One of our good friends in Tulsa is apart of a church plant. He asked Phil and I what made our small group so special and if we had any advice or tips from leading. The following is my response.
Ok, so this might be WAY more detail then you wanted to know, but as I started reflecting this was very therapeutic for me, so I went with it. Welcome to the ramblings of Brittney’s brain!
Why I think our small group was so freaking awesome….
Well, here’s the back-story on our group.
First, we had three couples that wanted to start one. Two were good friends, one had just moved to Denton and were willing to do anything to have friends. Like lead a small group of complete strangers. 🙂
Then they added three single friends and another couple. The guy of the new couple backed his car into another guy’s car in our group. He said he wouldn’t call the insurance company if he came to our small group. That’s right. Bribery.
Then through the church “rush” event we added three more singles. One of whom Phil and I both felt would bring the group together in some unknown way (true story). The other would be our sweet little college freshman we would have to educate on life (she didn’t know who Madonna was). But seriously, we love her 🙂
Then we had another single girl join who had just gotten out of an “almost engaged” relationship. Best thing that ever happened to her or to me.
A few months later we added another couple, and then a few months after that we added our last couple. One of the wives worked at this super awesome bakery and always brought delicious snacks to group. I wish she would have started coming sooner 🙂
And so our group was formed!!
One thing that we all had in common was that we were starving for real community. The kind that all the blogs and preachers and podcasts say you should have but none of us knew if it was really possible. I think if people felt this was just another bible study or small group this wouldn’t have been as successful. Each of us were either A) lonely and desperately needed community B) Felt distant from the Lord after being burned by church C) Tried going at it alone and college and now found themselves with no support. Because of this, we were all eager, yet extremely humbled.
From the very beginning Phil and I wanted to set the tone of openness, vulnerability and trust within the group, and we were very intentional with how we did that. We knew that if we wanted others to be open and vulnerable, we had to be open and vulnerable as well.
Phil and I prayed for our group, a lot. Mondays we prayed throughout the day in preparation for meeting that night. Then after our small group time, Phil and I stayed up late and talked about how it went, people’s prayer requests that we felt comfortable sharing and our strategy for the coming week. (After our group lesson/convo we split up guys and girls for prayer requests. We made it clear from the beginning that I wouldn’t be sharing everything with Phil and Phil wouldn’t be sharing everything with me.) We were also intentional about meeting with 1-2 people for some one-on-one time every week. Obviously, God’s timing was perfect in all this because we had the lifestyle that made this easier. We had each other to lean on for support, but so much free time (Phil working from home and me part time) that we could meet up with almost anyone at any time. Also, two other couples lived in the same apartment complex as us, so we were able to see them every day.
The first night we were all together we knew God had done something amazing. Again, prayer, prayer, prayer. Our first night as a group we went around and shared our testimonies. We told people ahead of time so that they wouldn’t be caught off guard. The first person to share was a guy who was shockingly vulnerable and went into detail about his personal sin that God saved him from and how he still struggles with it. That moment right there set the tone for our group because after that everyone was so open. I think it took us three weeks to get through everyone’s story. After that we felt incredibly bonded because we all knew about the crap we had gone through before coming to Christ and our struggles afterwards.
Then we had a tragic accident. And BOOM.
At this point we had been going for a semester. We had all gotten to know each other and we were all FRIENDS. Seriously, we hung out all the time. We actually did life together. But when Cherise (the girl who we both felt the Holy Spirit tell us was special… yea. Again, true story!) had her stroke, our whole tiny world stopped for us.
We were driving to church with our friend Brittany in the back seat when we got the call. We went to church, found our group (we went to the same service and sat together each week) and told them what little we knew. A few people stayed behind but about 10 of us rushed to Ft. Worth, which was an hour away. We sat in the waiting room for hours and prayed and prayed and cried and prayed. We knew it was bad, but we didn’t know how bad. We ended up being at the hospital until midnight when we knew she was stable.
The next morning several of us came back and from that moment on there was someone from our group at the hospital 24/7 for the next three weeks. We took shifts, people changed their work schedule, and we had small group at the hospital. We ran errand for her parents, sat with Cherise so they could have a break to shower and rest, sent out FB updates, and entertained Cherise when she was awake. We also got to talk to all her family that would come to see her. There were only two people allowed in the room at a time, so we got to know all her family really well. And we prayed. A lot.
While all this was horrible, God was so good. My favorite memory was the second Monday after her stroke. We decided to have small group at the hospital for the first time. Again, it’s an hour away and EVERY DAY there were people from our small group going. That’s how much we loved each other. Anyways, that Monday we were all exhausted, and quite delirious. We sat on the floor of the waiting room right outside the elevator in the NuroICU and had small group. One of the couples brought spaghetti for everyone, and for the first time in a week (in hospital hours that’s like a month!) we laughed!! We offered people spaghetti as they got on or off the elevator, we poked fun at each other, we laughed about the CRAZY things Cherise was saying while on mega drugs…. it was perfect. It was the body of Christ played our right before us 🙂
But because of how deep the roots of our relationships now were with one another, our group grew in other ways. We became more outward focused. We began to serve in our community, our conversations were more focused with each other and non-believers, we were more gracious and direct when calling out sin, and we began to love on those in our work places. We even invited a guy who lived in our apartment complex to our group who was going through some MAJOR stuff. It was so amazing to love on him with patience and grace. I don’t think our group would have been as Christ-like in that situation the semester before.
I don’t know why we’re here in Tulsa. I tried to do everything I could to stay and continue with this group and with our church. But one of the sweet things is that now our friends are apart of three different groups, and they all have said how they are taking what we developed as a group and implementing it in theirs. And I know that’s not me. That’s not something the Lucias created. That’s something amazing the God did that he allowed us and blessed to be apart of. I hope that was can do the same thing with friends here in Tulsa.