“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Perhaps you are familiar with this iconic phrase from Charles Dickens’ historical novel A Tale of Two Cities? I’ve been thinking recently that a slight modification to this phrase would be an accurate description of my experience in Community Groups. Here’s my modified phrase: “It was the best of times IN the worst of times”.
What Are the Key Markers of a Community Group?
Let me explain. We all at some level, either subconsciously or perhaps consciously, rate or grade our experiences. When we go to a restaurant, we are looking for certain key markers. Was the service on point? Was the food delicious? How long did I have to wait for a seat? We do this in almost every avenue of life. Or, at least, I do. Well, I’ve been reflecting recently on my experience in Community Groups and have come away with a massive takeaway: the times that have been the “best of times” (you know, the greatest times of growth for my group, the times that have shaped me personally, and the times that have bonded us together as a group) have actually been simultaneously good while being extremely difficult.
I think the reason these times can be so good while being so difficult is that difficult times force me to do 3 things:
- Difficult times force me to be reminded of my reliance upon God (which should be my normal mindset).
- Difficult times force me to be receptive to God’s work in my heart.
- Difficult times cause me to reflect on and rejoice in God’s goodness.
Yes, Community Is Messy
For many it is the messiness of friendships and relationships that keeps them isolated. They think to themselves that their lives are already chaotic enough as is. They couldn’t possibly be entangled in the issues of other people as well. But it is in the messiness and the struggle that we are formed and shaped into steadfast followers of Jesus Christ.
Look at the words of James 1:2-4:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
So what am I driving at here? Here’s my point. If fear of the unknown or fear of the messiness of transparent relationships has kept you from becoming a part of a life-giving Community Group, then step out in faith to the unknown and to the mess. The risk is worth it, and God is so gracious even in the times of struggle! He will grow you in ways that you could not have imagined.
What Should You Do?
The action step to connect to a group here at Mercy Hill is simple. We launch new groups through an event called Grouplink. The next Grouplink event is Friday, September 30th at 6:30pm and we still have space available in several of the brand new groups we are launching through Grouplink. Head over to the Grouplink page and take a look!
-Randy Titus (Campus Pastor/Community Groups Director)