Community Groups

Community GroupsDo you sometimes feel like you're "going it alone"?  Are you trying to get closer to God but finding yourself in a rut?  The Community Groups at Fellowship are designed to help you grow closer to God by seeking him in the context of a believing community.  God designed us such that our knowledge, growth, and sanctification (the process of becoming more holy) all happen most naturally and effectively when we engage with other people seeking God.  These groups provide a safe place to explore the Christian life, whether you are a life-long follower of Jesus, someone who recently found faith, or even someone who doesn't believe in God at all but who wonders if there is more out there.  As we come together with humble attitudes and open hearts, God will meet us.  The fun and encouragement you receive from the other people there is just a little bonus.  Call it a spiritual door prize that everybody wins.

To see the times and locations, along with contact information, for Community Groups, view our Calendar.  

Short and Sweet

Now if you come to Friday night group you will most likely get a Beca that isn't short and sweet- because I do tend to talk (feel free to chuckle because I am fully aware that I can ramble) and talk honestly.  But what I have found out is Community group is an open space to talk things out. But it is more importantlly a place there the "sweet, Christian mask" is taken off and we see each other as one begger showing another begger where the good bread is.

This past week I was so blessed to be able to spend some extra time with Liz and (after kid duty) Dave, and since that late night fellowship I am just awed because I am so aware of the ties of the Holy Spirit. Different personalities and backgrounds and strength/weaknesses and in the Spirit each one of us builds the other up. My weakness is strengthened by your strength. And the part that brings a big lump in my chest and tears to my eyes is that you love me still, in spite of my weakness.

You have shown Christ to me in a way I wouldn't have seen on a Sunday morning.

Community Group Testimony

So, some people may have heard bits and pieces of this testimony, but I think only one person knows most of it. Last year was probably the hardest year I have had in my short Christian life. And that is saying a lot for those of you who know how (and where) the first five years of my Christian life was.

By the end of last year (2009) I was very close to leaving Fellowship and quite possibly the church life all together. There were only three things that kept me here: my love for Christ, my knowledge of Him, and Pastor Stephen. If any of those three things were not in effect I am quite sure I would not be still going to Fellowship, at the least. Last year started off with my plans on giving my testimony to the congregation. It is a very personal and dicey testimony and was very difficult for me to give. (Now it is available online for any and all to hear under Sermons.) Before I actually gave my testimony I had meetings with the then interim Pastor Jim Benson and one of our Deacons Paul Ragusa. They forewarned me that where my testimony was so personal that there may be some bad reactions to it. They weren't trying to discourage me from doing it just giving me a heads up. My reaction to that was "I don't care what others think, only what God does." That's what I said, but obviously I didn't truly mean it. There were those in the church who I love dearly (not that I don't love you all, but some I've grown real close to) that if they have had a bad reaction it would have hit me hard.

Well, that's what I had thought happened with one of those I had counted as a close dear friend. Before I gave my testimony I had a few people read it that I truly cared about there opinions. One of them had left the church in the beginning of last year and I had emailed it them. Now, we had been conversing back and forth mainly through email since their departure. But, after I had sent them a copy of my testimony, the back and forth emails stopped. At first, I figured this person had become very busy and just didn't have time. But, after receiving nothing in about a month; I sent a second email, jokingly about I hope my testimony didn't scare you away. Still nothing.

So, over the past year, a resentment grew and grew very deep. A few other things happened over the year which just built one upon the other. When the "enemy" strikes, he hits you truly where you live. So, he hit me hard, very hard...through my service to the congregation that I dearly love to do and through the people that I love the most. It was a very hard year. A few weeks ago Pastor Stephen gave a sermon on Forgiveness preaching from Matthew 18. During the sermon all my defenses went up. I came home that night and began a series of email Bible studies with Pastor Johnson.

I had all the Scripture laid out that I wanted to use and I went right on the defense. My contention was that forgiveness should come with conditions. Mainly that the person who sinned against you needs to come and ask for forgiveness before we need to forgive. I know Scripture, sometimes I know it too well. Paul Ragusa once said that (and I am probably going to mess this up) our hearts and minds sometimes can be so wrapped up in our sinful nature that we don't see things clearly, or more appropriately Godly. The way He meant it to be seen. Well, that's what was happening here when I went into my defensive mode on this Bible study. I knew the verses of Scripture I wanted to use, and I used them to my advantage. This study went from that Sunday night until Tuesday afternoon.

During this time, and I don't think it was ever in my mind about the one who I had thought wronged me the beginning of last year, but it came out in the Bible study. Got to love the Holy Spirit; He will make you say things when you don't plan on it. So, once I mentioned it, Pastor Stephen jumped right on it, as he always does. I gave him the opening and he took it. Obviously this was the reason I went on the defensive in the first place. That evening I was going to the Community Group and I had planned on going straight on the defensive there. I had the verses I was going to use laid out and I was going to bring this Bible study up. And I planned on hitting hard. But, it didn't work out that way. When I got there, the Holy Spirit sewed my mouth shut, and I think it was the only time I had gone to the group and had nothing to say. Instead I just sat there and listened to everyone else. I listened to there perspectives on forgiveness (and as you should expect everyone there believed that forgiveness should be unconditional) and how they had people who had hurt them in the church and how they had handled it. Some wrong, some right. And I couldn't believe I sat there and said nothing. But, the conviction of the Holy Spirit was real and it was strong. On the ride home, Rick Trani say, Joel you were awfully quiet tonight is everything alright? I just said I am fine.

When I got home that night I sat down and wrote an apologetic email to the one I had thought wronged me. I apologized for the way I have felt over the past year, and whether I was right or wrong about what I thought it didn't matter. It is not Christlike to feel that way toward anyone. I poured my heart out to them and when I was done the burden that was lifted was amazing. It was truly a powerful freedom I felt.

What the sermon did by putting me on the defensive; the Community Group broke down those barriers and truly helped me to heal through this. They are truly remarkable and can only help us, individually and as a community, to grow in our walk with Christ.

And the real clincher, tonight I finally heard back from the one who I had thought wronged me and as Christ says it best "you have won your brother over."

Community Group Testimony submitted by Joel Smith

I am ashamed to say I have not taken the time to interact with the website and see now what a mistake that was! I have already seen a side of others from our fellowship that does not come out in the Sunday setting. Our community groups allow us to come closer together to one another and ultimately to Christ.

What a huge encouragement it was to read Joel's testimony as to how our community group ministered to him! God really knew what He was doing when He sent Pastor Stephen and Sonia to Fellowship Bible Church, gave them a heart for community groups, and ministers through His children in them.

Praise God!

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