As I stood outside of the front door I had second thoughts. My wife had been saying we needed to be "part of a group" for awhile and since I had recently left my 80 hour a week job, my built in excuse of "not having time" had evaporated.
I’m not exactly sure what I was scared of.
It was probably a combination of a number of things; the awkwardness of forced gatherings, the worry of not measuring up, really being known beyond the facade I had put up, the thought that everyone else there had it figured out while I was a Christian mired in habitual sin that even my wife didn’t know about.
I remember my heart beating out of my chest as we came up to the door. I mean, what was the real point of community group? My faith was a personal thing and God and I had good thing going. Christ died for my sins so I was free to live my life for me, right? Every Sunday Ginger and I would sit in the back of church and walk in and out without engaging anyone beyond a cordial hello. We’d hear some truth preached, feel conviction which would lead to guilt and then go back on living for ourselves throughout the week. This was a cycle we’d been in for a couple of years. We were both raised in the church so we knew the dance we had to do and the appearances we had to keep up, but the root of the gospel had not taken hold. We would both claim Christ, but there was no evidence of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit pouring out of us. I think deep down I knew by walking through that door and engaging other believers all that would have to change and I don’t think I was quite ready for that yet.
Everything would change.
Over the next year we began to build deep relationships with friends that we still hold close today. I realized that I wasn’t the only imperfect sinner in the group and started to grasp the gospel for the real good news that it is. I remember being floored by the grace of God and yearning to live a life in response to that grace. Not because I had to, but because I got to.
Fast forward 9 years to today and our community, our fellowship of believers, is still as important to us as ever. Since that first night of group we’ve had 3 children, seen our struggling marriage repaired, welcomed literally hundreds of people through our home, had more bbqs than I can count, spent many nights praying for each other, built lasting meaningful friendships, seen dozens of meals delivered to us, grieved the loss of two babies from miscarriage, celebrated new life in Christ with others and freedom from bondage of sin, and many other miracles from our heavenly father, all in the midst of community.
As we landed at A Seattle Church about a year and a half ago our desire to be known and know others in this community had not waned. We have truly enjoyed the fellowship and look forward to our Tuesday night gathering every week and the ability to just “be” with others. To “be” without expectation, or the feeling of having to accomplish something. To truly submit our will to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and nurture these relationships to the glory of God and our enjoyment.
My hope for our church is that everyone can experience Christ through an expression of community in one way or another.
Whether that is a regular weekly group, a monthly outdoor experience, mid-week playdates with kids or over beers while watching the game. We are called to be and make disciples of Christ. Not because we have to or that God needs us to, but because He knows the beauty of those relationships centered on Him give us a glimpse into the depth of his goodness. He is a communal God who has designed us to be most satisfied in Him while in communion with others. I know that these groups aren’t the only avenue to building community, but they can provide a fertile soil where true friendships and discipleship can grow.
In this season I'm excited to come alongside the ASC leadership and serve in any way I can to foster community in our church and city. Please let me know if I can help you get connected in any way.