by Laura Forman

For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20

Nothing nourishes the soul as much as time with God. We are spiritually fed through quiet moments in God’s word, prayer and meditation, Sunday morning services, singing in worship and reaching out with the love of Christ to a hurting world.

For many of us, the journey stops here. While we realize Christian community is important, intentional meeting often ends up overlooked because life is so full already. However, something special occurs when a small group of  Christian brothers and sisters gather. Authenticity happens, accountability, encouragement, connection, guidance and indeed…God.

With the next Small Group Connection coming up February 1, Amy Hodson shares how the Immanuel small group experience has enriched her life as well as her husband Graeme’s life.

IC: Did you have any reservations about joining a small group?

Amy: We did not because we had been involved in small groups at two prior churches before we moved to Gurnee last January.  We find real value in building Godly relationships and community through small group ministry, and being new to Immanuel in May, it was a wonderful way to connect within the church body.

IC: How has being in a small group impacted your faith?

Amy: Significantly.  God has used small groups to reach us in very particular ways.  In our first experience in Ohio, the small group study was generally linked to the sermon series and served to reinforce and delve deeper into the scripture and discuss application of God’s Word to our lives in a personal way.  Our Michigan small group began meeting shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008.  God equipped that group with a ready sense of fellowship – we clicked – and brought together other couples who had been through cancer or serious illness before and simply surrounded us with love, encouragement, honesty and Godly fellowship.  We spent one series working through Mark Gungor’s Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, and it was fantastic to laugh together and discuss as friends how God wanted to grow our marriages.

Our Immanuel Small Group is coming together in a similar way.  As we have shared our stories over the past few months, we have drawn connections and grown together in fellowship.  I really value the time we spend together in prayer as well as the diversity of experience gathered in one room.  Our group ranges in age from early 40s to late 50s, and the breadth of experience gives the group a great deal of spiritual depth.

IC: Have you seen evidence of God working through your particular group? How?

Amy: Yes, in a few key ways.  First, as members share their “stories” we see evidence of God’s faithfulness to his children demonstrated in the paths of individual lives.  Second, we have seen God answer many prayers we have raised together.  Finally, for Graeme and I, God has answered the prayer we’ve prayed for community and fellowship as we continue to transition to a new home, church and community.

IC: What about your group do you look forward to?

Amy: Well, the short answer is more of Rose and Mark Boothe’s (group leaders) wonderful cooking and hospitality!  Mark rocks those chocolate chip cookies!  On a more serious note, though, we are looking forward to deepening the friendships we’ve begun to build and to growing together in faith.  As we move into the “40 days in the Word” series, we are looking forward to studying scripture as a couple (something we miss the mark on!) and as a group.  Finally, we also look forward to the laughter—as a group we laugh a lot and that is such a blessing!

IC: What would you say to others thinking of joining a small group?

Amy: DO IT!  God will bless the time you spend together!

To read more about the February 1st Small Group Connection or the upcoming series 40 Days in the Word, click here.

100_1824Laura Forman is married to David and they live in Gurnee with their five children. She is a personal trainer, freelance writer and can be found at church or www.lauralisaforman.com.

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