Benton & Ed: Among Friends

"Wouldn’t I know it: these folks I see at church every Sunday are pretty cool underneath their “Sunday best.” And when you make time to share dinner together, pray together, laugh and mourn together, you may just find yourself among friends."

BENTON: Men, friends are like workouts. We had a lot of them in school, but now they’ve become less important, an every-now-and-then thing. They’ve got to be on the schedule or they don’t happen. They both do good for the heart. Regularity and commitment make each most effective. And if you are bearing a burden, each can lend a helping hand. There’s a significant difference between workouts and friends, though. We readily admit that we’re lacking exercise, and we even make jokes about it. On the other hand, we “turtle shell” and become defensive when it’s suggested that we’re lonely, which is as ironic as it is accurate. Get out of your shell, be humble, and be known.

The Community Group to which I belong is a place for me to get out of my shell, to be humble, and to be known. It is a home away from home, especially because “home” is a plane ride away. And how did I come to truly belong, to be at home? Someone invited me, opened the door with a smile, and week after week reiterated, “We’re glad you’re here!” I believe it. Wouldn’t I know it: these folks I see at church every Sunday are pretty cool underneath their “Sunday best.” And when you make time to share dinner together, pray together, laugh and mourn together, you may just find yourself among friends.

Ed:  “Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.”

Those lyrics from the old TV show, “Cheers,” ring true for how our group feels to me. It’s amazing how alone you can feel in a city full of people, a mall full of people, or even a church full of people. Twice a month, our Community Group is the perfect antidote to that loneliness. Particularly for guys. The truth is, most of us don’t have a lot of close friends. We have buddies. My wife, Carolyn, is incredulous that I can play racquetball with the same group of guys at the gym for years, but still not know where they work, where they live, or hardly anything about their families. But that’s the level where most guys’ “friendships” tend to stay. Most guys have only 1-2 really close friends, and a lot of us don’t even have that.

Our Community Group is a complete zoo. People arrive whenever they can. Kids are screaming. The dog is pouncing on the kids. Food ends up in many places. It’s all kind of like… family. But eventually, after the social time, things tend to calm down. The kids are in the basement. The dog has cleaned up all the crumbs and is curled up on the floor. And we are sharing about how last Sunday’s sermon has impacted us. And then we’re sharing our struggles and joys with each other, and praying for each other. And once in a while, you find yourself still talking to someone long after everyone else has gone home. And you’ve made a friend.

If interested in leading a Community Group, please contact Caroline Cross

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