A Place Where You Belong

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August 18, 2020

I know a thing about not feeling like I belong. And I’ll be blunt. The majority of that pain came from the church. I had tried multiple churches from my childhood to college and into adulthood. Church was intimidating. You walk in brand new and automatically feel like the odd one out. Or, you’ve been around for a while and never connected with anyone. Church is hard sometimes. But it’s even harder when you feel alone.

Do you know why it doesn’t feel good? Because that isn’t how God created the church to be for His children. But you see, the church is full of messy, sinful people. It took me a bit to separate this from the fact that we have an awesome and loving our God and He wants something grand and beautiful for us while we are on this earth, and that is community.

God designed us to live in community so we can experience the joy of living life and serving together! Multiple times in Scripture, we see how God had specifically crafted community for our lives. His Word charges us again and again to have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7), to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), to confess our sins and pray for each other (James 5:16), and to spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). At Woodside, we do this through Groups, or what I call, my church family!

For the first time in my life, I experienced this beautiful gift from God. When my husband and I joined a Group, as soon as we started attending Woodside Bible Church Romeo Campus, immediately we felt included. People were going out of their way to introduce us to more members of the church and invite us into their lives. It was something I had never experienced before, and it is something I still hold sacred five years later.

Hannah’s life group got the opportunity to serve together on a mission trip to Ecuador

Groups at Woodside have the purpose of connecting people so that we can learn together, grow together, and serve together. Through our Group, we have gained lasting friendships for not only me and my husband but little friendships for our children. I call them “family” because, just like a family, we regularly meet with each other, we share meals, celebrate successes and holidays together, and even more importantly, grow our relationships with Christ through study and accountability.

Now, the unique themed dinners and game nights are entertaining, but where we truly bonded with our Group was during the trials and challenges. In the last five years, our Group has seen the loss of jobs, many moves, medical scares, pregnancies, and even the loss of pregnancies. Without even having to ask, we always had an army of prayer warriors speaking to God on our behalf and ready to stop whatever they are doing to help in any way they can.

Specifically, I am eternally grateful when our Group contributed to getting us into our current home. Our house was a huge fixer upper. We desperately needed to move in, so everyone pitched in one day, worked on every single room of our house until it was livable. Over pizza and paintbrushes, we saw God blessing us through so many amazing people with such a heart to serve.

We always have an army of prayer warriors speaking to God on our behalf and ready to stop whatever they are doing to help in any way they can.

God blessed us with a family. Groups give us the opportunity to build lasting relationships, ones that will encourage, challenge, and strength your relationship with God. And through God, He will equip your Group to impact people’s lives significantly; may that be in the church, surrounding community, or beyond. My husband had the honor of serving side by side with another couple from our Group on a mission trip to Ecuador last September.

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day, those who were being saved.
Acts 2:46–47 (I recommend reading this whole chapter of the Bible if you have a moment, it’s good!)

When I read about the early church, I get excited that this tradition of fellowship is just as strong and present today as it was in the Bible. It is encouraging! God has been using the church to glorify Him since the beginning, and I feel honored to be apart of this SAME spiritual family today!

Remember how I talked about church being full of messy, sinful people? Well, it still is. Our Group is full of them. But I love them, and they love us. Just like a family, relationships take work, patience, and forgiveness. Even with those evolving relationships and challenges along the way, we are there for each other because we know together we glorify our heavenly Father, who has never forsaken us!

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Romans 15:5–7

Whether you’ve heard about Woodside’s Groups or not, I (a messy individual who has been grateful to be a part of a Group for five years) want to encourage you to sign up, or maybe host/lead a Group. It is so worth it, mess and all!