Gather | Devotion #1: To Go or Not to Go?
Pat Bedell | Special Projects
When I think about what “gather” means to me, I think about seeing my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I think about making memories and enjoying fellowship. I think about loving their kids as my own and sharpening my biblical knowledge to fight against Satan. I think about having the opportunity to bless someone, but in the end, I am the one who is blessed. But that was not always the case.
I lived in Saginaw for ten years and was part of a great church. I was married in that church. I never really had much of an issue attending on Sunday mornings and the occasional Wednesday night worship service once a month. Outside of those normal gathering times, I did not want much to do with the people of the church. I had my circle of friends, and I did not want to subject myself to the growth communities the church had to offer.
It was about four years ago that I moved to Fenton and started a new journey with my wife in this area. We had been looking for a new church to attend and came across The River. We had our speculations but the message was raw, and you could feel God stir something up in your soul every time that you attended. It was not long after that that we made The River our home church and began attending weekly.
At first, we were blown away by the size of the gatherings. There were hundreds and hundreds of people if not a thousand people there, and it was quite hard to make new friends. It was a few years down the road, my wife asked me about joining a growth community. I was immediately skeptical of the idea, but at this point in our lives, we did not have many friends in the area, and the church was trying to push us out of our comfort zone. They were successful.
My wife and I have been a part of a growth community now for two years and not only has it been a huge blessing in our lives, more importantly, it is what God commands us to do.
1 Corinthians 14:26 says, “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
Doing the study each week with my wife helps us learn about God but also learn about one another. Coming to the weekly growth community, everyone chips in their perspective on the study and brings a whole new realm of knowledge to the table.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 adds, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Everyone in the growth community could use some prayer. Everyone has their struggles and their battles that they are experiencing. It is always a great feeling knowing that you have brothers and sisters in Christ fighting and praying for you during the most difficult times.
Hebrews 10:25 summarizes it, “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.”
This was one of the hardest habits for me to break. Meeting with people I did not care to know and doing a Bible study with them was not my idea of fun. But now, even missing a week with these “people” is heartbreaking. Now it is a habit of mine to always meet with and encourage all of my fellow believers.
Gathering for the first time in our growth community was intimidating at first, but the hospitality of the hosts of the growth communities makes meeting people and sharing your story less intimidating. Since joining, strangers have become friends, and friends have become family. I could not imagine not being part of one now. More importantly, my wife and I have become stronger followers of God and have truly been blessed by those around us.