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April 3, 2012

Gaining an Expanded Family

A displaced couple finds true friendship through a small group



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We have more ways to communicate than ever before, but how deep are our relationships? In our newest download, Physical Presence Matters, Seth Widner shares his own story about why physical presence--through small-group meetings--grew to mean so much to him.

After moving from Tennessee to Florida to plant a church, he and his wife were pretty homesick. They were able to stay in touch with friends and family, but they began to lean on their physically present small group. Here's what Seth writes:

About five months into our church plant, we decided to launch our small-group ministry. From our beginning, we planned to be a church of small groups. The time had come to gather potential leaders and start training. Although I had little experience in adult small groups, I believed the ministry would be a good one. As I trained future small-group leaders, I became more enthusiastic about the concept of small groups. My passion for helping people connect in small groups was growing.

Melissa and I agreed to lead a small group, too. We were looking forward to meeting new faces and making some new friendships. Our target would be young married couples without children. Honestly, it was for selfish reasons. We didn't have kids, and I didn't want screaming babies or diapers in our home. Thankfully, we found three couples to invite to our small group, and we decided to meet at a local restaurant for our first meeting.

That first evening was a breath of fresh air. The only thing on the agenda was to enjoy good food and conversations. We had some great talks. We learned that most of the small-group members had moved from other states. So we shared about our old homes, what brought us to Florida, and how the transition was going. It was such a relief to be able to talk to people who felt homesick from time to time! These couples understood what Melissa and I were going through.

Since that first meeting, our small group has been doing life together. We gather regularly for food, fun, fellowship, Bible study, and prayer. No matter what kind of day I'm having, I know that my small group will be there for me. We have laughed, cried, and prayed together. We have discussed God's Word and voiced our questions about life. We have each experienced spiritual growth. And I finally got over my fear of diapers! At this point, most of us have become parents.

Over the years, I've found an interesting connection between my small group and homesickness. As my small-group friendships have grown, my homesickness has diminished. I still miss my family and friends in Tennessee, and I still communicate through technology. From time to time I will enjoy a phone call, send a quick text message, or touch base through Facebook. But my intense homesickness has gone away. Melissa and I have transitioned into our new home in Fernandina Beach.

To read the rest of his article, and to read more on why physical presence matters, check out our newest download.

posted by Amy Jackson on April 3, 2012 8:00 AM

Related Tags: Download excerpt, Family, Friendship, Seth Widner

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