When I was 18 years old, I joined my very first life group. I had spent all my life in church learning about God, the Bible, Christianity and faith. But it was in this small group setting that my spiritual life really took off. As I look back on that critical time of spiritual formation in my life, I notice seven key ingredients from that life group that sparked a spiritual passion and fire inside of me.
- FRIENDS. What God gave me in that life group were a few Christian friends to begin to hang out with. We went to concerts, hung out at each other’s houses, and went out to eat. We enjoyed being together. Having good friends is vital to living a life of faith and following Jesus.
- FEEDBACK. Eventually, these relationships turned the corner and our discussions in our “hang out times” turned from surface-level to important decisions of life. For me at that time, I needed feedback about career path, college selection, dating / marriage and many other important choices. In my small group, I could gain honest feedback around these topics that I had to think through.
- BIBLE STUDY. Joining a life group is the easiest way to learn about the Bible, ask questions, and apply God’s Word to everyday life. The Word of God speaks often about real life situations. The discussions I had in my small group about the Bible really helped me understand what God was saying to me when I read His Word.
- PRAYER. We would end each night with a time of prayer for each other. Up until that point, I had never prayed out loud in front of others. But in a safe environment with my friends, I learned how to pray out loud. And we saw answers to our prayers! It was so exciting and it really grew my faith.
- EXAMPLES. One of the Bible verses that we always quoted to each other in that season of time was “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” And that really came true in my life. The other people in my small group caused my spiritual life to go to a new level. I simply watched what they were doing, and I did the same thing. It was “positive peer pressure.”
- FUN. The leaders of my group really created an atmosphere that I loved coming to. I looked forward to Tuesday Nights. I would bring my Doritos and Mt. Dew and we would have fun. We would laugh, tell jokes, sometimes go out and have fun (instead of the Bible study). It wasn’t boring or stiff – it was exciting.
- SERVING. We would also, from time to time, roll our sleeves up and do something positive for someone else. One time we did a mission trip together. Another time we served at a church plant with an outreach they were having. I remember a time we did yard work for a person that was having a tough time. It was awesome to see the impact that a group of us could have as a team.
These seven qualities were not apparent to me in the group on the very first night I attended. It took perseverance on my part to invest my time into the group and to invest my heart into these relationships. And my group had its fair share of failures and short-comings (as does every group), but I eventually realized the full potential that a faith-filled atmosphere had upon my life.
As a result, my life was truly changed through that life group. I pray that you can find the same values in a life group as well. You won’t regret the decision to stick with it, and find a group that fits your life.
Chris Griffin is the Hampton Campus Pastor at Allison Park Church. Chris grew up at Allison Park Church since he was seven years old and has served on our staff since 2000. Chris graduated Geneva College with a degree in Organizational Development and is ordained with the Assemblies of God. Chris is happily married to Kate with four kids; their whole family bleeds Black and Gold.