When a local family hosted a game night in Aurora last August, no one anticipated what would develop from the evening. Less than 24 hours after Anthony and Kayleigh Finelli received an unexpected diagnosis about their son, they attended the game night and shared the news. The response was overwhelming, with the group turning to prayer on behalf of the Finelli family. After that night, the group decided that they should study the Bible together and Joshua Wallace reached out to Dan Larison to become a Community Group leader.
For the Finellis, the Community Group has opened their eyes to what it means to belong to the church. “We have a large Christian family who live locally and we tend to lean on them for prayer, encouragement, and spiritual guidance. But the support we have received from this group has shown us that also being a part of the body of Christ is important. It feels like an extension of the family.”
The group has rallied around the Finellis and provided support for Anthony and Kayleigh through prayer, helping secure resources that their son needs, and spiritual encouragement. “We study Nehemiah together as a couple, but when we go to the group and hear how the Lord is using Nehemiah to speak into other people’s lives, it is an encouragement to us and challenges us further.” Their words echo what author John Stott states in The Living Church: “The value of the small group is that it can become a community of related persons; and in it the benefit of personal relatedness cannot be missed, nor its challenge evaded. … I do not think it is an exaggeration to say, therefore that small groups, Christian family or fellowship groups, are indispensable for our growth into spiritual maturity.”
The Finellis aren’t the only members who have been impacted by the group. Joshua Wallace commented, “The Lord has blessed our family in many ways through our community group. Leading the group has given me a renewed vigor to study the Word; specifically to understand how the short narratives, like Nehemiah, fit into the larger unfolding narrative of God's plan to save his people.” His theological degree has aided in leading the group, while others’ gifts of mercy, service, and financial resources have contributed to the community. “It’s amazing how the members of the group have proactively and sacrificially cared for one another,” Joshua observed. It truly encompasses 1 Peter 4:10-11: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
Anthony and Kayleigh were reluctant to go to the game night so soon after receiving the news about their son. But they had made a commitment to go and decided it would be beneficial to attend. Their step of courage to be present and vulnerable has led to belonging to a group of people who are dedicated to studying God’s Word and living out Galatians 6:2 together: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
If you are local and want to get to know others, build lasting relationships, and find a vibrant community at Parkside Church, we encourage you to explore one of the following groups: