Written by Anna Aiken
Summer is one of my favorite seasons because my long awaited date with the beach will soon become a reality. I love the sounds of the crashing waves, the joyful and contagious laughter of children, seeing families gathered along the beaches, and the mesmerizing sunsets.
But off in the distance in the calmness of the ocean and undetected to an untrained eye, riptides are forming. Riptides have the ability to pull even the best and most experienced swimmer dangerously away from the shore.
I was amazed by an article I read of a human chain formed by 80 strangers to save a family from a riptide. A mother dove into the ocean to save her 8 and 11 year old only to be caught in the dangerous current herself. With no rope or lifeguard available, the beachgoers decided to take action and save the family. Strength in Numbers.
Life Groups are like that 80 person human chain. When the riptides of life threaten to pull you away from the comforts of your life, life groups are people who will encircle you with prayer, care, love, and words of encouragement. When the overwhelmness of life sometimes makes you feel like you’re drowning, life groups can provide you a lifeline. We have all experienced the riptides of life; job loss, challenging relationships, unanswered prayers, loss of a loved one, or an unfavorable health diagnosis. Any of these can rip the sails out of anyone’s boat. But God didn’t create us to weather life alone. Just imagine for one moment, how much easier life would be if we surrounded ourselves with people willing to paddle the oar next to us rather than charting the course of life alone.
Life Groups is an important ministry. Many wonderful possibilities can be born out of life groups.
Over 12 years ago, I started a moms group which was birthed out of my own personal challenges of being a stay at home mom to then three children. That group was a lifeline for me because it helped me realize that I wasn’t alone in my own personal struggles. From that group, I have found two of my closest friends and we are still connected to this day.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born out of adversity” Proverbs 17:17
Life Groups provides us with opportunities to help one another break free from whatever holds us back from being the person that God has created us to be. Our fears or poor choices can be paralyzing and can prevent us from experiencing the freedom that God provides.
“And let us spur one another on towards love and good deeds” Hebrews 10:24
Sometimes all that is needed to help us get back onto course is a gentle reminder from a fellow believer about God’s word and promises. From time to time, we will lose our focus. We will have our eyes fixed on our circumstances, our flaws, or fall into the comparison trap. But life groups can help redirect our eyes and fix them onto the author of our lives.
“Looking onto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” Hebrews 12:2
As life group leaders, we need to form a human chain and help those around us who may be too fearful or introverted to join a life group. We need to leave our comfort zone like those 80 beachgoers and step into the waters.
Chris Surratt in his book “Small Groups for the Rest of Us” said it best, “the secret sauce of small groups is helping create an environment where messed up people like us are able to look at each other and say, “You too?” it frames the message of the gospel in a whole new way. Suddenly people understand grace in a context they never knew before. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are that brought them to this place. It only matters that someone else understands.”
As leaders we don’t need to know or have all the answers. We just need to point them to the One who does. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm, and secure.” Hebrews 6:19
Anna Aiken is the Life Group Director of Allison Park Church. She is happily married to Sean and a busy mom of five. She loves all things Disney, chocolate,and her pink beach cruiser. Most days, you’ll find her busily driving her fabulous 5 around to various activities. But she enjoys every moment of it because she’s over the moon in love with her family.