March 10, 2017
“So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.Hebrews 10:22-25 (The Message)
Friend to Friend
I joined a gym this Fall.
In all fairness perhaps I should back up and disclose that I actually joined the Y several months before. I walked through those doors armed with so many good intention that if intent was all it took to be fit, I’d have been on the cover of Shape Magazine by now.
I went twice.
It felt lonely and I had to park far away (you know, to walk into the GYM) and it wasn’t like Cheers where everybody knows you name. Apparently it was just all too much and my ENFP personality just couldn’t handle it.
Maybe if I’d done a class I’d have made a friend and gone more than twice. But I never can get the choreography right with a step class, Zumba makes me look like I’m convulsing, and the class called “Beast Mode” wasn’t exactly feeling invitational. Why are there walls full of windows for these classes anyhow? Is no one at the gym self conscious?! My spandex really served to hold the muffin top in, where as MANY of the others seemed to beautifully accentuate whatever cookies they’d been living without!
I even tried taking my kids, who were too young to work out on the equipment but too old for the kid zone, and so really, all the excuses were roadblocks and I quickly decided they stood completely in the way. I somehow convinced myself that I’d eventually go, so I foolishly paid for 6 months and only stepped foot in the building three times (if you include the day I went just to sign up and join.)
Finally, I cancelled the membership and resolved to walk in the neighborhood on the days it wasn’t too hot or too rainy or too cold or too inconvenient. As I’m sure you can guess, that was wildly successful as well, especially with all of my parameters of convenience around the plan.
Then one day when I was at a Moms in Prayer meeting for my kids’ school, my friend Kat told me about a gym she had joined and that for the first time in her life she actually looked forward to going. “It’s different…it’s like there is real community there,” she told me.
To make a long story short, I decided to give it a shot. And also because they ran a special through some direct mailing where you could somehow get the first month free. I figured it was worth a shot.
I actually had to wait three weeks to start because they put all the new people in a beginners class together so we could all learn the moves. I also quickly learned they did it this way because it was so exhausting and we might have all died had we shown up immediately to a regular length class.
The first day we did a high intensity workout that lasted approximately seven minutes and it took me SEVENTY minutes afterwards to catch my breath. I like to tell myself this was because we had to run in the cold and it was hard on our lungs, but also let’s be honest…it was because I’d had a gym membership for 8 months and never used it before. But I hung in there because at the next class when I admitted that I barely survived the rest of the day after the class, four other women admitted they took ages to recover as well. And suddenly, friendships were formed in those moments where we bonded over the struggle and admitted we didn’t have it all together.
Recently one of the trainers asked me to coffee just to check in and see how I was feeling about the program. (For the record, I’m still feeling really great about it since my smaller jeans are starting to nearly fit again.) As we were talking, I discovered that one of the company’s core values is truly about building community. Her asking me to coffee was actually part of her job to make sure people truly connect at the gym. Kinda genius right?!
While we were talking though, I learned that she loves the Lord and had been looking for a Bible study but time of day can be tricky and it’s hard to find community sometimes.
“What if you had a study at the gym?” I asked her.
“That’d be amazing…but we would have to find someone to facilitate it.” She shrugged.
“I could do it.” I said. And something in that moment felt more right than any of the last three studies I’ve done through the more traditional routes. “I mean, the community is already here…it’s just originally built around something else. Why not spur one another on in this way too?”
She and I are meeting in a couple of days to pick out a study and they’re going to send out an invite to all of the women who come to the gym. Listen, I’m not sure how it will go, but I can’t imagine a more perfect place to be doing ministry than where we already do life.
And I’ve been thinking how often we overlook the obvious places to be the hands and feet and mouthpieces of Jesus because we’re so focused on the more traditional spots. Wednesday nights can be amazing to gather with church friends, but when was the last time we gathered around the word with people who are in our world but maybe not even our denomination? Are we willing and open to building community around the Word from places where community is already growing? What if instead of trying to always create community around a study, we began to ask the Lord what spaces of connection in our lives already exist and could become even more powerful catalysts for His movement?
The Scriptures are clear that we have permission and even are encouraged to be INVENTIVE in the ways we spur one another on…in the ways we bring the Word of God to others. Imagine what the Lord can do when we invite him into all the spaces we go and how he can build even deeper community in places where He has already laid the groundwork of relationship.
Father God, thank You that You are in all things. Lord we love that You build relationships among people in the workplace, in neighborhoods, in gyms, and schools, and all the random places where we don’t even pay attention to all you could be doing. Lord, You connect us on bleachers and sidelines and in the PTA, and you have plans for ways you want to spread your Word that we have yet to even consider. Lord we ask that you’d open our eyes to see your people around us and the opportunities for deeper relationship with one another and with You. Thank you for inviting us to co-labor with you Father and we ask that you would make us attentive to the small voice in the unexpected places where you call us unto yourself.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
So often we look for specific brands of community in certain circles but maybe even have trouble finding it. What if we really began to see the whole world around us as a possibility to sow into an even deeper faith community outside the walls of our churches as well as within them? When we bring the Lord into places of already established relationships it can often open a door for a greater spread of the Gospel, a broadening of our own appreciation of the body of Christ as a whole, and even open opportunities for us to walk in discipleship along people we might not have rubbed spiritual shoulders with on a Sunday morning otherwise!
More from the Girlfriends
Logan Wolfram would give you full access to her pantry if you lived next door. She is a plate-juggling mom and interior decorator turned writer, speaker, and host of the Allume Conference. She is a passionate leader who desires to see women live fully in Christ. She is a speaker and the author of Curious Faith; Rediscovering Hope in the God of Possibility. Logan and her husband, Jeremy, divide their time between wrangling two inquisitive boys, a 175-pound mastiff named Titan, and a 17 pound mutt named Sugar. They reside in Greenville, South Carolina. Connect more with Logan on her website www.LoganWolfram.com
 Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Heb 10:22–25). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
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Originally published Friday, 10 March 2017.