Last year, our church started doing small groups in some form or fashion. Originally, the group was a fellowship/prayer group. We started out in the "young adult people" group, but then we ended up splitting into "young adult people" and "young adult people with screaming children." And though Elsie was still just a babe and did not run around screaming, it was bound to happen (and is now my reality), so we ended up with the latter group. It was nice getting together with other parents of small children and just being in fellowship with people in the same stage of life. Those were my friends, my compadres, my sanity-savers. We thoroughly looked forward to that group once a month.
This year, our small groups were reorganized. I suspect this was partially to accommodate the influx of new attendees, but also to narrow the focus of the group. Yes, we fellowship and pray, as before, but we also discuss a designated Bible passage and the sermon that went with it. Instead of monthly, now we meet weekly. Sign-up was not based on stage of life this time, but rather convenience of time and locale. We had to sign up for a group that met on a day when we weren't working with Kaplan/Sylvan, and met at a time that would still get Elsie to bed at a decent hour. It was a toss-up between two groups, who met at the same time on the same day but on opposite sides of town. We chose the group that was closest, e-mailed the groupe leader, and signed up for this group with no knowledge of who was in the group.
And then we got traded.
I'm pretty sure I still have the e-mail that asks if this is okay, and assuring us that the demographics of our new group are similar to the old group. Of course this was okay. We love our group leaders, and as I said before, we only arbitrarily chose a group based on perceived geographic distance. But you know what? The demographics are not the same. No. Where. Near. Had we stayed in our old group we would have been the second oldest there. Now we're the fourth oldest. And honestly, this is just....
When we were first married and we lived in Waco, we started by attending UBC, which is the same church where the Dave Crowder Band leads Sunday morning worship every Sunday that they are not touring. I love David Crowder, don't get me wrong, but the church just didn't feel right to me. The age demographics were just too one-sided. It felt like 99.9% of the attendees were undergraduate students. The only children belonged to the pastor and his wife. The only mature adults were a handful of professors who attended. I was done with college. I desired a population more...heterogenous. I wanted to learn from my elders. This church had very few.
Fast forward 5-7 years. FPCO is very diverse, and has become more so since we first started attending in September (?) 2008. And I think our current small group is such a dynamic reflection of this diversity.
Here's the breakdown of the 17 people:
2 couples old enough to be our parents (not entirely sure about the Zs, but they're at least a decade older than us)
1 single adult female professional (at least a decade older than us)
2 couples with young children (that includes us)
2 younger couples with no children
1 single adult male professional our age, or close to it
1 single adult female graduate student
2 male college sophomores
I particularly like that the two college guys come to our group because there actually is a dedicated college small group and yet they choose to hang out with us old folks (haha). And our grad student is working on a degree in English, but sometimes I wonder why she's not pursuing theology--I am constantly just in awe of her knowledge/interest in the workings/history of the reformed tradition. As I said, we love our leaders and our site hosts. And it's nice to hear from the 5 older people (one a member since birth, two others members for 30+ years, and two others with an international foundation). It's been nice to get to know another young couple from our church (both grad students), and our friendly car guy. In this group, when we have discussions, I feel like I'm the weakest link. Soaking a lot in with not a lot to contribute. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm being challenged, and I'm definitely growing and stretching spiritually in a way that I have not grown or been stretched in a long, long time.
Had we stayed grouped as we were last year, we really would have missed out on this wonderful opportunity, meeting and fellowshipping with these wonderful people, and having honest conversations that cross generational gaps. The Lord is working, and He knows what He's doing.
I still miss my friends from last year's group. We are all busy with our families and our socializing has pretty much been limited to a brief hello as we pick our kids up from the nursery on Sunday mornings. I wish we still had a designated time to get together with our peer group for fellowship and church-building. And with all the new people at church in our same station of life, I feel like I'm missing out on making new friends.
I just miss them.