It wasn’t so long ago that my introverted self asked the following questions:
“Why is it that I need church? Can’t I worship God at home? What is the real meaning of the word ‘fellowship,’ anyway?”
Please don’t get me wrong – I’m honestly not an antisocial individual. I just preferred to ponder things over in my own head, within my own space without the added distraction of a room full of people with idiosyncrasies that didn’t line up with my own.
Let me be the first to say that I’m ashamed to admit my tongue uttered those words. But it’s true. I didn’t understand the need for companionship in this way. I’d always had friends growing up, but somewhere in college I found myself truly standing alone…and that became the norm. Passing people in the street, my friendly self would always say hello and always wonder why no one seemed all too pleased to speak back.
“Is this what adulthood is all about?” I remember thinking.
For years, I continued to spend time with a close circle of friends but my reach never extended past the comfort of those I already knew.
Flashing forward through the years, I sat during a morning worship service listening to the pastor deliver a message on fellowship. This word was still foreign to me. He reminisced about the years when block parties were a common occurrence among neighborhoods. A time when community could come together and eat, laugh, play, share stories, offer encouragement or a helping hand. And I had to think to myself, “Have I seen one of these ‘block parties’?” We had something similar with a few of our closest neighbors when I was young. However, as people moved on there never seemed to be a hand extended to bring in anyone new.
My trip down memory lane was interrupted by the words of Hebrews 10:24-25 over the speakers – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
There was a lot of information in those two lines of scripture. And no matter what version of the Bible you’re reading the points are clear.
We are to continue:
1) To motivate
2) To meet together
3) To encourage one another
My life has truly never been the same since.
First, I began to accept the hands extended toward me within this new church experience. Second, I started speaking to people on the street again – whether they returned my friendly ‘hello’ or not. Third, I went in search of an online community designed just for women whom I could offer, as well as accept, encouragement when I was unable to meet with them in person.
Meet (in)courage. “It’s like a beach house. You can put your sandy, dirty feet on the coffee table, laugh late into the night with girlfriends and hear God’s voice through our broken, shared, beautifully redeemed everyday stories.”
For me, it wasn’t meant to take the place of meeting face-to-face, but as a busy mom I can’t always leave the home to join up with my other girlfriends. And, let’s face it ladies, there are days I need another woman cheering me on to the finish line. I need to feel encouraged! I’m sure you do, too.
If you’ve never heard of (in)courage I urge you to read about their story and their heart. Every word on those pages was a welcome site to my eager eyes. An affiliate of Dayspring, (in)courage exists to bring women of all ages, talents and walks of life together (in)Christ.
…and today begins registration for their Spring Community Groups! I encourage you to watch the video to learn a little bit about what these groups entail – however, in a nutshell, if you join you can be sure that you will partake in laughter, (perhaps a few tears), prayer and encouragement that knits us together in what community is all about.
Mothers cheering on fellow mothers. Students cheering on fellow students. Missionaries, military wives, writers, creative women, professional women, empty nesters, women fighting chronic illness… There are over 70 community groups that you can find here at (in)courager Groups.
Just in case you’re wondering…
Each community is a private/closed Facebook group where you will become acquainted with no more than 29 other women. You will have the opportunity to meet in the comfort of your own home – but rest assured your “community” does not meet out in the wide-open internet.
So please check out the links above. I am excited to say that I’ll be co-leading a group with Beth Coulton for ladies who need encouragement to explore the writing life. If this topic sounds like something you might enjoy, be sure to check us out!
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20)
Great job, Jennifer!! Prayers and blessings for you and your group!
Thank you, Holly! Can’t wait to get started. Prayers and blessing your way, as well. 😉
I love the image of putting sandy, dirty feet on the coffee table. Good Job!
Glad you are taking the plunge to step out into community!
So am I, Ali…so am I. 🙂
Signed up today and excited to join you!
Yay, Emily! Great to hear!