Finding Your Tribe

I felt nervous jitters as I scanned the list of small groups available at my church. 

I wasn’t new to the area or the church, but after three years of leading a group that had its share of girl-drama problems, I decided to take a break from leading for the time being. I was ready to sit under someone else’s leadership for a while. 

I remember trying to find the right fit for my mom-of-a-preschooler schedule. The list dwindled to just a few options. I noticed one of the Wednesday groups fit my timeframe, I also realized I knew the leader. She and I met volunteering for our church’s VBS-type program over the summer. Beyond that, I was completely going in blind. 

At the end of summer 2015, this was my reality. I have since changed churches, but this group I dove into is still a huge part of my life. I eventually began co-leading with my now dear friend and we closed the group off a couple of years ago to allow a safe space where we can share deeper, more personal stuff with each other. 

This one brave ‘yes’ to commit to a small group has had an eternal impact on each of our eight beautiful hearts. We have cried and laughed, commiserated and encouraged. We have walked out difficult things and held space for things we simply can’t make sense of. Our text thread rarely goes more than a week without coming alive with testimony and prayer requests. We struggle to get together much over the summer, but we stay in touch. We all know our friends are a phone call or text away. It is such an honor to pray for these ladies regularly and to know I am covered in prayer by them as well. 

When I think back to what these four years have brought, I see the impact we have had on each other. I am reminded of Proverbs 27:17: 

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” 

I know there have been times when my choice to be vulnerable has allowed these women to challenge me to shift my perspective. I have been called up to a higher way of thinking when I wanted to wallow in the stink of life. We have all spent time in the hot seat. But again, I am reminded of another verse, Proverbs 19:20: 

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

When I walked into that new house on a mid-September day, I had no idea the journey I was beginning. I wanted an authentic community, but I had no guarantee I would find it there. I was unsure of so much with that yes, but can I share something I did know? 

I knew God had me there for a reason. I had to release my expectations that they were going to be my people. The group evolved and shrank over the first two years and what emerged was my tribe. I stuck it out and patiently poured into the group what I believed God had for them, and I received what others brought to me. If you long for a group, let me share a few tips to achieving a life-giving small group. 

Pray for God to lead you to a group (or to start a group) that longs to grow closer to Him.

God made us for community and loves when we connect to our brothers and sisters in Christ. He is for connection and a loving group that will build each other up in Him. Maybe consider starting one through your church. (But don’t see this as your only option).

Take responsibility for your own vulnerability. 

You know when you are sharing to connect and when you are holding back to self-protect. Be authentic, using discernment to determine how much and when. 

Commit to the group. 

It is so hard to build relationships when you are only going once in a blue moon. Find a group you can meet with consistently, even if it is only twice a month. 

Keep the group focused on growth. 

As much fun as it is to get together with friends and just “do life,” make sure you have a group that is meeting to “spur one another on” in faith. 

We need to surround ourselves with those who will sharpen and challenge us on a regular basis. Going to church is amazing, but having a discussion about how you are growing in God will do as much or more for your faith than you can imagine. My most exponential growth has happened in the context of being connected to a small group. Find one, form one, commit to one. Let God use you to positively impact others. You have something to offer!

LifeAshley FerrisComment