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From Strangers to Lifelong Friends

From Strangers to Lifelong Friends

Small Groups are kicking off at PCC! We think everyone – whether you’ve been at PCC for one day or 20 years – can benefit from the experience of community that happens in small groups. We were never meant to do life alone, and in fact, science confirms that consistent, meaningful connection with others has a powerful impact on our well-being. If you’re not sure about signing up, check out this interview with one of our staff members, Hope Swinter, about her experience. 

 

How did you get started with a small group? What made you decide to join one?

My husband, Mike, and I started coming to PCC in 2012. We’re typically not big “joiners” – we’re not the folks who sign up for things where you go mingle with all kinds of people. We really kept mostly to ourselves. I remember sitting in church one day during the “All In” series, and Pastor Brian was saying that if you’re serious about Jesus and serious about faith, there’s more to church than just Sunday mornings. That was when we decided to look into small groups at PCC.

We found an option to attend a weeknight group with free childcare (our kids were five and seven at the time) at the campus. Since we were still so new to church, that option was perfect for us because we were definitely not ready to go meet at someone’s house! The free babysitting was also a huge plus. Frankly, the first few months that we attended, we used to joke that small group night was our date night because we had free babysitting! So that’s how we got in. 

We ended up being put into a group with some really key folks who helped us out along the way. What we found was that we were watching people that were really cool, who we really liked, live out their marriages and see how they related to each other in real time. Up to that point, we had no experience with how to live a Christ-centered life. We hadn’t seen anybody do it – our parents didn’t do it, our friends didn’t do it. So we really started to build relationships and witness Christ-centered lives play out in front of us as we were also reading and learning how to discuss the Bible.

Because we started attending a small group and learned how to be more comfortable living our lives with Christ at the center, over time, we started to think about how we could serve at PCC. Mike plays guitar but at that point, he hadn’t played in 17 years other than just sitting around the house. Someone in our group mentioned that they needed a bass player pretty desperately at another campus, so he decided to go for it and started serving. I ended up getting involved in music at church as well. Small group was the kicking off point to our faith walk, to us serving at church, and so many other things. 

What do you love about your small group?

I love that no matter what’s going on with me – even if it’s a night that I don’t feel like going – God always speaks to me through different members of my group. Sometimes that looks like a person being transparent and sharing something about their story that happens to relate to something I’m going through as well. There are so many ways that God shows up. I love how I’m always surprised – we’ve got such a diverse group with people from all walks of life and experiences, and I always leave with something that helps me.

Our group has been together off and on for about eight years now. I remember us walking into our small group not even feeling comfortable praying out loud, and now we lead worship and play music on Sunday mornings. We went from not knowing anyone to making lasting friendships. The people in our small group are the ones who show up when tragedy happens. We’ve had some people go through life-changing tragedies, we’ve had some emergencies with kids and different things, and everyone just drops what they’re doing and shows up for each other. When small groups function well, that’s what you get – a close-knit community who sticks together.

What have you learned from your small group experience?

I’ve learned that folks who seem different from you really aren’t that much different. We’re all struggling with the same things. I’ve learned that being vulnerable and honest about what you’re going through can sometimes be one of the biggest gifts to other people, and it can also be the thing that helps set you free to move towards the solution that God has for you. Just being willing to be open with people is super powerful.

What would you tell someone who is considering joining a small group?

If you’re thinking about it at all, you need to do it. God shows up when we’re in community with people. For me, it was probably the thing that made the biggest difference in my spiritual journey and my life today. I found my people! I have a community and friends who I know I can count on, who understand what I’m going through and can often guide me and point me back to Christ. That’s what you want. Once you decide to follow Jesus, you need a group of people around you that are trying to do the same thing so you can help each other. And that’s what small group is about. 

For more information about small groups at PCC, check out our website here.

Hear about the importance of groups from Senior Pastor Brian Hughes in his “Get Real” message here.

Categories: Relationships  

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