Written by Jared Wilkins, pastor at Willow Creek
When I first heard about the series, I was really excited thinking about the power of our entire church fully engaging in the same study. I know I had to get involved—and I wanted ALL IN! Daily readings, podcasts, questions, and a small-group community. Then I thought: How am I going to do this? I wasn’t as concerned about keeping up with the readings, because I can do that anytime and anywhere, the community portion would be a challenge. Both my wife and I have busy schedules, not to mention 4 children. How would we be able to follow through with that commitment to community? Community and conversation matter, and I knew my Journey experience would be limited without it.
I wondered what would it look like to start a virtual community, one that met online without the constraints of location and transportation. I am a people-person and value both proximity and face-to-face contact, so I was initially skeptical that this would work. To make this more interesting, I planned on forming this community with people who didn’t have any previous connections. I invited several people from our Willow Creek TV audience to participate in an online Journey through John experience. The emails came in, people signed up for a time, and now, several weeks later, we have a group that is beyond my expectations!
Every week people from the West Coast, to the East coast, New York to Brazil, and as far as Australia, join online to talk about Journey, pray and encourage each other, and pray some more. I am, and will forever be, grateful for the relationships that have formed in this community. I’ve learned that God’s powerful Spirit is present regardless of our proximity. True Biblical community exists where worship, teaching, confession, prayer, and testimony is thriving—and it’s happening in this online space. It’s amazing to hear first-hand what God is doing not only in Chicagoland, but all over the globe, and I walk away from my computer screen every Tuesday deeply encouraged.
There is a hunger inside all of us for community, learning, and serving and the Journey through John has given us a unique opportunity to live this out. Out of this group, we have even formed a prayer team that lifts up the group's requests every week!
In January, I wasn’t sure if this was possible, but now I know for certain that it is. I have been changed through the trust, love, and accountability that has formed in a short time. Having this unique opportunity to learn about Jesus with people who come from different states, cultures, countries, time zones, and hemispheres is shaping me and each person in the group, as well. God is the God of this WORLD and I see it when I look into the eyes of the community of people who meet from around the world. We were strangers, but now I know we are brothers, sisters, and dare I say, friends who are connected through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is definitely present; we are being transformed. I can’t wait to see what happens in the future!
If you are interested in joining an online group we’d love to get you connected! Email us at [email protected] for more details.