Recently, I was offended and upset by a Facebook post shared by a member of my extended family. At first, I wanted to reply with a remark that would be either challenging, sarcastic or guilt-inflicting. I was alone at home that day, and I knew I could easily write something I might regret later. Thankfully, God reminded me of my “church,” that is, my growth group here at GRC. 

So, instead of writing on Facebook, I wrote an email to my growth group – a group of wise and faithful folks.*  I shared the Facebook post, told them how it made me feel, and asked them if they thought it would be alright for me to reply. After I sent the email, I figured I would get some responses later that day.

Well, the group responded en masse, and I received many responses within the hour. Each said the same thing: wait until you cool down; give it a day or two and then come back to it. These folks know me well; they know how hot headed I can be. Yet each one responded with gentleness and grace. After reading their initial responses, I took a big breath, calmed down, and thought to myself, “This is what the ‘church’ looks like.” They heard my question and came to my aid; they took me seriously and counseled me with wisdom. I closed my computer and went on with my day. Later, when I thought about the Facebook post, the post didn’t bother me so much and I no longer felt I needed to reply.

The book of Acts describes the church in this way: They [believers] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold their property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people…”  (Acts 2:42-47a).  Here, we see the local church: a community cultivated through studying God’s word together, through corporate worship and prayer on a regular basis, through sharing meals and belongings with each other, all in a spirit of transparency and grace.

So, yes, I am making a not-so-subtle plug for growth groups! A growth group can provide mutual support, dependable accountability, and a sense of family and belonging within the body of Christ. 

As the fall rapidly approaches, won’t you consider investigating growth groups here at GRC? As Peter recently said in a sermon, try a few to see which group would be a good fit. And, for those of us who are already in a growth group, let the writer of Hebrews remind us to “… hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25) Whether on a Zoom call, by email, or in person, let us continue to meet together as members of one body, the body of Christ. 

* A special shout-out to Stan, Ellen, David, Rochelle, Heidi, Albert, Wendy, Anne, Sherry, Shelley, Jeannie, Katlyne, and Aliesha!!  Y’all ROCK!!

Betsy Tyvoll is a member of GRC. She and her husband, Stan, lead a weekly Growth Group.

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