Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Authentic Community

Our family has been so blessed to spend the past 2 years living, sharing, and dreaming with this crew:

Our small group (which doesn't look very small when all the kids are around too!!) is made up of these families. We meet every Monday night, rain or shine, babies or no babies, long work day or rough kid talk, pray, encourage, laugh and cry with each other.

Our church passionately believes that life is done best in circles not in rows. That if you attend church, you will likely get fed from the sermon and worship experience, but in order to truly experience God's church (which is made up of YOU the people!) you must live life in community with other believers.

Mark and I both led small groups of middle schoolers separately when we were in college. It was something we were both passionate about and we loved pouring into the lives of young believers. After we got married, we continued to be very involved in our churches but never joined a small group for married couples. About 4 1/2 years ago we committed to join a small group of other married couples. It was an amazing experience and we both agreed we always want small group to be a part of our life.

What's so great about living in community anyway? Well I'm so glad you asked.

The Encouragement. It's so nice to know that every Monday I'm going to be poured into, or be pouring into someone else. No matter what my day or week looked like, I'm reminded that there is purpose beyond the four walls of my home, there is a God who loves His people, and there are other families just like ours striving to be the best they can be for His glory.

The Accountability. This group has challenged me to be a better daughter of Christ, a better mom, a better wife, and a better friend. While I can easily let my guard down and be myself (as messy and ugly as that self is sometimes) I also know that these people are going to hold me to a higher standard. That if I say I'm going to do something, they will ask me if I actually did it.

This group reminds me that life is about more than just me. We serve each other and our community. Service is an area I want to continue to grow in and this group has definitely helped me do that.

The Authenticity. I know there are groups that aren't real, aren't vulnerable, and aren't authentic. Our group is none of those. We are surrounded by a fake world that is more concerned with appearance than the heart. Our small group is a safe place we can be open, honest, fully vulnerable, and fully receive grace and encouragement instead of condemnation. We are all first soaked in sin and then soaked in His grace.

I wish all of my friendships were this genuine and open. It seems like more and more the people I encounter are putting on a front. Yes, their children may be well behaved but their hearts are rotting inside. Yes, that mom is wearing cute clothes and a big smile but she secretly longs for a life away from her husband and kids.

Our small group loves us for who we are. Just as Christ loves us for who we are.

The kids. There are 13 kids in our small group of 5 families. The kids way outnumber the adults and I'm glad they do. Most of the people our children will encounter at school, at ballet, and soccer practice, or wherever, probably aren't believers. And even if they are, they may not be the type of believer you are striving to be and praying for your children to be. It's so nice to know that when my kids are around the families in our small group, I can trust that they want the same things for their kids that we want for ours. To know Jesus and love Him fully. That striving to be the best student or athlete isn't as important as understanding their need for grace and a Savior.

I know that these parents love my kids, and I love theirs in return. We parent together and learn together while our kids play together.

Sadly.....the 2 years have ended with our small group. It's time to split and multiply and create new groups. I am sad to not see these beautiful people every Monday night. But I am so thankful that we have made life long friendships, and have been impacted forever.

I'm excited to start our next group, albeit a little anxious and nervous....but the Lord knit this group together and I know He has a purpose and a reason for our next group as well.

If you aren't in a small group of believers, I encourage you to GET IN ONE.

Thanks to all my you guys with all my heart.


kim said...

I love you, Janna! I'll miss seeing you every Monday, but maybe I can start seeing you another weekday ;).

Kacy said...

this makes me so sad...and so thankful. i am so fortunate to have had the past 4 years in group with you. you guys are going to be great leaders!