Last month, I attended the Re-Group conference in Atlanta. It’s a conference designed to help equip and improve group culture, community and connection in churches. One of my favorite quotes from that time of learning came during the main session when Andy Stanley shared how people will often meet him and tell him that they visited his church one Sunday. When this happens, he wants to correct them and say: “No, you didn’t, you came to one of our worship services and heard a message; the church is what happens in and through small groups the rest of the week.”
I thought about this conference again after revisiting some words I wrote last year.
I am the bread of life. These words in scripture have taken on a deeper meaning since I’ve started looking more actively for God’s hand working in me, around me, and through me. His desire is to sustain us every step of the way. It was never His design that we simply meet with Him exclusively on a Sunday morning, or for 15 minutes every day during the week, or 30 seconds before eating our evening meal when we bow our head for a quick prayer of thanks.
“We worship a God transcendent and immanent, other and intimate, high and lifted up yet closer than our own breath.”- Drew Dyck
I am the bread of life. Can you imagine becoming stronger or healthier if we only “ate” on Sunday morning or 15 minutes first thing in the morning? I tend to see the daily bread God says is available to us more like those refueling stations along a marathon route rather than a once a day visit to an all you can eat buffet. Ever notice how after eating a big meal you feel certain you won’t be hungry again until next Tuesday? But then, three hours later, you find yourself making a turkey sandwich and grabbing some chips out of the cupboard. This is why God’s daily bread is more beneficial to us when we remember to nibble on His provisions as we journey along. Every new day there is fresh manna along our path. Yet we need actively engaged eyes and a willing heart to recognize this manna and pick these provisions up.
God longs to nourish us and fill us up as we move further up the path, so we move forward with hearts and minds willing to receive.
After rereading these words and thinking about the comment that Andy Stanley made, I had this thought.
Community is not sustainable at an all-you-can-eat-once-a-week buffet. Community is sustained at the watering stations along the running route. That’s where we will find some much-needed provisions. Could you imagine running a marathon without watering and refueling stations? So why do we some times think we can get through this marathon called life without these pit stops?
We need places as we journey along where we receive nourishment and encouragement from others. We need folks in our lives who see us limping and are willing to help tend to our blisters.
Refueling stations: We need them for ourselves AND we need to be this place for others. This is where we will find provisions. This is where we will receive manna for the marathon!
Hmm…maybe we should change the name of small groups to refueling stations?? 😉