“God used our whole stewardship conversation to change how we live in community with other believers. We used to come to community group with a decision. Now we have a discussion.”
“It’s humbling to be told that you’re wrong,” said Michael Groves. “My wife, Lindsay, and I know that firsthand. It’s countercultural to allow others to speak into your lives and point out where you are being unrealistic or acting entitled. But God has used conversations with our Watermark community group to do just that, and those hard conversations have been used by God to help both of us make God-honoring decisions.
“I moved to Dallas after college graduation and started looking for a church as I began working. I was out one night in Uptown, and someone mentioned that they were going to church the next day. So, I gave it a shot and went with my friends to Watermark. Honestly, it felt like the speaker was talking directly to me. He mentioned his own battle with pornography – something I had struggled with since 6th grade. Suddenly, Christ seemed so relevant to what was going on in my life, and God’s Word became alive and applicable.
“I started going to The Porch (Watermark’s young adults ministry) on Tuesdays, which was great, because otherwise, I would have been at a bar. I also jumped into a community group so I could start meeting other believers. Honestly, it was weird to me at first because everyone was so open, and I don’t think I was even a believer at the time. When they started talking about their own struggles and sin patterns, I wasn’t ready to do the same and dropped out of community.
“I kept going to Watermark and eventually got used to the idea of community and gave it another shot. I ended up with a bunch of other guys who read God’s Word together and asked one another hard questions about our lives. We served together,and I saw God at work. God started to release some of my fears in sharing my story, and as I opened up, God began to change things. The Lord made it clear to me that I wasn’t going to get very far in my spiritual maturity if I kept looking at porn, so I stopped. I changed my playground and my playmates, so to speak, and started spending time with my community group. Those guys became some of my closest friends.
“My wife and I met serving in the Community Ministry and ended up serving on the same short-term discipleship trip to Ethiopia as well. We dated and went through Merge about six months after that. We had a community of faithful friends around us and knew that we were making the right decision.
“We actually were surprised to find out that we got pregnant on our honeymoon. We were living in a tiny apartment near Watermark and drowning in debt from student loans, car loans, etc. We’d hoped to spend time paying off our debts after our wedding, but didn’t know how that was going to happen.
“We were now in a Foundation Group, a Watermark community group for couples married three years or less, and were surrounded by friends who were really smart and willing to speak truth to us.After we found out we were having a baby, we really wanted to buy a house. Our community of friends showed us the wisdom in using whatever money we had to pay off our debt, rather than taking on more debt for a house. We looked at Proverbs 22:7 and 26 – Scripture that cautions people against debt. They were willing to speak truth to us, and even brought a spreadsheetto show where we could take ground in relieving the burden of debt we were under.
“It was a humbling experience to be told by our friends that it was the wrong time to buy a house. That’s not what we wanted to hear. But we were at peace with it because it made sense, and God’s Word is true. The borrower can really become a slave to the lender. So, we moved in with family, shared a room with the baby for a while, and commuted about 100 miles round trip every day going to work. It was hard.
“The good news is that we were able to pay off our student loans, the cars we drive, and any other debt we had. We actually became debt-free sooner than we thought. We were able to give freely, which was huge for us. But the best thing was how the Lord changed both our minds about stewardship.
“God used our whole stewardship conversation to change how we live in community with other believers. We used to come to community group with a decision. Now we have a discussion. We’ve all had big decisions to explore and seek God’s wisdom on, and community helps us see our blind spots rather than relying on our own opinions.
“Today, we view everything we have, including the house that God blessed us with, as the Lord’s and not ours. Friends and family have lived with us at times, just like we lived with family, because we see our home asa resource we steward for the Lord. We’re not promised a house, or a job, or a living. We are stewards of what the Lord gives us, and we want to serve others in the same way God used others to serve us.”