It’s hard to walk into a worship service as a family with young kids. Not only do you (usually) walk in late, but you also need an entire row to accommodate your overflowing diaper bags and toddlers who need room to “stretch their legs” (aka, crawl under the pews to grab stray fruit snacks).
I think that one thing that we can all agree on though is that while it’s worth the effort for young families to get the kids dressed for church and out the door just to hear half the sermon and leave 5 minutes early because of a massive blowout, most young families who attend church come to be fed and encouraged, but often leave feeling defeated and lonely. And what’s worse is that it discourages them so much that they give up coming and promise to start attending church when the kids are older and they get a little easier.
Sound familiar? Because if it does, you aren’t alone.
But since we’re all in the same “raising little people years”, can I share something that has drastically changed the way we connect with people at church?
You might have heart it called different things – Bible Study, Life Groups, Connect Groups, or a Couple’s Bible Study. But it all means the same thing. People getting together in one another’s houses and doing life together.
It almost always includes dessert.
Not just trust in one another, but trust in the One Who called us together for His purpose and for our growth in Him.
This isn’t a bunch of people sitting around in a dimly lit room and praying in silence. For us, this is 10 adults sitting on couches and on the floor with Bibles open and hearts yearning for truth and it’s 12 kids flinging Goldfish like confetti, running room to room, and constantly being told to, “Go back into the bedroom and play. Just give us five more minutes.” It’s being honest when we don’t understand something that scripture says and being even more honest when we struggle with how it convicts us. It’s holding one another when life gets hard and we don’t know how we can face another day and jumping up and down when we see the victories that we’ve prayed about for so long together become reality. It’s bearing one another’s burdens and committing to pray for and with them during the week. It’s looking across the room and saying, “What?” when you see your friend’s face because you know one another so well that you know they have something burning on their heart they need to share. And it’s looking across the room again and seeing someone understanding scripture for the very first time.
And it’s a pile of poopy diapers laying outside the front door. Because that’s what life looks like right now for these tired adults: open Bibles, interrupted conversations about Jesus, and lots and lots of poopy diapers. Seeking Him and growing in His truth.
This is community the way that God intended it to be.
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 1-:24-25
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Psalm 133:1
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Biblical community doesn’t always just have to happen in church. For those of us with little kids, church is absolutely necessary (and exhausting). But growing together in one another’s homes and seeking God’s Word in between calming squabbles and poopy diapers makes the body of Christ a little less lonely and a lot more authentic.