“Jesus is powerfully attracted by the love and unity of His disciples. . . “
Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer
One of my favorite things in the world is to see women connect and encourage each other. I love sitting back and watching them exchange hugs at church, grab a sister’s hand, and offer a prayer. I believe that Jesus loves this, too. He promised us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Our unity and love draws His attention and He joins us. How amazing is that?
Lately, I have had the worlds greatest seat for watching this happen at (in)courage through our new community groups. Last month we shared our vision of going beyond the blog post and connecting in smaller communities with like-minded women. We had over 1600 women join 38 groups. We watched them connect in a very real way through online communities. It has been beautiful to watch real needs for community being met. I asked two of the amazing women who lead our groups, to share a little bit about what has happened in their communities. We call them (in)couragers and I think you will see why:
When the opportunity came up to serve as an (in)courager, my heart was immediately drawn to ministry wives. I have been serving by my husband’s side for the past 15 years- 10 in youth ministry, 4 in an associate pastor role and this past year my husband has served as a senior pastor. We have been blessed in these years with accountability partners, mentors, encouragers, confidantes and life long friends. But we have also experienced the most heart wrenching seasons of our lives. Many ministry families struggle with burn out and I understand this. Having the opportunity to encourage other sisters on this same journey has been an incredible blessing for me- and an unexpected one. It is beautiful to see how God is taking my broken pieces and using them to bring glory to Himself. As our group encourages one another, I am continually amazed. I wish that I had a group like this when I started in ministry. This path can be so lonely and isolating, because in our desire to glorify God, we often feel that we must keep our hurts and our struggles to ourselves. Having a safe place to share these hurts and struggles has been a beautiful blessing!
(in)Able is a group for mammas of kids with special needs. We currently rock 127 members, with more coming every day. I stood there the first day… waiting, unsure exactly of my role as co-leader. Kaylee and I are mammas with our own baggage. What would we bring to this group? Would we be what they need?
And then they came… pouring in like rain. Those mammas just walked right in and made themselves at home. Kaylee and I stood there and held the doors open to the Facebook group and just let them stream in. Mammas would check in, look around for a minute, and then launch into community with the fierce joy of having, for once, been INVITED and EXPECTED. They dug in started introducing themselves, using language only we fellow Special Needs mammas would understand. They posted pictures of their families, their kids, their service dogs. And we all cheered and cried and laughed for each other. Because we had found mothers who were walking the same, lonely, scary, bumpy road.
We were instantly connected.
Every once in awhile, Kaylee and I head back to the front doors and make sure they’re still propped wide open. We’ll check in on old stories, encourage with a verse, or pray out loud. But this group is a church, deep and wide. Communion happens at all hours. We’re just the greeters.
And blessed to be so.
Our first (in)courage community groups session ends next week. But no worries, we will open the doors wide again in February for round two. How could we not?
Q: Were you a part of an (in)courage community group? We’d love to hear your story too. Leave a comment and tell us what you loved about your group.