This post has been co-authored by Jeff and Suanna.
I grew up in a small town church where I knew everyone. When you stay in the same place for the majority of your life you make relationships with people that are strong and you know each other well. Then I got married and moved to Texas where the only people I knew were my husband's family and the church we chose to attend was very large. It was a hard change and sometimes still is hard.
Jeff and I realized that we needed to make ourselves get involved in our church, so we started going to the Young Married Class. We really liked that there were various ages and stages of married couples who attended the class and we quickly made a few friends and signed up for a small group. We also got actively involved in our class greeting on Sunday Mornings and working in different areas of ministry. After a couple years the church was growing and built a new building and the Young Married Life leaders felt that there was a need to change and try to get more people interested in attending our class. So the Young Married Class split into two classes: Young Married Life and Married Life. It was hard to make a new transition as we didn't feel that we really fit into the Young Married Life class because of the evening meeting time and the fact that we already had two or three kids, but we had friends who were now attending that class. We attended the Married Life Class then. This class was mostly made up of those who had been in the Young Married Class, but didn't fit into the new Young Married Life Class. The Married Life class moved around a little and changed some and became a Sunday School class that anyone was welcome to, but much of the teaching was still geared toward married couples or those who had children. During part of this time we volunteered in the children's Sunday School classes to be used in whatever class we were needed in on a week to week basis.
So again we stayed involved. We weren't to sure about what God wanted us to do, but we knew that being involved was a key part of what we needed in attending a large church. One Spring Sunday in 2009, our Pastor announced that we would be doing a special group prayer thing and they wanted people to host one time prayer groups. We signed up. Several local people came to our home that evening for prayer group. We didn't know a single one of them. That was okay though. After we talked with the people who joined us to pray and prayed we told them that we had been thinking about starting a small group and if they were interested in coming back again the next week we would pray again. God wanted us to do that, because the next week all but one of them returned. We met for several weeks to pray and then we asked them if they would be interested in doing a book study. They were and we started studying The Power of Integrity: Building a Life Without Compromise by John MacArthur. We've been meeting with most of those people since then. We've also enjoyed getting to know new people who've joined our group for short times. God has blessed us by allowing us to lead a small group of believers in our town that we join together with for prayer, Bible study, fellowship and encouragement.
After a while the Married Life, Young Married Life, and young singles
classes merged into what is now called Fusion. When this merge took
place Jeff and I didn't feel like this was the right class for us, so we
ended up not attending any class. Sometimes we would help out a Sunday School class, but more often than not we found ourselves just sitting in the lobby during the 11:00 am service. Before the Married life class ended, we would normally attend the 9:00 am service with Kent, Katy and Kaomi and then at a 11:00 take the kids to their classes and then go to the Married life class. After the Fusion class started, the kids still wanted to go to Sunday School and we still wanted them to join us for church (we are very much old school in that respect-we believe that the kids should go to "big church"), so we couldn't just change to going to one service. We thought about maybe trying to find another church, but that didn't really seem to feel like that was what God was wanting us to do. This all might sound odd to some, but you must understand that Denton Bible Church has always intended their members to get involved in small groups during the week. That is why there are only a few adult Sunday classes and only one church service per week.
In October 2010, Jeff and I started thinking and talking about starting a Fellowship and Prayer Sunday School Class that we would also have missionaries come to and share about God's work through their ministries. We realized that we had enough commitments that we couldn't start the ball rolling in that direction until the beginning of the next year. In January of 2011, we heard about a new class that had started called Adult Bible Fellowship. We started attending this class and have enjoyed the teaching, the sharing of prayer needs, the small group breakouts during class, and hearing the missionaries who share what God is doing where He has chosen to have them serve. Another thing we appreciate is the variety of ages and life stages (singles, newlyweds, empty nesters, etc.) that attend Adult Bible Fellowship. We feel that it is important to build relationships with a variety of people as God can give us wisdom and guidance through those who have already been in our stage of life and our hope is that we would be a Godly encouragement to those who are where we have been, as well. This class has met a large portion of our need to stay involved. Though we don't participate in everything that our class plans we enjoy the fellowship and camaraderie that comes from building relationships with other Christians. We would not have that blessing if we didn't get involved in our church.
We thank God that he has given our church a desire to teach the Bible and that there are smaller classes and life groups that we can be involved in that help us have a sense of belonging which can be hard to find in a very large church. We thank God for the vision he has given to the various leaders in our church and that the Bible is the forefront of each ministry. We also encourage each of you to get involved in your churches. Being involved provides many opportunities to build relationships and friendships that help us navigate through our lives, provide us support when we are in need, and give us opportunities to get beyond ourselves and minister to others.