What kind of blog title is cg?
It is a title created by a crazy mind who sees things a little weirdly.
It is a title that would be discouraged by the great and successful in the blogosphere.
It is a title made of the initials of two things that have been meaningful in my life.
Camp Gladiator and Community Groups
Perhaps that should have been the title (of course in all lowercase). You would at least have known a little bit about what you were getting into.
CG represents two things that seem to be very different – a fitness “bootcamp” and a weekly church group – but have more in common that you might realize.
I started Camp Gladiator (CG) in 2017 with my friend Sandra. We got a free month and decided to jump in. That first workout on January 2nd was a beat down. So hard! That “dizzy head I might pass out” hard. If you are in great shape you may not know what I am talking about there. But, we went back. Most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 5:15 am (yes, 5:15 happens twice each day) we were there. Not only did we go back during our free month, we kept going back, committing to a year of this craziness.
What kept us going back?
We had an amazing trainer, Shannon, who cheered us on and gave us modifications as needed. Shannon believed in us. Shannon pushed us. That was huge. But, that alone wouldn’t have been enough.
What kept us going back?
In a word – Community
There was a group of people from all different walks of life who were there to make healthy choices and cheer others on in the process. I never felt like they were judging me as I finished a lap last or had to take a moment to breathe. There were high fives, and “good jobs,” and “you can do it.” There were celebrations of new achievements and gracious “we missed you” when gone for travel (or sleep). There were friendships made.
Besides my friend Sandra, there was Katie, Sabra, Brad, Schakira, Kiki, Elisha, Amber, and a host of others who welcomed me into the group. There was another trainer, Becky, who always called us athletes as she pushed us to keep going.
Not only did this group of people cheer for each other, they would take time to help the new people make sure their form was correct, understand the CG specific “lingo,” and explain various exercise combos. There was joy in seeing each other succeed.
I remember talking to my amazing husband about this experience with CG, trying to explain it to an “outsider.” (He was a bit surprised that I kept getting up at 4:40am, not being a natural early morning person). In my explaining, I had an “a-ha!” moment.
Camp Gladiator camps (at least the ones I visited) function as the body of Christ should function.
A group of people with a similar goal who
encourage each other
give friendly correction when needed
welcome new people
work hard together
Of course, there isn’t a perfect correlation, but perhaps some of our churches could take lessons.
And it is this thought that brings me to my second “cg” – Community Group.
When my honey and I showed up in Kansas City, we knew we wanted to find a church. Through God’s gracious hand of providence, we had already found a church we wanted to visit. Soon after visiting we were invited to try out a community group. On the church website the first sentence under the vision for these community groups is “Community Groups exist to see the people of Emmaus Church experience gospel-centered belonging, discipleship, and commission with one another for the glory of God.” If you want to read the full community group vision statement, you can see it here.
Our community group is composed of people from all different walks of life who are there to display and declare the glory of God and to encourage others on in the process. I never feel like they are judging me as I confess my sins, share my dark heart moments, or for just being my goofy self. There is gospel truth, accountability, “you are loved,” and “I am praying for you.” There are celebrations of God’s work in our lives and gracious “we missed you” when gone for travel (or work). There are friendships made. There is family.
When I look at my list above of what I loved about CG “bootcamp,” I see quite a bit of similarity between it and our community group.
Our community group is a group of people with a similar goal who
encourage each other – we pray for each other and speak the gospel into each other’s lives as well as giving practical help (babysitting, airport drop offs, meals)
give friendly correction when needed – we confess sins to each other and then come alongside one another in prayer and in speaking truth
welcome new people – our group has marrieds, singles, couples with kids, couples without kids, college students, graduate students, professionals, stay at home moms, and empty nesters – all are welcome
work hard together – we come together to volunteer at church and in the community
laugh together – we do this a LOT
Being a part of community requires giving, not just receiving. It requires vulnerability. It requires commitment. If you are in a place where you are lacking community, I pray that you will find it.