In the early nineties, I was hiking in California with some friends and I was amazed by all of the tree roots that where crawling across the forest floor. Being a country boy from Indiana, this was all new to me. In my mind, it looked like something out of a scary movie where the trees came alive. One of the guys on our team was an avid hiker and loved the parks in Cali. I asked him what was up with these crazy roots. He said that some tree roots stay close to the top of the soil because that is where the water and nutrients are. I then asked how they keep from falling over. He laughed and said they were all connected. Instead of going super deep like the trees I was used to, the roots spread out and found other roots to attach to. When the winds come, they hold each other up.

It wasn't until years later that I appreciated that adventure among the tall timbers with my buddies. I was at a point in my spiritual walk where I struggled to see God at work in my life and felt alone even though my wife and I were active in our church. We both served on Sundays and helped with a program called Awana but still struggled to feel connected or a part of the body. I shared my concerns with a man who I saw as a solid, mature Christian who also attended the church. He stated he felt the same way until he joined a small group. To be honest, I had no idea what a small group was. In fact, when I found out what one was, I didn't want to be a part of one. I dreaded going to some strangers’ home and the thought of answering questions about the Bible or even worse sharing my feelings with anyone, let alone people I didn't know. Believe it or not, I was petrified just thinking about it.

You would think in a church of two thousand attenders that it would take a while for news to travel to the right people, but that was not the case. Three days later, I was contacted by a guy who invited Lea and I to their small group. I went with the intention of trying it once and then calling it quits. But that would not be the case. In our first meeting, we were taken in, loved and cared for in a way we had never experienced. We developed amazing friendships and matured in our faith.

One night Tim, our leader, opened our time with Colossians 2:6-7 that states, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” That night, I shared my root story with my small group, and at that moment, I realized that God had been guiding my steps. Just like those trees, the people in my group had grown close enough that we supported each other in the storms of life. We were rooted in the Word and being built up in Him by our gathering together. In return, we were so grateful for all He was doing.

This is the reason I love Life Groups. Because they can be life-changing. How are your roots? Do you have other people in your life helping support you or are you trying to do it on your own? My hope is that if you are reading this you are connected at Gateway. Life Groups are a vital part of achieving that in a church our size. If you are in a group, I pray you are in the Word and you are cared for. If you're not, please let me know. I don't want you to miss out on what it means to be a part of a small group of people who are going to encourage, support and even challenge you as you strive to be more like Christ.