“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Intentional community has always been one of the many things that’s personally drawn me to church. Especially as an adult. Sure, I’ve had close groups of intentional friendships outside of the church. Even really great, strong Christian friendships. So what was so different about gathering with a group, often a small group, of people who attended the same church as me? I’ve always felt like I belonged at these types of gatherings, and, through them, I’ve always been challenged and/or held accountable to think about God and His world more deeply. Whether it was our first small group experience doing marriage studies as a young couple in Chicago, breaking bread weekly over discussions on this week’s sermon in our current neighborhood in Grand Rapids, or now the City Group being held in our home, the relationships we’ve built and the deep conversations we’ve had (and continue to have) not only help me think more deeply about my faith but help me form a regular rhythm of living it out.
For City Chapel, City Groups are all about everyday people working to discern our next faithful steps. They are designed to be flexible. City Chapel leadership recognizes that one type doesn’t fit all, so City Groups are designed to simply be a time to gather regularly throughout the week to wonder about God’s call in our lives today. What that looks like could be many different things. It might be gathering at a coffee shop together to discuss this week’s sermon. It might mean volunteering every month at one of our partner organizations in Grand Rapids. It might mean sharing your testimonies and discussing podcasts together. It might mean simply breaking bread and discussing the ways you saw God at work in your lives this week.
City Groups usually have a leader(s), but there is also flexibility in what that leadership looks like. For some groups, the leaders serve solely as a host and together the group decides what direction they will take. Other groups will have very defined leaders who will help guide discussions and have a set agenda for each meeting. There is no right or wrong way to do this. That’s the beauty of it. Each leader has the freedom to lead with whatever style fits best for their group.
Still not sure what this City Group stuff is all about? Check out these quotes from two current City Group leaders:
“My wife Rachel and I were motivated to form a City Group after being involved similarly at our former church (we moved from Nashville, TN in 2018). These opportunities are a great way to build community outside of the church walls and to be able to support each other to a different degree. Rachel and I are one of three couples getting together in our not-so-well-known neighborhood of South East End. Right now we meet every other week on Tuesday evenings at our house on Colorado Ave from 8pm-9:30ish. We currently are reading through a small (literally, really small) book called "Silence, Joy” which is a collection of works by the Trappist Monk and mystic Thomas Merton. We chose this book as a group because we were intrigued by the practice of pursuing God in silence and seeking joy in all things -- specifically coming off the busy holiday season and during the mid-winter. Although we are going through a book together right now, I don't believe this will always be the case. We also recently attended a concert together as a group, which more so reflects our current group's affinity for art rather than a connection with Merton. However, I believe Merton would have approved. If you are interested in joining us, please feel to reach out!” --Matt Clark, City Group Leader
"For us, our City Group exists as a place for open, honest, and raw conversations. On any given Sunday evening, we might laugh or cry or probably both. As a group, we love great food and drinks as well as being entertained by my wife, Kelli, and I's daughter Jade and our dog Zoey. Through the first few weeks, we've spent some time getting to know each other better by sharing our stories of how we've arrived at this point in our lives. Eventually, we may navigate together through podcasts or a book, but for now, we are enjoying each other's company and the safety our budding community has brought us." -- James Gilmore
In my experience, the things our group has learned about each other and about how God has worked through each of our stories to bring us where we all are today has been a really cool opportunity. I already have the feeling that anyone in our group would be there for me and my family if we ever needed them. The best part about being in an intentional community where everyone belongs is that there is space for trust and respect to grow and, in return, space for hard, challenging conversations to take place. City Groups are designed to be a place for you to experience growth, love, acceptance, and the overwhelming presence of God through fellow City Chapel folks, and even those who might not call City Chapel home, throughout the week.
Whether you’re ready to join a City Group, start a group of your own, or have a desire to learn more, know that City Groups can be whatever form of deep community you desire them to be. If you’re at all interested in being involved in a City Group, please fill out this form. Pastor Anna would love to connect you to an intentional community within City Chapel!
Written by Kelli Gilmore