Loving and obeying God, loving and serving one another, growing in maturity and bearing fruit can’t be done alone. Loneliness saps our faith of all creativity and flourishing. As T.S. Eliot observed, hell is “oneself . . . always alone.” Yet the church is a family (Ephesians 2:19) with a hope “laid up” for us in heaven (Colossians 1:5). If we find ourselves alone in our faith, something is off.
The stories below show how “thick” communities within the church can bring newfound joy and meaning to our lives. If this is your desire, check out our Small Groups Fair after the service on January 29. You’ll be able to meet group leaders and find the space that’s right for you (and enjoy Gunter’s Bavarian Grill for lunch).
January 14, 2016, was the day I moved out of my parents’ house and into a new, scary environment: Newsom Hall. I didn’t know anyone at CSU except one fifth-year senior who lived on the floor below me. She invited me to join her small group, which met in Newsom, and I did. If I hadn’t joined Newsom Small Group, I would’ve quickly felt disconnected from and disinterested in the church. I would’ve looked to my unbelieving friends, partying, smoking and having a boyfriend for acceptance.
Instead, I joined a group that enthusiastically accepted me and introduced me to an idea that, as a second-generation Christian, I knew little about: passion. These weirdos met nearly daily to pray and study the Bible because they wanted to. They became my first friends in the Rock and supported me as I learned how to make my faith my own. Without this small group, I would have quickly felt overlooked and unimportant in the Rock and in the church. My small group kept me connected at a deeper, more personal level. Now, a year later, I am roommates with two girls from that small group and meet regularly during the week with others. I’ve never experienced closer relationships than those I’ve formed through my small group.
The opening scene of Christopher Nolan’s film Inception couldn’t have posed the question better: Do you want to be an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?
Despite my efforts, true community has always been one dream in front of me. Be it work, church, or even a weekly Bible study, the dreary doldrums of daily life held me captive in a state of limbo and I desired more.
It was in this state last year that I was first really struck by a thought I came across in the Bible:
“The generous man will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).
Light bulbs turned on, and I caught a first glimpse of what I was searching for. I can prosper by being generous with my time and creating a culture that refreshes others—and myself, as a result.
I began my first small group with one mission, to refresh others in the hope that I might be refreshed. I took a leap of faith and made a table at the Small Groups Fair and recruited two couples by the grace of God. And with a very small number gathering in his name, we began sharing meals together weekly with our kids. We had extra breakfasts together and sought to share date nights together. We went on outings to Denver and sought to create the culture of the disciples illustrated in the book of Acts.
We’re not perfect. We don’t meet daily as the first disciples did, but we are what we are by the grace of God, and true community has never been closer.
You don’t have to start a small group to find what you’re looking for. But you can get out of limbo and wake up to a real world of true community by taking a leap of faith and seeking to refresh others in a tight-knit community at the Small Groups Fair. Remember: You reap what you sow. Let’s sow the seeds of true community together and reap a harvest of blessing. God promises refreshment. You won’t die alone.