By Robbi Russell
There’s nothing wrong with wanting friends, especially if you come to a church the size of Watermark where it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. I get that. It makes sense. So, what’s the difference between getting into a community group and having a group of friends to sit with at church and go grab dinner with on Friday nights? Well, I’d argue that there can be a big difference.
Being in biblical community is far beyond surface level conversations and an occasional Bible study where everyone goes around the circle and gives a Sunday school answer. Biblical community is where spiritual transformation can happen on a deep, intimate level. But, in order for that to happen, group members must be willing to open up deeper than "My 3rd cousin’s dog Sparky has a ringworm...can we pray for him please?" This takes courage and vulnerability that honestly doesn’t come naturally. You have to work at it.
“But, it’s scary to let people I barely know in on the intimate details of my life...my fears, insecurities, budget, sin struggles, pride, etc.” I get that. You’re right; it is scary. And it’s also life-giving and freeing at the same time. Once you get into a group that is committed to biblical community, you must develop a level of trust and work together to create a safe environment where each member of the group feels comfortable sharing openly and honestly. This takes time. It’s not an overnight thing. You can’t microwave biblical community. But, I would say if you’re just staying where it’s comfortable and not seeking and striving to go deeper, you’re in a social club and not a biblical community group.
Maybe you’re just not ready yet. That’s okay. But I would challenge you to not stay there. Seek to understand what your underlying fears are of being fully known. What are you hiding that you need to be set free from? Romans 8:1 says: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If you are a follower of Christ, you are forgiven. Period. Let others in so that you don’t continue walking in bondage and shame. The first part of James 5:16 says: “Therefore confess your sins to each another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” We’re not called to walk this road alone.
As I said earlier, you may just be wanting some friends to sit with at church. We’ve got many great opportunities for you to meet others, such as women’s Bible studies, men’s Summit groups, Equipped Disciple classes, serving in kid’s ministries, and MANY more. If deep, authentic biblical community is not where your heart is at right now, go get plugged into one of these other places and start making friends. But once you do make friends, and therefore know some people at church that you are becoming comfortable with, consider going deeper with them by starting a community group together. Or, you could come get plugged in at our next GroupLink once you are ready.
It is good to have friends, but it is even better to have a group of people who truly know and accept you, and who are actively concerned with your well-being and helping you grow. That is biblical community, and it is so worth it.