Amy Hafner, GFC South Tampa
I can’t believe our fall semester is almost upon us. If I haven’t met you yet, my name is Amy Hafner, and it is my humble pleasure to serve as Women’s Ministry Director here at GFC Beautiful. Only by the grace of God did I get here and get to do what I do. Our team has been working hard this summer, meeting with campuses, having conversations, and creating content that we pray will love you well, challenge you, and help you to connect relationally and grow spiritually.
We have seven campuses, and all seven will be hosting Beautiful Monday Nights, our large group environment aimed at welcoming and making space for everyone. I want to personally invite you to Beautiful Monday Nights or any of our different small groups – Beautiful Moms, Beautiful Single Moms, Beautiful Mornings, Beautiful Neighborhood, and Beautiful Online, just to name a few. We want to encourage you to join groups that meet on campus, in homes, or online!
I am incredibly passionate about groups because in a community centered around Jesus, I have been encouraged, transformed, and accepted, and that is my prayer for you this year.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
Groups (living in community) are one of our core values here at Grace Family Church. But, joining a group can sometimes be a little scary, intimidating, and sometimes weird. So, I created a top seven list of tips I have learned along the way (and am still figuring out) to help you get the most out of this semester.
- Show Up
I know this sounds silly, but I find my biggest challenge in having a successful small group is, actually, time. It seems like every Monday, fifteen minutes before I leave home, something happens. Something breaks, someone is crying, and it would be so easy for me to cancel. If you are a leader, pray over your group weekly. If you are new to a group, be committed but also give yourself grace if you miss, it’s ok.
- Be Real
One of the coolest things about groups are that we love when you share the tough stuff. You don’t have to be picture-ready, Pinterest-perfect, or pretend everything is fine when it’s not. You being real helps others to be real. Always share and allow others to share too. This will help your group trust each other.
- Do The Work
Someone once told me, “You get out of a group what you put into it.” We have an opportunity for you to continue the work God is doing in you throughout the week. Beautiful provides a reading plan and S.O.A.R. journal. It will guide you through the Bible and teach you how to study the scripture. Again, you do not have to do this perfectly, but give it a try.
- Challenge Yourself
You may find yourself seeking, questioning, or confessing something as you go through your Bible study. It may be challenging, humbling, and uncomfortable, but I encourage you to lean into it. Talk to someone, connect with your small group leader, coach, coordinator or pastor.
- Build Relationships
Community doesn’t just have to happen on your designated small group night. If you find yourself drawn to someone particular in your group, invite them for coffee or lunch. Meet up at church on Sunday, celebrate birthdays, send hand written-cards, or do a service project together.
Just a quick reminder that your group is filled with imperfect people just like yourself. A comment may be made, a feeling hurt, or an expectation not met. Forgive, forgive, and forgive again. Don’t be scared of uncomfortable conversations, but do them with truth and grace.
- Be Transformed
Growth happens in groups. There is sanctification through sisterhood. At the beginning of every fall semester, I purposely journal about my current situation and struggles. I pray and ask God for wisdom, discernment, strength, and humility. God ALWAYS shows up, not always in the way I’m expecting, but I am grateful for his correction, patience, and never-ending love.