There are many places in Scripture where God commands us, as followers of Christ to live and be in community with one another. We are not to do this life alone, we need others to support us and point us back to God in both the joys and trials of life. There are many avenues to get connected at Hope however, we believe small groups are the best way to get connected to a smaller community within the larger body of Hope! Below is a testimony written by Ellie Cowger about the impact her small group has had in her faith journey.
Hello, Hope Community Church! My name is Ellie Cowger and I have been attending Hope for 6 years (HOLY COW – how has it been 6 YEARS?!). I began attending Hope in 2014 during my freshman year of college at the University of Minnesota. I attended FCA where I met Michael Bolland and a few other current Hopesters! They encouraged me to come along with them to Hope on Sunday mornings. I was hesitant at first and I remember being SO lost in much of what Steve and Cor shared in their sermons, but for some reason I kept coming back.
It was a sweet start to my community at Hope. I didn’t fully become ingrained in the community of Hope until the summer after my senior year when I joined a small group (s/o to Rage City)! I have been a part of small groups at Hope ever since.
I was strongly encouraged to join a small group by Emily Mousel (formerly Emily Severson). I met Emily at a job interview during the Fall of my senior year. Over small talk, we realized we both attended Hope and so she asked me to grab coffee before church one morning. The rest is history! We stayed in touch the entirety of my senior year and she continually prodded me to join a small group (with a strong push to join herin her small group). As a student and a spring sport athlete, I was hesitant to commit to a small group while I was in school but she persisted and I eventually joined her small group in June of 2018 after graduation.
Everything Emily had to say about her community at Hope was so positive. I had never been surrounded by such a large group of believers who were constantly pursuing Christ centered community. The group called themselves “Rage City” and I remember being SO confused as to why they came up with that name or even why they called themselves that to others! My first night with Rage City was a community night which was a great way to ease myself in. We went to Wicked Wort brewery and I remember instantly feeling so welcome. The conversation was easy and everyone genuinely wanted to get to know me. The rest of the summer was just what I needed transitioning out of the college world and into what we call “the real world.” I was able to share the highs and lows of entering corporate life and the challenges of leaving school and the sport that had been my life for 20 years.
That summer was pure joy – I found (was basically handed) a community of believers who I came to know and love, and who make up some of my sweetest friendships! The next two years, I came to know Jesus in a way I hadn’t in school. I saw him through the men and women in my small group, the way they loved, the way they learned and the way they cared for those around them. Believe it or not, I realized doing life with a community of believers also comes with a great deal of challenges.
I am encouraged to walk with Jesus DAILY with these people in my life. A day doesn’t go by that I’m not encouraged by things they share, things they do, or their words of encouragement. These things did not change in this new season of life I have entered. I recently left Rage City to join a previously established group as one of their new leaders. The change was bittersweet but the opportunity was one that would lead me to grow as a believer and leader. I realized that Jesus does not call us to comfortability, he calls us to discipleship and servant leadership. And for me, discipleship and servant leadership came with growth in this season. I’ve been challenged in more ways than one, learning to lead, reestablishing community in my life and building new friendships. In my short time with this new group, I have learned leadership is not defined by knowing the most scripture or by spitting out wisdom left and right. It is about coming alongside people, seeking to know them and care for them, just as Christ does. I have been shown grace, open arms, and encouragement by the men and women of this new small group. And for that, I am so thankful.
With that, I would encourage anyone seeking to grow in a relationship with Christ to join a small group. I would encourage anyone looking for even a sliver of community to join a small group. The opportunity to know others and walk alongside them in our individual faith walks is something sweeter than I ever could have drawn up.
Small groups meet all over the metro area, on a weekly basis. If you are interested in joining a small group, email email@example.com