolation. Sure, I know there are avenues to connect with others through video chats, social media, and texting. But it seems like a lot of work right now, and I’m not sure if I have the energy.
Perhaps you are feeling a similar way. I feel your pain. But I also think we need to fight for community right now, even when we run into obstacles. Meeting in a group isn’t simply a nice thing to do. It’s absolutely essential. And this season actually provides your group with some unique opportunities that you don’t want to miss. It could revolutionize your group experience.
Opportunity #1: Team Tackle Fear Together
There’s a fascinating story in Acts 10, where King Herod is violently persecuting the church. He executed James and then, when he saw that pleased the masses, Herod arrested Peter. It must have been an especially stressful and fearful time for any believer in Jerusalem.
God winds up miraculously rescuing Peter out of prison. As soon as Peter escapes, we read, “[Peter] went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many had assembled and were praying.” —Acts 12:12
In their fear and distress, the church made sure to meet. Why? Because they needed each other more than ever—to make sure they had a good perspective, to point each other to God and His faithfulness, and to comfort one another.
On my own, I tend to drift into a bad perspective. I start to blow fears out of proportion, make irrational decisions, and get distressed easily. I think this is why the writer of Hebrews emphasized the necessity of community in this way:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” —Hebrews 10:24-25
This writer knew that, as believers were facing trials and challenges, it would be easy to give up and not meet. But he or she also knew community was essential. It would help the church stay hopeful, have a good perspective, and continue to love.
Together, we have the opportunity to team tackle fear together. Your group needs you…and you need your group. No, we shouldn’t meet physically in a house together. But we can meet digitally, and when we do, we can give each other a fresh dose of sanity and helpful perspective.
Opportunity #2: Share the Love (aka Toilet Paper!)
It’s nice to say we need to love others. But, in seasons of crisis, love gets a lot more specific. Who would have thought sending someone a roll of toilet paper would be one of the most loving things you could do? But right now, it is.
Great groups are not primarily about good discussions or studying helpful content. That’s important, of course, but it’s not the main thing. Great groups love each other well. They check in. They show up. That’s the difference between an okay group and an exceptional one.
Your group has a unique opportunity to love each other well in some really tangible and specific ways. “Little” things like sending an encouraging text, giving a gift card to a family facing financial difficulty, or checking on someone’s elderly relative are huge ways to say, “I love you.” Don’t miss out on doing that right now.
Opportunity #3: Inspire Ingenuity
I often hear from groups who feel like they’ve lost a little steam. Many times, this happens as a result of falling into a routine, doing the same things over and over again.
Nothing breeds inventiveness like crisis. Most of us won’t change unless we have no choice. Well, right now, it’s time to get creative. Think of this as a chance for an injection of freshness into your friendships.
This will probably mean trying things and using tools you’re not comfortable with initially. Never tried Zoom video conferencing or Google Hangouts before? There’s no time like the present to try! I’m betting there was a time email, texting, and Facebook felt weird to you, too. Now, it’s hard to see life without them. As a side note: if you need help using some of these tools, go to our Groups Page. We have some great resources to help you get started.
While challenging to meet right now, this season could be the catalyst your group needs to get to the next level together. And together, you can help one another think of new solutions to challenges you all are facing. Parents can share new ideas to engage kids at home. Friends can share strategies with each other on how to organize the day for effectiveness. The best ideas come from collaboration.
Opportunity #4: Make a Memorable Impact
Finally, this is a opportunity for you and your group to make a monumental impact in your community. We all want to make a difference, but the issues our world is facing can feel so daunting and overwhelming. But when we’re in a group, it can be a lot easier to mobilize.
Perhaps it’s as simple as getting a list of neighbors and relatives who need food and assistance, and then, organizing who can assemble supplies and who can drive them out to where they’re needed. Whatever it is, if your group is able to inspire each other to be externally-focused and “here for good” neighbors, you’ll remember it for years to come.
So, please don’t give up meeting together, even though it might be more challenging right now. We need each other more than ever.
If you are not currently in a group, we are organizing a bunch of online groups that will meet over the next month for our Stronger sermon series. We have two time slots you can pick from: Wednesdays, 7:30-8:30 PM, or Thursdays 8:30-9:30 PM. Go to our Groups Page, fill out a quick form, and in no time, in the comfort (or confines!) of your home and after the kids go to bed, we’ll help you connect with a few Chase Oakers.