The Columns – January

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Joining others on the Journey and Pursuit of Jesus
My first encounter with connect groups was 14 years ago. I was a freshman in college and the campus ministry I was part of was primarily built upon relationships through connect group ministry. I loved my college ministry because there were always people to hang out with and always things to do. I became a semi-pro at ping pong and foosball (you are welcome to come up to the church and challenge me in either at any time). I signed up for a connect group, not because I thought I needed one, but because everyone was doing it, kind of following the crowd. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

My faith had always been a singular adventure. It was up to me in my own life to walk through my journey of Faith. And I had been largely unsuccessful at it. I had become a Christian only the year previously, but I really never took any of God’s commands too realistically. I just kind of kept living life the same way I had before I became a Christian. I think this was partially because I didn’t really understand what it meant to live in surrender to God and partially because what I did understand I didn’t really want to do. God was convenient, and I liked Him that way.

So I walked into my first connect group encounter expecting some fun fellowship time and maybe a meal, and I got what I was expecting, at first. But as the night progressed, I started to realize that these people were serious about Jesus. As we began to read through the bible together, I saw people struggling with the words of Jesus. I saw people wrestling through what it would look like to actually follow Him. I think in retrospect I should have pulled away, the warning lights were going off, “This is all getting a little too real,” but I couldn’t. As I stated before, I had become a Christian; deep down God had my heart, and now I had others around me who were also interested in discovering what that meant. I left that evening with a zest and curiosity for what the next week held.

Next week’s meeting went largely as the previous one had, and I noticed myself not only drawn closer to God but also closer to these individuals. It was an intoxicating process. Something I never realized I wanted was developing before my eyes. I had a community; a pocket of friends who were on the same path as I was. They weren’t perfect, they didn’t know everything or do everything right, but we were all fixing our aim toward God together. We were all learning what it was to live in a pursuit of Jesus and when you have companions on that journey, it makes it all the more real.

The year progressed, and by the end of it, I had discovered something I had not known before. This idea of brothers and sisters in Christ was all of a sudden real. It wasn’t words that I read about in the bible or jargon used in the church to conjure ideas of belonging. It was actually people who knew me well enough to consider me their brother. It was actually people who I knew well enough to consider brothers and sisters. Since then I have been part of dozens of different connect group communities. And while all of them are different, maintaining a personality and function all to their own, I can’t help but see the life that I have today is largely because I discovered community. I found out what it means to belong to the body of Christ. And now that I know, I don’t think I can ever go back to my singular Christian life.

If you’re interested in joining others on this journey and pursuit of Jesus, please call me or email me and I’ll help you get involved.

ERIK RASMUSSEN • Director of Connect Groups/Singles/Counseling • erasmussen@fumcshreveport.org • 318.424.7771

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