Our Blog

Filter By:

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.

Why I Love Small Group | The Motters

main image

First and foremost what small group means to us is being in community with other believers. It’s one of those things that can be really hard to understand until you are actively doing it. Before we started going to small group we had no idea how great the need for it was in our lives. Going to church on Sunday is wonderful and you do get to know people there; but in small groups meeting during the week you really get the opportunity to know people better and deeper. It's also more than just one day a week, it's every day and it truly is doing life with people. It is an extension of what we experience at church on Sunday morning. Those people in your small group become your family.

During small group we really have the chance to dive deep in the sermon and you get to understand the word of God even better, and ask any questions. There may be times during the sermon at church on Sunday morning that we need clarification on, and you can get that in small groups. You really get to discuss what the sermon was about, and get a much greater understanding of what the gospel is. 

Another great thing about small groups is accountability. The word of God calls us to confess our sins to other believers which is something that can be really hard to do; but knowing that there is scheduled time devoted specifically to accountability not only makes you more aware of your sins but gives you the chance to really confess them. Accountability is a time where you can share your celebrations and your struggles. It’s also helpful to see that there are other people, people you know and are friends with that go through the same thing that you go through. Through the relationships that are built it’s so easy to see that you are not alone going through troubles. It is easy to see that when we confess our sins to each other, through keeping our friends accountable we keep ourselves accountable too. It helps you feel less lonely to know that you can go to someone at any time with any issue you are working through.

Something else really good about small groups, is you really get to understand the church better, and if there is something you want to volunteer for, whether it be for the church or for the community you get to do that through small groups. We have served at a few places in the community with our small group, and getting to do that has been very humbling for us. Getting to serve others that need it is a wonderful thing and getting to do that with friends is really nice.

Last year, we were personally served so well, and it made us feel so loved. Megan got really sick and it was the absolute hardest time in our lives. We needed prayer more than anything, and people would text and call us all the time and encourage us and prayed for us and the support we felt was indescribable. God worked in us constantly and having people by our side no matter what through the hardest time in our lives meant more to us than we can say. We not only received prayer, but love and support in other tangible ways too. Different people from church would come and sit with Megan, bring us meals, and it made us feel so loved. Adam received guidance from some of the guys and having those relationships that he could turn to meant a lot. The entire church was a great support during that time, and the relationships that were built through small groups were wonderful. 

Another great thing, for us, is having other married couples to look to for guidance. Our marriage has grown and strengthened through our ability to work through any issues we may have with other married people. There are times where we are just talking to others that may go through the same things that all we are going through or have gone through. There also times we seek advice for something another couple may have gone through, and fortunately there are also times when we can also provide advice. We have also learned through example of other married couples how to pray for one another. We saw, and continue to see what that really looks like. That is something that we admit to each other that we didn’t really do before, and we see what it looks like to have a marriage where you are praying for your spouse, and it has been wonderful for our marriage. We can go to others in our small group and talk about any disagreements we may have and knowing people will help you and not judge is very encouraging.

Ultimately joining a small group was one of the best things that we have done, for our prayer life, our marriage, and really cultivating our relationship with the Lord. The people we share small group with are truly our family.

12345678910 ... 2728