Our Blog

Filter By:

Why I Love Small Group | The Marcouxs

main image

I guess the best way to explain what we love about small groups is to share our experiences that we have had with the Tugwell Small Group, which we have been with for almost one year.

In late August of 2014, we started coming to Integrity Church.  I remember the announcement being, “And make sure you get connected to a small group where we have Christian community and ‘DO LIFE.’”  I thought to myself, “DO LIFE,” oh, he must mean you get to know people, develop relationships, etc.  It’s such a large church.

With this in mind, we found the closest small group to our home and started going.  What we found was a wonderful group of people from all different backgrounds, different ages, but we have a common bond--we love Jesus!

At this point in our lives we weren’t sure what we were going to do.  We had just left a church and found ourselves very hurt from the ordeal.  I have a daughter who chose to stay at that church and this concerned us very much, for she told us because we left, both my husband and I and the other three children at home, were all going to hell.  She totally disowned us because we left.  

As a parent this was a very heavy burden to carry--but we found being in this small group, we weren’t alone.  You see, we pray for each other in small groups and right away we asked if everyone would please keep our daughter in their prayers.

My husband especially enjoys the nights we split up; men in one room and women in another; where we pray for each other.  He said it really impressed him how open the men were with one another, not holding back anything.

As the weeks went by and we continued to go, I started hearing comments from my fourteen-year-old daughter.  “I never  met so many young people who are so transparent.  You can really share your heart and not care who knows it because you know they won’t judge you.  But they’ll pray for you and be there for you.”  It thrilled me to hear her saying this and it gave me so much hope that her heart was still tender and open to the Gospel.

On one of those special prayers nights (that my husband loves), Jes Tugwell was sharing about a situation the Lord was dealing with her about and was asking us to pray for her in this area.  I turned to my daughter and asked her a question pertaining to what was spoken and her answer opened my eyes to a lot I wasn’t aware of.  That following Sunday Pastor Ben was preaching.  He mentioned that we as Believers need to be transparent.  It really connected when I saw Jes after the service; I was in tears.  We talked and it truly hit me how important it is in our walks to be transparent before God and others.

Sometimes we sporadically get together, and who can make it, comes.  It was Thanksgiving of last year and just before the Holiday, a group of us met for lunch at Mcalister's.  Well, right there, we did “LIFE!”  We were all talking, then all of a sudden, I started opening up and asked my daughter to forgive me for everything that I allowed to happen at the other church.  I did this in front of everyone, but you know what, it was like a heavy burden was lifted and it really freed me being transparent.  It was awesome!

There were times when we were the last to leave our small group.  Our hosts being so gracious, sharing and caring for us by letting us talk and sort things through.  We found a family here!  People who truly cared.

On January 24, 2014, to our surprise, my husband had a brain aneurysm which burst.  The doctors told us that he had a 3% chance of living.  That night, friends came to support us, six of which were people from our small group.  We were at Duke Hospital and they came all the way from Greenville.  The fight was on and I called on the body of Christ to rally with me and pray for Bryan.  Daily I would talk to so many people about prayers we needed for Bryan that day.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I learned a minute by minute dependence on the Lord.  I know that’s how He desires His children to live.  He truly carried Bryan through.  We saw God’s mercy and grace poured out beyond doctor’s comprehension.  I say all this because, out of the many people who continued to come and keep us encouraged and bless us with food, gifts, and candy, many were from our small group.  We were at Duke till March 16th.  I’m forever thankful to everyone who came and prayed for Bryan.

I remember when we moved Bryan to WakeMed for rehab, we were able to start coming back to small groups, as well as attend church on Sundays.  The first Wednesday small group, we stayed late.  It was Tammy Cone, myself, and April (my daughter).  April started opening up and poured out her heart.  I saw first hand God using Tammy to love and encourage her.  Shortly after this (April 6th to be exact), April and myself were coming home from visiting Bryan.  She told me she got before the Lord and was praying and repented.  She asked Him to forgive her for allowing everything that happened at the other church to come between Him and her.  I was slow to react, but once it sunk in, I started rejoicing.  I soon called Tammy and we rejoiced together!  I told her, that night we stayed late at her house after small group, we “DID LIFE!” just like Pastor Ben always says!  Now one of the young ladies who attends our group meets with April and is discipling her.  April also wants to be baptized!

We came to Integrity needy.  I hate to admit it, but we were. BUT GOD has used our small group in a tremendous way.  I see our family being restored.  Remember how I told you about our daughter who wanted nothing to do with us?  Well, that’s changed.  She’s told us that she wants to be apart of our lives and loves us very much.

The relationships that we have developed, along with the genuine transparency, the love we have for each other are all apart of being in a small group.

I truly desire to give back and extend to others the love that is shown toward us.  I’m forever thankful for our small group and thank God for each and every person in it.

Why I Love Small Group | Eric Holberton

main image

Moving to a new city can be intimidating. Even for the most outgoing person, there is an inescapable sense of trepidation that you feel when you walk into a room full of unfamiliar faces. I had only been able to call Greenville home for less than 24 hours when I first showed up to Integrity Church and instinctively I was fearful of that which was foreign to me. 

I had orientation for graduate school starting the following day and the only other time I had even been to Greenville was briefly for the interview almost a year prior. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure where ECU’s main campus was at the time. Regardless, Greenville was going to be my new home, and so I reckoned I should start looking for a church home also. I was moving from Clemson, SC where I had been the four previous years. While there, I had been a member of a healthy local church, with a great body of believers and strong leaders. Nearly all my close friends were members at this church. But as graduation loomed, I knew all of that was about to disappear and I was doubtful I’d be able to find that again. Fortunately, and as a testament to Integrity Church, I was wrong.

That first Sunday, I was introduced to several of the small group leaders as they strolled in for Sunday worship. All the leaders I met seemed normal enough, but not knowing what I’d find, I decided to try out a different one each evening that first week. This way, I was able to get a better feel of the unique dynamics of each small group. After a few weeks of small group hopping, I settled on the Thursday evening gathering held at the Eiban home. 

In many ways, the past year has been one of the hardest periods of my life. School was daunting, familiarity was scarce, and most of my emotions had me missing all that I had left in Clemson. Though I initially attended the Eiban small group somewhat regularly, I didn’t take it seriously. I tried to stay minimally involved, fearing that if I did more, I might be made more uncomfortable or even challenged to change who I was. Although I never doubted the truth of the Gospel, I started to isolate my everyday life, from my “church” life. That is a dangerous life to live! It wasn’t until I realized that if I was to take seriously our church’s mission “…to mature and multiply believers to leave a gospel legacy” then I needed to stop ignoring one of God’s greatest tools in that mission: His people.

If we are to grow in Christ, we are to do so in His body, the Church, as shown to us in Ephesians 4:15-16 (and many other places throughout his Word). With this in mind, I sought to be more involved here and practically, that was best accomplished through our small group. Being able to embrace the role of a small group here at Integrity Church has turned out to be one of the most important and formative things done for my faith. Through its unique place within the structure of our church, small groups provide opportunities not otherwise available through merely attending Sunday morning worship. For example, I have had chances to be discipled. Our small group is composed of people from all age groups and stages of life. It is this diversity that makes it possible to build relationships both with those who are more mature and those who may be younger in the faith, facilitating exactly the type of disciple-making relationships we see depicted in the Bible (2 Timothy 2:2)

Often the term “discipleship” is used ambiguously to illustrate any time spent between believers outside of normal church hours. However, in my experience, discipleship is more reflective of the ongoing relationships that we build with believers, rather than a description of any one particular activity. It is not simply hanging out on the weekends with a friend from small group, or a little extra time studying the Bible at a coffee shop. Although discipleship can certainly include those activities, it necessitates the faithful willingness of Christian brothers and sisters to live a life dependent on one another and ultimately Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25). The Gospel is a humbling declaration of ineptness, and so too is this modeled in a community of discipleship. Regardless of our age, at no point in our walk with Christ, are we too mature, wise, or righteous to not benefit from sanctifying and edifying work of a disciple, mentor and friend! Jesus, the ultimate discipler, was more than a scholar and teacher. He befriended his followers, demonstrating to each how to live out the scriptures along their way. And as Christ did, so also have my disciplers shown me.

It is precisely these relationships that have made my time with a small group here at Integrity so impactful. Beyond just a weekly bible study, I’ve met a tremendous group of people, and been provided countless nights of great fun, fellowship (and of course food) that continually shape and direct my life.

12345678910 ... 2829