An Open Letter To My Friend Leaving Community

How do you make sure you're being poured into spiritually so that you can pour into those you serve?

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“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
-Matthew 18:20

Recently I had coffee with a great friend of mine.  We had a few things on the agenda to catch up over, to seek advice in, and to pray for.

One thing startled me: he was pondering leaving his small group.  That isn't cause for concern in general; people outgrow groups, life commitments change, things happen.

What startled me was that it was to trade the time spent in group to serve in church.  Even that isn't cause for concern in and of itself.

But what alarmed me was that this person was already serving so much that he didn't even get to attend service at church anymore.  He watched online later on Sunday because he spent all morning serving.

I love that we can watch messages online.  Man do I love it.  I'm blessed to listen to podcasts and messages from preachers who feed me spiritually throughout the week.

But not attending church live, in community, is definitely one way to be worn out spiritually.  To listen to a message online is one thing; to worship corporately and move from isolation to community is another.

So as I looked at this friend across the table, my heart sank a bit.  Group was the one time he was able to be fully known, be vulnerable; not be a leader who had to serve.

I listened.  I prayed.  I slept on it.  And then I sent this text.  I share it not to break confidence, but because I pray that if you are not in community, especially if you are serving, that you will consider the message I shared with him as wisdom to chew on.

Praying about our talk and want to throw two things at you.  No need to reply, throw it out if it isn’t on, but just things on my heart that I want you to chew on.  I’m concerned for you not being in group and then not being properly poured into.  We know that we can only minister from the overflow - it isn’t us teaching our own knowledge, but us teaching from how God has broken us and redeemed us to others.  That means we need to be poured into to have a cup running over in maturity to then pour into others.  I know you haven’t been able to attend service as you’d like and that’s my first concern, but then my second is that group seems to be the place where you can be poured into and now that will be gone.  I guess I wouldn’t have this concern if you were able to attend a service and be poured into, but for you to just give on Sunday’s and throughout the week as you meet with and pour into others, 1) you won’t be poured into and that becomes draining, and 2) you don’t have space to be fully known and vulnerable and vent.  So all of that to say, not saying don’t leave group, just saying you still need to replace it.  Chew on how you are going to be poured into each week in community, not just in isolation via a web cast or podcast.  We are made to do life together, and not just serving others, but others serving us by pouring into us as well.  Love you.

How about you?  Are you being poured into?

Michael Tatonetti