How to Get the Most Out of your Community Group
It has been a great blessing over the last few weeks to see the increase in interest and involvement in our Covenant Community Groups. Perhaps now would be a good time for us as a congregation to pause and consider how we might get the most out of these groups.
It’s hard to gain much from a community group or to build community if you are not present when the group meets. So, the first thing that one must do to gain from the group is to be there. While there will sometimes be things that providentially hinder your attendance- sickness, travel, family needs, etc., that should be the exception, not the rule. Community is built over time. Relationships grow as they are consistently nurtured. Taking the time to be consistent in a group will allow deep relationships to develop and grow. Be present.
Prayer is a greatly underrated source of Christian growth and development. Prayer is commanded in Scripture, and we are given examples and instruction on how to pray (Mt. 6:5-15, Lk. 11:1-13). Yet many Christians are still uncomfortable doing it, especially aloud. However, if we are to be knit together, functioning as diverse yet interdependent members of the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:4-5), we must pray for one another (James 5:16). I mention praying aloud because I know that many are uncomfortable doing that. This type of praying is not required by Scripture, and my wish is not to condemn those that are uncomfortable with it, but perhaps to challenge us. I hope everyone reading this has had the privilege of hearing someone pray for them. It can be, and typically is, humbling. But it is also a source of great blessing! Knowing that someone else is taking the time and thought to articulate your needs to our Heavenly Father on your behalf can be very encouraging. Consider how you might bless other members of your community group in this way.
Although praying aloud is more likely to happen in the context of the meeting of the community group, many more opportunities exist outside of the group to pray. You will find yourself growing in your love and appreciation for your fellow group members as you pray for their requests over the days between the meetings. If you, like most of us, struggle to remember details of requests, write them down. Keep a running list in a note on your phone or use a prayer app to help you remember. God created us to live in community, and prayer is a glue that helps hold that community together and make it strong. Be prayerful.
To gain the most from your community group, it is important to live purposefully. Before I became a pastor, I was guilty at times of just showing up at a small group meeting without having taken the time to prepare, to read or study the lesson, or think about how to encourage those around me. But I was missing out! Much more can be gained from any study if you prepare. If the group is reading a book, read it! If they are watching a video series, look at the recommended resources that typically accompany such a study and delve into one or two of them.
We also gain great benefit from being purposeful in getting to know the other members of the group. Try to know at least the basics about everyone in your group. And did I mention that we should pray for them? Our community group should be the core group of people that we lean on in times of trouble. Try to learn more about each other, so that you can lean on them, and allow them to lean on you, in times of need. Care. On purpose! Many years ago, I was part of a men’s prayer group, and I had a pressing financial need that was looming. I had just a couple of days to pay my electric bill before they shut off my power. I was humbled to hear other men pray for me in that meeting. One of the men had asked me exactly what the amount of the need was. After the meeting, that man walked up to me and handed me a wad of cash that was exactly what I needed to pay that bill! Being purposeful doesn’t mean handing out wads of cash to your fellow community group members, but it does mean caring enough that you are willing to pray, and maybe even go out of your way to offer tangible help when it’s needed.
Finally, being purposeful in your community group can and should mean seeking to draw others into the life of your group. That might mean including an individual or couple that struggles to connect. And it should mean inviting new people into the group. If there is a new family that has been to worship a few times, they are prime candidates for receiving an invitation to your group. The purpose of the Covenant Community Groups is to help us to grow into mature disciples by knowing, loving, praying for, and encouraging one another. May we be purposeful in helping that to happen through our study and in our interactions. Be purposeful.
I look forward to a great year of building community and seeing disciples grow at Christ Church Katy through our Covenant Community Groups.