Small groups have always been a very important part of Ignite. I remember nervously walking into my first small group my freshman year and being terrified but feeling the Lord calling me to dig deeper, to invest myself in this ministry and church, and to own the mission of Ignite for my own life. Buying into the mission of Ignite meant putting myself in a situation of vulnerability with a group of girls that I had never met before and that terrified me, but God used that first experience to write a little piece of my ongoing grace story. That year I learned that regardless of my past, which at the time seemed insignificant and uneventful, I was a broken sinner in need of a savior, and I was able to look back on the times in my life which seemed insignificant and recognize that God had spared me from so much hurt and heartache. God continued my story by giving me an opportunity to be discipled, one on one, by my small group leader and then eventually to become a small group leader. Although I felt inadequate as a leader, and still do, my hope is that through digging in the word together God reveals to us more about His character and how He is shaping us into the image of Christ.
This year my small group is studying the book of James. Through reading James God is challenging us to be doers, not just hearers of the word, and to live out our faith. He is urging us to seek wisdom and showing us that good works are a result of our faith, not a means to it. I am fortunate enough to be able to co-lead our group with my friend Olivea, and this semester God has placed on both of our hearts the importance of what happens after this semester is over, and after college is over. Our hope is that our small group isn’t a crutch to simply help our girls “get through” college, but a starting off point. We pray that they continue to live God glorifying, gospel centered, missionally driven, disciple making lives in their future careers, with their future spouses, when they are raising up the future generation of believers. We pray that our time together at small group is showing them the importance of surrounding yourself with a community of believers and that they would continue to surround themselves with this type of community wherever God calls them in the future. We pray that our studying of God’s word wouldn’t be only heard, as James warns, but that it would spur them into action, and this pattern of hearing and obeying would become second nature. This is my prayer for every student at Ignite, and that through us every college student in Southwest Florida would have repeated opportunities to hear and respond to the Gospel.
If you aren’t a part of a small group I encourage you to join one. I’m praying that God continues to use small groups to further his kingdom, and I’m thankful to be a part of what he’s doing at and through Ignite, in small groups, and on the campus of FGCU.