Christian Community in the Seasons of Life
Written by Caleb & Karli Newton
Karli and I have been members of Waypoint now for the better part of a decade. We met, married, and have had three kids since Karli started attending Waypoint back at Lowe’s Grove. We approached our desire for a deep meaningful Christian community from two very different backgrounds. I accepted Christ at a young age and spent many of my adult years moving from state to state, pursuing a career, and bouncing from church to church in the process. My experience with meaningful friendships and community outside of a Sunday service was limited. Karli encountered God in college and was baptized at Waypoint in 2015. She dove headfirst into a small, tight-knit community by living as a part of the Dwell program. Her experience with Christ-centered communities was intentional and profound.
Before Karli and I married, we reflected on Philippians 2:1-2,“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, and participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” We’ve found one of the most encouraging and joyful things in our lives so far is seeking Christ with friends who are also seeking Christ. In our almost seven years as a couple, we’ve navigated several seasons of life and the people in our community groups (we’ve been in several now) have become our closest, most trusted friends. Even through major life changes, such as moves, marriage, babies and COVID, their support and care has been unwavering. Early in our marriage, we met in small groups with ease, stayed long, and had fairly un-distracted prayers, Bible studies, and events together. We grew close with friends during this time. When babies arrived, we began a different cadence with these groups. We’ve tried a variety of formats and days of the week. We’ve split into men and women, alternating days so that we can put children to bed. We put a new emphasis on day-time meetups and potlucks so we can meet as one big family. We’ve missed days. We skipped the bible study portion of the small group and just sat and talked because we hadn’t seen each other for a while. But we did it all together, struggling to find un-distracted time and attention, and in doing so, still benefited from our aligned Christian walk in a difficult season of life.
I believe God is glorified in everyday, normal things. Going to a small group when you're tired from work or children benefits God’s kingdom. Spending more time on logistics to plan how you’ll be intentional with your Christian friends also benefits the kingdom. Karli and I want to encourage people who struggle with community because of career, personality, or a change in life’s season. We’ve been in that spot and have found God faithful to use those simple, small, unglamorous decisions to pursue community over time in powerful ways. With the benefit of the better part of a decade at Waypoint in hindsight, I can say that every moment we’ve spent in pursuit of community through small groups, extracurriculars, and just plain, normal everyday time with our Christian friends has produced fruit in our lives, and perhaps now, as important, fruit in our children's lives.
In our experience, the Christian walk can feel isolating. Whether it’s because much of your day is spent in a professional setting where your faith may put you in the minority, or because you spend your day raising children that drain you mentally and physically - we’ve found the encouragement, feeling of shared purpose, and love from the people in our small groups to be absolutely essential in our walk with Christ. A few weeks ago, Pastor Frey spoke about depending on the power of God in suffering. While writing this and reflecting on that idea, I think we find one very practical way to depend on God’s power by depending on these God glorifying friendships we find in Spirit led community groups. If you find this difficult (like I have) or you have an easier time (like Karli) - know that the reward is worth overcoming introversion, or battling the fatigue of your daily grind to get into a setting where people love Jesus and want to help, befriend, encourage, and walk with you. We love and appreciate our Waypoint family of believers and we are so thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit through the power of community.