The word ‘uncertain’ has managed to become a key part of every final year students’ vocabulary in the last few weeks, and understandably so. With thousands of students’ university experiences coming to an abrupt end in recent weeks, finalists are leaving with more questions than answers.
However, the recent turn of events did not come as a surprise to God, as Naomi, a recent graduate from Durham University reflects on.
“It’s been easy to doubt if my plan was the same as God’s, but God knew this virus was coming.”
Finding a church at university was always a priority for Naomi, but since moving back home to be with her parents, she’s been faced with the challenge of deciding where to invest for this season.
"I've sometimes hesitated to be fully involved with my home church when I'm only attending for a short season, but our need for connection at this time has reminded me to be fully invested."
Local churches have always been a catalyst for mission and small groups are the space where iron sharpens iron. When Naomi moved back home, she decided to commit to an online small group at her home church, which although was filled with new, unfamiliar faces, provided a space for honesty and vulnerability from day one.
"Online small groups are great for getting to know how people are actually doing. Because of the challenges of lockdown, everyone comes together with more compassion and empathy for one another, and that changes people’s attitudes."
Online small groups, although different to what we may be used to, provide an accessible way for all to try church in this season. Naomi noticed that week after week, her small group would increase in size as it helped people to feel more connected.
“Online small groups require less effort, making them easier to be a part of. We’ve seen people on the fringes coming more committed because they recognise the need for community.”
Now on her parents’ street in Hertfordshire, Naomi has been inspired to think through how she can invite others into experiencing community. She created a group chat for neighbours, which has since been used to share shopping requests, books, houseplants, and even organise an afternoon meet-up where 10 households brought their chairs outside to drink tea whilst socially distancing.
For Naomi, her plans for this year remain uncertain, but through the support of her small group in her local church, she is determined to look outwards and serve the people around her, even if it’s not what she had expected.
Who can you invite in at this time?
Does your small group inspire you to live a life of mission?
Fusion provides Online Small Groups Training for anyone looking for some extra help in leading online small groups in this season. Click here to find out more.