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By: Fr. Chris Harris
You have probably heard in one way or another, that as Christians, we are not intended to walk alone in our faith journey. We are called to be part of a community of believers who love God and love one another. And the first thing that usually comes to mind is Sunday worship. After all, coming together to pray and sing God’s praises, and to be fed in word and sacrament is often seen as the definition of Christian community.
But what if that kind of community is so large, that it can also feel a bit like a “crowd?”
After all, “crowds” are known for our ability to get lost in them. We can be anonymous in them if we choose to. And so crowds can be safe in that way. We can navigate crowds without needing to introduce ourselves or learn anyone’s name. There is little chance that we are going to have a deep conversion in a crowd or reveal something personal or vulnerable. (And that can be a real gift on those days when we really don’t feel like talking to anyone!) Crowds don’t require any commitment. We can come and go as we please, and it’s unlikely anyone will notice or if they do, it’s a good chance they don’t have any ability to contact us or would probably feel too awkward doing so.
And if you doubt me, think about the people who sat near you in church recently. Do you know their names? Do they know yours? What do they know about you? What do you really know about them? Do they know about the test results you’ve been waiting on? Have they been holding your sister in their prayers as she recovers? Did they encourage you about that big project you’ve been working on? When you were out sick, did they call to see how you were doing?
And don’t get me wrong. Crowds have a role in our life of faith — particularly in the way we have organized churches in the modern era. But to me the Sunday crowd is more as a starting point, than an ending point. Crowds can be a vital, safe place to start as you are exploring a church. But they are not where we want to end our journey. The goal of Christian community is to be small enough that we can be seen and known, supported and challenged, cared for and loved.
Jesus had a small group. And if Jesus needed one, so do we!
A small group is a gathering of a few people (3 or more, but maybe no larger than 10 or 12 or so) who meet regularly to reflect on their faith, pray, share their life’s celebrations and struggles, and support and encourage each other. It is a place where you can experience authentic relationships, experience true acceptance, learn from others, and grow in your faith.
Whether you are new to concept or have had many wonderful small group experiences in the past, I invite you to join one at Christ Church Cranbrook! One place to get started in experiencing being part of a smaller group of friends from Christ Church Cranbrook is to join us for “Centered – Living the Way of Jesus” – our Lenten Supper Series beginning Thursday, Feb 22. Click here for more info and to sign up!