In our old Homegroup I often used to address my weekly email to “My Homegroup Homies”.* Someone came up with the name one time when we were together and the name stuck.
Now that our new groups are called Connect Groups, that begs the question, “What should we call each other?” I’ve tried “Connect Groupers”. Someone suggested “Connect Crew”. I might try “Connectors” next time. It’s a big decision. I’ll keep you posted.
I recently went through 3 John in my quiet times. There’s a lot packed into those 15 verses. But one thing struck me as I came to the end of it. The final verse. What they call each other.
“Peace be with you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, every one of them.”
(3 John 15)
I never would have thought to describe my church as “the friends”. I mean, we are friends! I love Emmanuel and I love the people who make up Emmanuel. But to call the church “the friends” like this is very striking.
We often talk about Emmanuel as being like a family but perhaps we can get over familiar (excuse the pun) with the family language and it loses it’s impact. After all, Great Auntie Maud is family but you’ve only met her once at your second-cousin’s wedding. But our friends? They’re the people we see a lot because we enjoy their company. We share life together and do fun things. We cry with them and help them when they’re struggling. And not just cos we have to but because we’re friends.
This week in Connect Groups, we’ve thought about the third aim for the groups: Caring For One Another. What difference would it make if we took those people in our group out of the category of ‘church people’ in our minds, and firmly put them in the special box marked ‘friends’? Would we see them more often? Would we invite them round to watch a film? Would we see if they needed anything from the shops? Would we pop round or drop them a text to see if they’re ok? Would we lean our heads together and inexplicably share two milkshakes between all of us? (Well, maybe scrap that last one.)
There are ways we need to care for one another which will be distinctively Christian. We saw that in our Connect Group study in Colossians 3 this week – helping each other be godly, being totally honest, forgiving each other like Christ forgives us, letting the Word dwell among us richly, singing praise together. But at the same time, those relationships shouldn’t look a million miles away from, oh I don’t know… actual normal human relationships!
So whatever it is that friends do, do it with your Connect Group. Do it this week.
QUESTION: Who is it you can’t wait to spend time with? How could you cultivate that in your group?
This is the fifth of a short series of posts about our new Connect Groups. Keep checking back for more.