When I moved back home after college, pretty much all my friends had moved away without returning, so I was lonely and didn’t feel like I had anywhere to meet people. (Not that my introverted self would’ve gone if there had been a place, but still!) I didn’t see many other people my age around, and even if I did, I didn’t know how to make those initial connections with them.
My church kicked off a bunch of small groups that fall, and a stranger invited me to one. I was scared to go by myself, so I politely declined.
I got invited to the same group again and finally decided to just try it.
That group turned out to be SUCH a blessing in that season. I had people to hang out with and something to look forward to every week, and even though I don’t think I met a single person there with whom I still keep in touch, I was so glad I’d gone out of my comfort zone and joined the group. It filled me up each week and gave me somewhere to belong. It was exactly what I needed.
A few years after finishing college, I got involved with a bigger “small group”: the new young adults group my church was starting. As is typical for me, I was terrified to go the first time, but this time I made friends right from the get-go. I can’t tell you how many connections I made because of this group. I met more people there than through any other avenue or at any other time in my life, including college! Again, although not every one of those connections turned into a lifetime friendship, I’m so glad I took a chance and got involved, and I would’ve felt the same way even if I’d walked away without a single friend. I can’t imagine how lonely I would’ve been without having this group available to me.
Of course, on the flip side, I’ve also been a part of small groups that just weren’t for me. I didn’t click with anyone else and ended up moving on. Even so, there’s not a single group I regret trying. In each of those seasons, I needed a squad (just like in every season!), and although some weren’t a fit for me, I could rest in the knowledge that I’d at least given them a shot and didn’t have to wonder…What if?
Earlier this year, I began my second small group as a leader. Although I’m not any less intimidated to lead a group than I am to join someone else’s, I know well the feeling of being lonely, of wanting to belong and having nowhere to go, and of wishing there were more places to make good Christian friends. I don’t want anyone in my sphere of influence not to have the opportunity to join a small group like others have provided me. The main reason I am leading a small group is because I have needed a small group so many times in my own life. I’ve experienced the value small groups can bring and the hole when community is absent, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that absence.
I get all the hesitations with small groups. They can be scary to join, sometimes they’re lame, and oftentimes you just find that a group isn’t a fit. I’ve been there. But I’ve also reaped the benefits of small groups. I’m so glad I joined each one, even the ones that didn’t yield any lifelong friends.
If you are lonely, if you’re looking for your squad, if you just want more time to socialize, or if you want to grow in your faith with like-minded people…consider joining a small group. We all need community and it’s worth the investment. It’s worth the risk, even (especially?) if you’re an introvert like me and it’s a little out of your comfort zone. 😊
I pray that each one of you has a place to belong and that no one goes without the opportunity to join a small group that feels like home to you. Your place is out there…just keep searching if you haven’t found it yet! And don’t be afraid to take a chance. The best friends you’ve ever had might be on the other side of your fear!