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Doing Life Together from a Distance

Staci Rue, Groups Pastor

Doing life together...apart. An oxymoron or an invitation? If you have been around our church for any given time, you have probably heard about our heart to "do life together" because The Desert Vineyard has a strong desire to not just have surface connections like saying hi and bye to each other at the weekend services, but to really know and love each other. It's an idea that comes straight from the Bible (Acts 2, Romans 12:4-5).  In normal circumstances, we would encourage you to start doing this by either joining a group, signing up to serve in a ministry or signing up for a class. These are all ways to start getting to know others in our church. And great ways to grow in our faith in Jesus.

But here we find ourselves, ten months into a pandemic, and life in our church is still very much centered in a virtual world. Yet, the church is still encouraging us to do life together from a distance. Why? How? Can't we just let this one go until life returns to "normal"? Do I really need to get to know others in this season of my life when everything is virtual? Maybe you find that virtual groups or meetings feel awkward, exhausting, limiting, and/or inauthentic. Maybe you are longing for normalcy and meeting in a virtual group just feels too strange.  While I know that virtual fatigue is, in fact, a real problem, I would contend that the words of the Bible are not limited by our current circumstances. And I really believe there are meaningful connections that can still exist albeit in a virtual world.

I have led a Life Group through Zoom a few times now in the last ten months. When I started my first group, I was admittedly feeling all the questions I stated earlier. It just felt hard to get started with a group over my computer. I had never been in a virtual group in my life, let alone led one. Who was going to show up? What if my computer glitches and freezes and we have awkward silences? What if I don't know the people at all that show up? What if we are in different life stages, different faith journeys, and have different backgrounds?

Well I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that most all of those things did happen in my group: awkward silences, new people I've never met, various backgrounds, ages and life seasons. And guess what? God still moved. God will never be limited by anything. Even in a pandemic, he brings to our lives meaning and connection. And really, it is quite amazing that technology today allows us the space and ability to connect in this way.

I met people I would have never met had it not been for small group. I got to know them, learned of their walks with Jesus and really started caring about these people. We prayed for each other about health issues, we checked in with each other over the week, we became friends.  What was once a frustrating dilemma to do a group virtually became a bright spot in my week. I can honestly say that I thank God for Zoom! It turns out you really can do life together...apart.

Today as I write this, I cannot wait to get started next week with my group again. This is only by the grace of God that his Spirit brings about a unity and connection that is meaningful and positive in a really hard season of life. I would encourage each of you to check out a group today and see what God might have for you in this season! And as always, please let me know if I can help you find a group.  You can email [email protected] and I will get back to you soon!

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