The church has become a master at niche marketing. From the kind of music style you want in your worship service, to whether you prefer a small church or large. There are also things like Stephen Ministries, a ministry designed to train people to be good “helpers”, for lack of a better word, in coming alongside a person to help them through a period of grief.
If you want a small group experience there is one for almost any place you are at in your “spiritual journey”. For instance, some churches have “seeker” small groups, new believer small groups, high school small groups, single adult small groups, men’s groups, women’s group, recovery groups, motor cycle groups, MOPS, and “young at heart” groups. One of these options is most likely available to you. If I have left any group out that you attend or know about, I apologize.
For the first time in my life I am doing something different. I am a part of a diverse small group. I don’t mean that in the ethnic sense of diversity. I mean that as it relates to ages and stages in our walks of life. This diversity consists of my wife and I being in our early thirties. Another couple in their forties, while another in their fifties. Recently I had coffee with the guys from this group and found myself having the time of my life.
Seated on the deck of a quaint coffee house while sipping on coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos, we talked about faith, family, and business. As a man in my thirties, I am in a place where they have once been, and perhaps what binds us together is we each have a vision of who we want to be. We reflected on where we have been, what we have learned, and dream about where we want to go. One of the great benefits of these relationships is the wisdom that is to be gained if one is willing to listen.
Both men have been married to their wives for a number of years, have families, and are successful leaders in their respective businesses. One is a seasoned veteran in his walk with Christ, the other developing to maturity. Both men are seeking to live out their faith in Christ. These men are not mentors to me, nor discipling me. They are more like role models; people who I respect, and whose wisdom I find valuable.
Frequently in our church circles we want to be like “the birds of the feather that flock together”, and there is value in that approach, but sometimes I wonder if we can be missing out on something when we do not expand our circle of friends outside our “group”. There are plenty of young boys and men in churches who need Godly role models. The same can be said of women.
As much as I enjoy and seek out commonality amongst people of my own age, I have seen the benefit in my life of including some relationships into my circle of friends those older than me. Such people help to bring wisdom, experience, and knowledge to my life that I may not receive from peers within my “group”.