Let’s start with a picture, shall we? It’ll summarize the situation succinctly for us.
That, gentle reader, is supposed to be hot dogs on our grill last night. Every Wednesday night we host a small group at our house, which involves eating dinner together, shooting the breeze, and also studying the Bible.
The new churchly-correct term for this is joining in community.
Whatever. As long as someone shows up and feeds me chips and lets me hold a baby, I don’t care what we call it. And I did indeed get to eat chips and hold two babies, but before that I set fire to dinner.
Flames, people. Incineration.
You may remember last year when I melted the siding on our house. Same situation. I put the burgers on the grill, shut the cover, and went in the house for a plate. I came back out, smelled the charcoal that was supposed to be dinner, saw the flames leaping out the back and the smoke rolling out the front. I ran to the grill, possibly using an unChristlike word, and shut off the gas.
I was afeared to look.
But I had to look, because as this was occurring the small group members were pulling up to our house. Susannah and Nic made it in the door first, and when Susannah saw the carnage she said, very sweetly, “Nic and I could go get a pizza…”
In hindsight, we totally should have gone with the pizza. But I pulled the burned food off the grill and started with new burgers, because I’d had the foresight to buy two packages that afternoon. Dinner was late but it didn’t really matter because when you have three children under the age of 18 months in your small group, time is a relatively loose concept.
The food eventually made it to the table, we talked and ate and, truth be told, never actually got around to studying the Bible. We had to make plans for the next round of study, you see.
Here is my point: small groups are wonderful. Even if you burn the dinner, even if someone spends the evening chasing a toddler around the house and keeping the cat food out of her mouth, even if you have to buy paper plates because you can’t stand to wash all the dishes, small groups are wonderful. You should be in one. You should host one.
Church is well and good, but sharing in the lives of others happens in a different and beautiful way in a small group. Relaxed meals in t-shirts and flip flops open doors to conversations we might not have in high heels in the church building’s foyer. We really get a chance to talk. To share. To help. Just think of it– Jesus’ ministry was based on a small group format. Thirteen men, wandering around the countryside together. They shared life and weathered the storm together.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t vacuumed your carpet or the shoe closet smells like a 9 year old’s feet. It doesn’t matter if you burn the dinner or spend an hour nursing a baby. Just give it a try. Invest in the lives of others with what paltry resources you have, and you might be shocked at the blessings you reap in return.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see to the grill. I fear there may be a layer of grease that will cause another fire, and I don’t think we ought to tempt fate a second time this summer.
And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. (1 Thessalonians 3:12)