I've been part of the OEM community for the past 4 years, one month and seven days. But, as many can probably relate to, when I first joined OEM, I found it a bit overwhelming. I enjoyed coming to church, but it was challenging getting to know people beyond a friendly hello and goodbye. That is, until I joined my first small group.
Being part of small groups has blessed my life in countless ways. Here are the top five:
1. Celebrating together and suffering together: I am always so thankful to have a group of friends who cry with me when I grieve and celebrate with me when I rejoice. The encouragement, support and love that I have received from my small groups always made the valleys more bearable and the mountaintops more enjoyable.
2. Serving together: Part of being in small groups is serving as a unit, not only inside the church but also in the greater community. My small groups have participated in Soup Kitchens, Prayer Walks, Homeless Outreach and Street Evangelism to name a few. Being able to collectively give of your time, energy, finances and talents is very rewarding and works to really bond a team.
3. Being accountable together: Whether it's sticking to a Bible reading plan, starting a weekly exercise regime, or being more disciplined in your devotions, having accountability partners is one of the highlights of being in a small group community. The opportunity to be lovingly challenged to grow in the image of Christ is invaluable.
4. Praying and studying God's Word together: We all know that prayer is powerful and God's Word transfroms us. Being able to be vulnerable and transparent about your struggles and prayer requests knowing that you're in safe and confidential environment allows you to really open up and go deeper with the people in your small group. Witnessing answered prayers and transformation in your own life and in the lives of others is a beautiful experience.
5. Enjoying life together: If you thought it couldn't get any better... Small groups are also a lot fun! Pizza outings, karaoke nights, bowling, brunches, baseball games and so much more! Laughing and enjoying life together is a wonderful, refreshing part of small groups and it really is icing on the cake.
I asked a few of my friends and former small group members what they loved most about being part of a small group. Their answers included:
"Edifying one other and building each other up in faith"
"Being reminded of God's Character by seeing Him work in the lives of others"
"Being reaffirmed of who I am in Christ and getting glimpses of how God sees me"
"Being able to give one another strength"
"Community and encouragement"
"Sense of belonging"
If you want to be part of a diverse community of believers with whom you can pray, serve, grow and enjoy life, I would highly encourage you to consider signing up for a small group today. I guarantee that your experience at OEM will be much more rewarding.
-- N. Spiers
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