We asked Erin Stalvey to tell us how she became connected to a group at BridgePointe and what the experience has been like. Moving here from Tennessee, being a part of a group became a necessity. She also shares the impact of completing Rooted as a group.
What group are you apart of and how did you become a part of it?
I've been a part of the Vangen group for almost a year now. I started coming to BridgePointe last May after moving to Rhode Island, and knew I wanted to get connected with other people my age. I started serving in the Kids Ministry and loved pouring into the kids, but I also craved a community that could pour into me as well. When I moved to Rhode Island, I left all my friends and family behind in Tennessee, and missed having that deeper connection to other believers. As soon as BridgePointe announced their Groups launch last August, I signed up and counted down the days (with anxiety and excitement) to the first group meeting.
What's it like being part of a group?
Being in a group is like having a spiritual family that I can do life with, both in and out of the church setting. In group, I'm able to express all of my doubts and shortcomings to people who genuinely love me, and am consistently met with grace and encouragement. I feel like I get more out of the Sunday teaching because I get to hear other people's perspectives on it and reflect on how it specifically applies to our personal lives. We celebrate each others successes and go before the Lord in each other’s heartbreak. Being led to this group has been very tangible proof of the Lord's goodness and His desire for us to walk in faith with other believers.
Our home group recently completed Rooted, along with other members of the church who joined our group for the 10- week curriculum. Often in group we would discuss the desire for greater self-discipline in our prayer life or daily devotional, but it was more of an idealistic concept and not something we practiced. Rooted changed that because we were required to read Scripture every day, memorize weekly verses, and carve out time for prayer. It was like a spiritual life boot camp! One benefit I didn't expect to receive from Rooted is that it got our group on the same page in terms of basic theology: what Christianity is, why we believe what we believe, and how we carry out these beliefs. It may sound elementary, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the basic truths that our faith is founded on in order to take on more complex ideologies. Rooted provided a starting point for us to build on, and I think that's something that our group will continue to benefit from as we grow in our understanding of Christ.
What would you say to someone who isn't in a group yet? What would they gain?
Now's the time to jump in! If you've been considering joining a group, there's no better time than the beginning of Groups season when everyone's coming back together after the Summer break. If you haven't considered joining a group, here are a few reasons I would urge you to get plugged in:
1. Spiritual Growth
Groups by nature foster growth, because they provide a launching pad for theological discussion, spiritual wrestling, and examining hard texts. Groups provide accountability and encourage self-discipline in approaching the Word and seeking God daily.
2. Christ-Centered Community
Since moving to Providence, my closest friends are ones that I've made in Group. I see group members several times a week outside of group, and it's such an encouragement to have friends who pray for me and walk alongside me both in and outside of group. I feel like I lead a more Christ-centered lifestyle simply because of the community that I'm surrounded by.
3. Witnessing God's Goodness
Prior to group, I could only see how God was working in my own life. Being in this group has allowed me to see God's power and goodness in other peoples lives too. All of us have different redemption stories, and God continues to reveal Himself to us in different ways. I've witnessed God provide for, heal, and lead people in my home group, and I can better testify to God's grace because of how I've seen Him work in their lives.