Since joining Northpark Church, I’ve seen our mission statements lived out in many ways by leadership, by the congregation, by our teens and even the youngest among us. But, where I’ve experienced them most fully is in our Life Group. When we first began hosting a Life Group, I was excited to spend more time diving into the Bible. I didn’t realize that a Life Group would be so much more than a Bible study. Our bi-weekly get-togethers have connected us more strongly than some of my longest-running relationships. Why? Because this is the perfect place to be imperfect. At Life Group, we have the opportunity to let down the walls we put up to shield ourselves from hurt and allow for vulnerability. We truly are living life together – the day-to-day good and bad. The ups and downs. The wins and the losses. And, with that vulnerability comes a deep connection with our fellow group members. Because in our weakness, we are wrapped up not only in God’s love, but also in the warm, loving embrace of our church family.

Each Sunday I leave our church with at least one nugget (if not PA’s customary three points) of information that I can use in my daily life. I’ve typically laughed a few times, given some high fives, and been filled with hope, joy and encouragement. Life Group is an extension of that weekly experience, and sometimes a more intense and meaningful one. Through our studies, I’ve learned how to put on God’s armor to protect myself out in the world. I’ve learned how to pray with more intention. I’ve been encouraged by studying Romans and asked questions about the very beginning of the world. Our family’s faith has grown thanks to Life Group and I’ve matured in my relationship with our Father.

I was raised in a home that taught “it is better to give than receive.” Helping others was just a part of who we were as a family. But, in the busyness of life, it’s easy to let intentional servanthood fade as a priority. Life Group has given me an opportunity to serve others on a regular basis – by opening our home for meetings, serving a meal and putting the prayer needs of others on the top of my list. This service to others is a wonderful example to my son, and has extended beyond the walls of our home. This past November, our Life Group joined me in a fundraising event that I help coordinate. They showed up with smiles and hugs on a cold winter day to help serve 1,000 people at The Sunday Supper, which raised money for Hurricane victims. Their support – in prayer and in person – meant so much to me and it was fun to serve others together!

Here at Northpark, we’re pastoring a city. I’ve learned from Pastor Anthony and from our Life Group that pastoring a city can take many different forms. Our Life Group members often times are pastoring each other – through prayer and support. We’re pastoring others through service out in our community. And, through our Bible studies, we’re enriching our knowledge and strengthening our faith … and in turn we’re better prepared to reach others and help them develop a relationship with God.

I’m so thankful for our Life Group and the commitment we’ve made to each other. This precious group of people are dear to me, especially because they’ve helped me live out the core values of Northpark: Connect. Grow. Serve. Go.

And, while our church is in the midst of change, I know our Life Group will help keep us connected as a church family…and help us connect with others. If you’re not a part of a Life Group, you’re missing out. Want to learn more? Ask me. Or, even better, join us. Our door is always open and our table always has room for one more.

MCGAVOCK EDWARDS |  Follower of Jesus. Wife. Mom. Friend.