Tag Archives: Small Groups

From Ankles To Belonging

From Ankles To Belonging

Small groups are restarting now at Cedar Hills, as we begin our Walk Like Jesus series, and I would like to encourage us all to join a group. Not because it’s easy. In fact, small groups take time and work to be successful. Don’t join a small group because it will solve all your problems because some days it will seem like your small group has created new problems. Don’t join a small group if you feel like everyone will agree with you and always get along easily. All of these are unrealistic expectations of small groups. They all over sell the benefits and minimize the fact that when you meet with other broken people, it won’t always be easy to love them (or for them to love you), and sometimes you will be offended. That’s just life. However, there are many benefits to opening up your lives to others.

It helps me identify my own selfishness and pride. When I meet with others, I must wrestle with caring for other people. Do I care enough to listen well to you? Do I care enough to inconvenience myself to help you when you need it? Will I swallow my pride enough to admit when I need help? If I ‘go it alone,’ as a ‘lone ranger’ Christian, I never have to deal with these issues. However, when your son ends up in the hospital where do you turn for support? Well, for my family, that is my wife’s small group. These women watched our children and made us meals.

I hate to be an inconvenience to others. I despise being dependent on others for help. But I believe the humble call of Jesus is to be a part of His Body and to find a place to belong. The brain needs the blood vessels and heart. The feet need the leg muscles to function properly. I recently rolled my ankle. My right ankle is healing, but now my left leg muscles and back are sore. Why? Because all the parts of my body are connected. While my right ankle is hurting, my left leg is working overtime to help compensate as I limp. Just like all the parts of my body are interdependent, God made us to belong to each other as part of His body. I think one of the best ways to find a place to belong at Cedar Hills is to join a small group. It won’t be easy. It may drive you crazy at times. However, belonging is worth it.

Steve Poole
Director of Youth & Young Adults

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    Living In Fear Of

    Living In Fear Of

    Part 1:

    I just read a blog post suggesting that if we put the word “teenage” before any term, the second word automatically becomes negative. For example: “Teenage Driver.”

    Also, teenage drama. Teenage hormones. Teenage choices.

    This negative association, according to the blogger, is everywhere. We seem to be living in fear of teenagers. Then the writer of this post said, “I think there is something fundamentally wrong with how we think about teenagers.”

    I agree.

    And I wonder, if we spent time with teenagers, would that make us less fearful? I wonder, if we imagined the potential of teenagers as 1 Timothy 4:12 does – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity – would we have less fear? I wonder, if we invested in helping the next generation succeed, would we have less fear of teenagers?

    Familiarity overcomes fear. What are we living in fear of? Teenagers? Maybe we need some exposure therapy to help us confront this fear.

    Part 2

    I met with my small group last night. It was the meeting that saved my week. After an exhausting series of meetings, I did not want to meet again with my small group. I actually was afraid that I might not have enough energy.

    We met anyway.

    We are doing the Walk Like Jesus study and the group blew me away. We all want to be more like Jesus. We want this even though this desire kind of scares us. What will Jesus want from us? What changes can we expect to make? What happens when Jesus calls us to obey and we are not ready to obey?

    Our group said, “Full steam ahead. We want to walk like Jesus and we will not live in fear.”

    “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

    Kent Landhuis
    Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

    Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry or learn something new? Let Kent know.

      Small Groups Are Scary

      Small Groups Are Scary

      Small groups are scary.  At least that’s what I thought most of my life as I skillfully did everything I could possibly do to avoid being a part of one.

      They gave me visions of sitting criss-cross applesauce in small circles, singing kumbaya, with forced sharing of intimate stories and lots of crying.  Not my thing.

      It wasn’t until I arrived in Cedar Rapids in my late 20’s that I made any real effort of actually trying one.  I’ll be honest, the first couple I tried to be a part of eventually flopped, ended, or disintegrated into messes, which just cemented in my head even more that they weren’t worth my time.

      So with a not-worth-my-time attitude and my propensity towards being as introverted as one can be,  I thought my time in small groups was over. JUST NOT GOING TO DO IT. No, no, no, no, no. No Thank You.

      Until last year. I tried again. This time, it was a Bible study group of women. I only joined it because my husband was a part of the same Bible study organization, as were my kids—and even though each met on a different day, we’d be studying the same curriculum and daily questions together. So weighed down by sheer mom-guilt alone, I decided I should try it.

      This particular group was super-structured, and involved intense, weekly individual homework. It wasn’t too big, or too small. We (15 ladies) had a set timeframe of starting and stopping, set number of questions to answer, and a set number of minutes for “socializing” which was great for my general let’s-just-dig-in-the-Word-and-get-on-with-it mindset. You know what?? I LOVED IT!!!!  Turns out, I just do really well with structure. Like, SUPER structured. No sugary snacks, no coffee time, just a tiny bit of socializing, and lots and lots and lots of Bible study in and out of the meeting.

      This revelation has been huge. Small groups are scary when they are a structure that doesn’t fit how I’m wired, but there are so many out there! And so many options!

      So if you have given up on them, or are weirdly wired like me and just need structure to function, can I encourage you to try again? And maybe again? And then maybe one more time? And maybe once more after that?

      Leah Carolan
      Director of Worship & Media


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        My Small Group Is Better Than Your Small Group

        My Small Group Is Better Than Your Small Group

        In truth I hope your small group is ‘as good as’ or ‘even better than’ mine!

        I wish I could wave a magic wand and grant everybody the kind of small group experience that I have. My small group is made up of six women. We’ve been meeting for two years. We have seen some of the highs and lows of life and we have borne them together. When it’s time to celebrate, we do it together. When it’s time to mourn, we are there with good food and a listening ear. Of course we all have families, responsibilities, and work waiting for us. However, we prioritize this time together because we are called to be in community. One that points us towards others and towards Christ.

        The truth of it is that because we have chosen to be vulnerable, to reveal our hearts and our sins with each other, this has allowed our group to flourish. There is unity is knowing the struggles are shared. We bear each other’s burdens in this way.

        Staying at a surface level and refusing to reveal the actual details and sin in your life is the kiss of death for a group.

        It’s tempting to hole up in your own home, your own mind, and your own heart. It’s so incredibly tempting to say NO to the invitation to be vulnerable. It’s so comfortable to sit on your own and ignore the call in your heart to connect, because connection takes WORK, and who wants to do more work?

        More than likely if you are saying no to connecting, to being vulnerable, it’s because you’ve been hurt before. You can’t live for long without getting hurt in this broken world, however I encourage you to take the risk. God will see the step you are taking to connect and He will honor that.

        If you are ready to take the step of joining a small group, or taking your current small group deeper into connection, I’m ready to help you.

        At Cedar Hills we are committed to seeing small groups grow and mature into a beautiful group of Christians who are speaking truth and love to each other.

        It takes guts to be in a small group, but it also reveals God’s glory.

        Lindsey Ungs
        Connection & Communication Architect

        Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry or learn something new? Let Lindsey know.