Grace communities

We all need places and spaces where we can be ourselves—where we can be authentic and real, even when we are not doing well or have made mistakes.

Because of those mistakes, we need grace. Truckloads of grace.

God is the supplier of this grace. He is the one who gives us what we don’t deserve, but we desperately need. We cannot earn God’s favor on our own, no matter how hard we try, no matter how good our intentions are.

When we do not measure up, we are prone to hide. We try to cover up our missteps and mistakes, and we act like everything is good and we are fine. But that doesn’t solve the problem; it just hides the problem. Hence the need for God’s grace.

How do we gain access to this grace? We receive the grace of God by humbling ourselves and admitting where we have failed to measure up to God’s standards.

God meets us right there.

How does God supply this grace to us? Many times, He chooses to use other people to deliver the grace we so desperately need. Grace is delivered by people who know the real you—the people who know your past and your current struggles. These are trustworthy people who have proven they are on the journey with you.

Where do we find people like this? It starts with us, and it starts with humility. We have to be willing to humble ourselves and come out of hiding long enough to share our story. This takes a willingness to be vulnerable, and it is sometimes intimidating work. Sometimes it takes time to find a person or a group of people who can be trusted with our story, but they are out there.

It could be friends gathering together for lunch or members of a neighborhood group who have started to share the real struggles of their lives. It could be a counseling office where someone shares things they have kept secret, or a men’s or women’s group where people have finally decided to get vulnerable with each other and come out of hiding.

We see these kinds of groups every week within Thursday Night Encounter at Southeast Christian Church. Encounter is a weekly gathering of the Support and Recovery Ministry, which consists of large group worship and about 70 small groups full of fellow strugglers journeying through a specific area of difficulty or pain.

But Support and Recovery doesn’t corner the market on grace communities. They can start in all kinds of places; you just have to look for them.

If you start with your own humility, grace communities will begin to come into view.

Grace communities are groups of people who are honest and authentic with each other, who are unafraid of stepping into the messiness of life and who talk about sin in the present tense. In these groups, you can stand before God, look at your sin and work it out together.

We need an abundance of grace, but we also need truth to continue to grow.

I believe the best avenue for God to deliver His truth is through communities of grace—God working through other believers who know the real you and can speak healing words of truth into the vulnerable areas of your life.

If you have already experienced a grace community, let me encourage you to expand your influence. Extend grace to other communities and other individuals in your life.

You carry an enormously valuable resource: the grace of God.

If you have never experienced this kind of group, seek it out. They are out there. Humble yourself. Look for trustworthy Christians in your life. It will be life-changing.

Grace communities are a risk. Humility and authenticity are extreme concepts in our culture, but so is the Gospel. Find a grace community that continues to speak the Gospel over your life with grace and truth.

Dave Spruell is Southeast’s Support and Recovery Ministry leader.