When Ben and I moved to the Birmingham area in late 2011, we quickly began searching for a church home. We joined another church in the area and visited life groups, but we never found a group that made us feel connected to the heart of the church. We attended regularly, but there wasn’t a desire to grow and serve as part of the church.

Three years later we moved to another area of Birmingham and ultimately found Dawson. From the first time we visited we felt at home. At the time, I was pregnant with our son James, now three. We quickly joined the church and wanted to get involved in a Life Group. On our first Sunday as “official” Dawson members we visited the Flowers/Black Class. Undoubtedly the Lord led us to this class because there were several couples from my hometown of Florence, and Ben has been a patient of Dr. Black’s since we moved to Birmingham. As soon-to-be first-time parents, we were excited to be among families who were also expecting and due within weeks of when we were (our class has a bit of a reputation for always having at least one pregnant couple!).

Almost four years later, the impact that being part of a Life Group has had on us continues to bless, change, and grow our family in our relationship with Christ. As our friendships continue to grow with one another, it has been such a joy to see the friendships of our children grow as well. These are the friends that our son goes to Day School with, whose birthday parties he attends, and who we meet for play dates. The Blacks and the Flowers have ministered to us in ways that have helped us not only grow in our faith, but also learn to understand and defend our faith in a time where it is being attacked almost constantly. We know that we are prayed for and loved by a close-knit group of believers, and the fact that we live hours from our immediate family makes this all the more vital.

The life-long connections we’ve made as part of a Life Group have encouraged us to get involved in many other areas of the church; from serving with the Preschool Ministry during KidLife and on Wednesday nights to weekday Bible Studies that Ben and I both attend.

If you are considering joining a Life Group, let me encourage you to take the next step and get involved. The impact it will have on your family, both spiritually and socially, will be felt for years to come.

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Annie is married to Ben and lives in the Greystone area with their son James, age 3. Currently a stay at home mom, she has worked in the past as an Interior Designer in Birmingham and Savannah, Georgia.