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Building a Village of Love and Support

Building a Village of Love and Support

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, Madison Lloyd, about her experience. 

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

I decided to say yes to being in a small group because I wanted friends! I was working full-time at the Amelia library and didn’t have many opportunities to meet other people. I also found it kind of tough to really get to know people and find community at church (we were meeting in Amelia High School) due to the fast pace of the “move in move out” nature of a mobile campus. I was really looking for friendship in my life, and I hoped that joining a small group would help me find that. 

For a while, it was just three of us who met together. Eventually we extended an offer to a few other people and gained some more members. We were a girls-only small group that went through a lot of different seasons together, beginning with the young twenties “sometimes-life-sucks-and-is-hard” period. We became friends as we navigated life together through some challenging times. 

After a couple of years, that group dissolved; I found a Powhatan Campus group that had a great mixture of people in different ages and stages of life –  some who were single, some married, and some couples with kids. I was just coming on board as full-time staff at PCC and there were some other staff members in the group who could help me navigate that transition. Having the balance of learning how to be a leader, but also switching hats to participate in small group was a really great experience for me. 

I now have a village, support, and friendship connections that I wouldn’t have otherwise since I’m pretty introverted. I have a really hard time navigating small talk with people, so having a guided plan* for conversation initially made me feel more confident going into the group. Over time, we’ve all gotten to know each other really well and become close friends. I trust them. 

What do you love about your small group?

In this season of life, the thing I love most about small group is getting to see my friends grow up. This is pretty specific to the young adult crowd, but there’s a lot that can happen pretty quickly for people in their early to mid-20s. I’ve known most of the people in my group for three or more years now and getting to witness them start dating, get engaged, get married, have kids, and buy houses is something I’m really enjoying. Seeing my friends progress in life and also have the opportunity to help them, show up for them, and be there for them is amazing. We trust each other with the tough things in our lives and hold each other accountable. I have this village that I’ve never really had before. I finally feel like I’m in a deeply knit community, and I love it.

Instead of keeping in touch through a group text, we decided to form a Discord group. Discord gives us the ability to check in on each other throughout the week through voice, video or text messages and also provides us with a space for prayer requests, a space to share the music we’re listening to and an easy way to check in and share about what’s going on in our lives. It gives us the opportunity to go beyond the small group lesson and get to know each other on an even more personal level. 

I’ve found that participating in small group also helps to solidify the things I’m learning at church on Sundays because of the repetition. I hear the message on Sunday morning, have some time to process everything, and then get to process it with other people during our small group time. It really helps to strengthen my faith and internalize those lessons. 

What have you learned from your experience in small group?

Being in a small group has helped me get comfortable with deep friendships with lots of different kinds of people. It’s also helped me to stop feeling guilty about where I am on my spiritual journey because I’m able to witness other people’s paths up close. Through giving my friends patience and grace, I’m better able to let go of nagging self-doubt and give myself my own patience, grace and a greater sense of freedom in taking things at my own pace. 

I’ve also learned how important it is to surround yourself with good people. I was homeschooled as a kid, and I’ve always worked at very small jobs without a lot of coworkers. Because of that, until this small group iteration that I’m a part of, I always sort of felt like I was in a bubble. Now, I get to be surrounded by people that I know think differently than I do, and I’ve learned how to let them make me better and also offer my perspective to help make them better sometimes too. 

I’ve had some really in-depth conversations with one of my close friends in the group about how blessed we are to be surrounded by such amazing people, and how never in a million years would we have thought that we would be able to help create this community around us. It’s amazing to be involved and feel so loved and accepted. She and I both struggle with anxiety and have been able to be there for each other in very specific, beneficial ways. Through small group, we’ve gotten to know each other well enough to be able to care for and lift each other up at the right time and in the right way. Having that support system is so great, but it can be so hard to find sometimes.

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

Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, joining a small group is definitely worth it. If you give it time, intentionality and priority, you’ll become more comfortable with the people you’re interacting with and get to know them. Once you do, it’s 100% worth it to have a village around you. 

If you’ve had a previous small group experience that wasn’t what you were expecting or looking for or needing at the time, try again! When I first got into a small group, I thought I needed to be with people who were in the same season as me. But being in a group with people who are older and younger than me, people with children and at different stages of life, ended up being so good for me. I’ve been able to challenge myself in being around people that I was even less familiar with and even more worried about being able to relate well to. So giving it another try was worth it for me, and can be for you, too. When it comes to building a village of love, kindness and support, small group is a great place to start. 

*For small group guides and resources, check out our website here.

For more information about small groups at PCC, click here.

Categories: Relationships  Self  

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