When I became a born-again Christian, I immediately joined a men’s group and probably learned as much about Jesus and life with that bunch than anywhere else.

I strongly suggest joining a small group at your church, whether it be a youth group, men’s group, women’s group, senior group, Bible study group or any other that interests you. Relationships in these gatherings are usually very strong, and it’s a great way to grow in your walk with the Lord.

In my case there was a bonus: The group was comprised of mostly older men, so even at 45 I was the youngest. “I just come here to feel young,” I often quipped. That only lasted about six months though, as we had an influx of men younger, some way younger, than me join. Good for the church, bad for my quest for the Fountain of Youth.

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Here are some important lessons I learned from my early days in the group:

* When you get 40 or more men together a handful will emerge as jokesters (confession time: I was often the instigator). Luckily, we had an easy-going group who loved to laugh, so they often played along.

* Whether you can carry a tune or not, sing with as much passion and praise as possible. I must not have been too bad because they never purchased a karaoke machine. This doesn’t necessarily mean sing loud, just with your whole heart. Try it. It’s fun and inspires others.

* Everybody has something to offer. We took turns at the podium with no prescribed format. Some sang, some talked about something interesting they read, some just talked about their lives … the list was endless. Some just read their favorite passages from the Bible and shared what the Spirit had revealed to them. No matter what they did, we always learned something about the speaker.

* You can learn something about the Bible from anyone. The Bible speaks to different people in different ways. It seems some people can better follow the Spirit through certain parts of the Bible than others. Hearing what was revealed to them brought great insight to parts of the Bible where I struggled.

* Perhaps the most important lesson I learned from my older group: Hold onto your loved ones closely because one day they’ll be gone. This goes without saying and needs to further comment.

Jesus prayed for the unity of his believers in John 17. Joining a small group, or more than one, does just that. It’s also a tremendous way to bond, learn, teach, encourage and just “goofball” around with others. We met in the morning, so we also broke bread together … and eggs and hash browns and bacon and sausage (sometimes with gravy).