I will never forget the drive to our first small group. It was a couple of years ago and my wife had finally convinced me to participate in one. We had been attending the services at church for several months, but neither of us had gotten up the courage to respond to the countless invitations to “plug in”.
For whatever reason, my wife had made up her mind that it would be “fun” to plug in, but I was still totally against it. I’m more of an introvert and besides… show up to someone’s house I don’t even know to hang out with a bunch of other people I don’t know? – No thanks.
That may sound crass, but that was honestly my thought process at the time. As we pulled into the driveway of the host house I had my entire mind made up against ‘plugging in’, ‘small groups’, and whatever else they wanted to invite me to.
We walked up to the door and rang the doorbell to, at the time, a complete stranger’s house. As we were welcomed inside it took me about 10 seconds to realize we didn’t know anyone there.
I knew it! It was going to be a horrible experience and we were going to sit in the corner of the room and try to fit in for three hours. Boy was my wife going to get to hear it when we left!
But then something crazy happened. People started coming up to me and asking me questions. They seemed genuinely interested in my wife and me. They offered us food, drinks, and a place to sit. They smiled and laughed and didn’t leave us sitting in some dark corner by ourselves like I had imagined it.
Plus, I wasn’t even asked to recite the Ten Commandments or quizzed on the Old Testament. We talked about college football, work and family. We watched the game, people talked, kids ran around, and it was about as far from being ‘stuffy’ and ‘stale’ as you can get.
It’s been awhile since that occurred, but I still haven’t forgotten the fear that I had to overcome. Nor have I forgotten the excuses that I came up with.
I know where you’re coming from if you’re afraid to plug in.
I know what it feels like to be afraid that people will see through your paper-thin knowledge of the Bible and what it means to be a Christian. I know what it feels like to walk around hoping that you don’t have to be too vulnerable or admit how messed up you are. I know how tempting it is to hoard your time for yourself and pretend that you don’t have any left for making new friends.
It may be true that you’re an introvert or that you’re afraid of being judged or you really don’t have time, but I’ve learned that the only way to truly live an effective life for the Kingdom is by living it with His people.
We weren’t designed to do the Christian life alone. We can’t do it alone.
If you want to grow in your walk with God then you have to grow in your walk with His people.
When Jesus is praying about the love of God being shared with the world He doesn’t talk about it being accomplished through scripture memorization or perfect church attendance or morality. He talks about it being accomplished by believers doing life together.
“23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
Plugging in is scary and I can’t guarantee you that your life won’t change. In fact, your life most likely will change – but for the better.
If you’re walking in sin – you will most likely be walked out of it. If you’re living life as a casual church goer – you will probably develop a desire to give your life away and start serving.
And none of those changes will take place because you’ve been pressured. They will take place because you’ve been inspired.
You will meet people who humbly admit their weaknessess and failures – giving you just enough courage to admit you’re own. You will be surrounded by people who live a lifestyle of generosity and selflessness – showing you exactly what it means to be the “hands and feet of Christ”.
Life is hard, but it’s even harder if you try to do it alone. If you’re doing life alone I challenge you to get plugged in to a church near you. Join a small group, participate in a serve opportunity, or volunteer your time each week alongside others in your church. Fight past the fear of the unkown and you will gain a family, not just friends.