GIVE! The Gift of Community – Guest Post by Grant Jenkins
Today’s GIVE! story is from my friend Grant. I’ve known Grant for over 10 years. We worked together in our music business days and now I have the privilege of working with him at Cross Point. I love Grant’s passion and energy for changing lives – it’s contagious! His story today about the gift of community is so, so powerful and something that each one of us can give to others if we were only attentive enough to the need.
You can follow Grant on twitter here and be sure to check out his blog.
It was Sunday, August 29, 2010. I had 37 cents in my bank account and had just used my rent money to make an 11th hour car payment to, for the third time this year, prevent the repossession of my car.
I was embroiled in a genuinely challenging situation, one that was escalating, and I had no idea how it was going to play out.
Let me rewind and give some context for my story.
In January of this year, after coming face to face with the condition of my heart, I chose to walk away from the career that I had clung to so tightly as my source of identity and worth. It was during this same time I came to Cross Point Church and on Sunday, January 17 I first met Wes Howard and walked downstairs to the church gym to check out the “Young Professionals” community group, which Wes led. As relational as I am by nature, I was honestly quite reluctant to go see what this group was about, partly because at that very moment in my life I was unraveling and didn’t feel like a “professional” anything, except perhaps a professional failure.
I will never forget walking into the gym that first night, completely clueless as to what to expect, and finding myself in the midst of 60 people who were all there looking for the same thing: community. Turns out, the group had grown from about 15 people to 60… THAT DAY.
Many significant things would occur over the course of the following months.
First, Wes and I became close friends and I was amazed to discover how much our stories were similar. Wes believed in me, encouraged me and invested his time and story into mine.
Second, I went from months of being unemployed and uncertain to getting a job at Starbucks which, looking back, wasn’t about coffee at all. Rather it was an operating room where God would deconstruct and reshape my heart. This season also brought with it a variety of financial challenges as I struggled to find the ends, let alone make them meet.
Third, as the months went on and the “young professionals” group grew larger, I began leading one of the small groups within the large group, as well as to help Wes with many of the behind the scenes administrative tasks involved in leading a group of over 120 people. Wes and I spent a lot of time every week, planning, praying, dreaming and creating together, and investing in this amazing group of people that we would officially rename as “STRETCH” in August 2010.
Which brings us to the August 29 scenario that I began with.
The Stretch group was back at the Cross Point gym, following a massive city-wide scavenger hunt we had put together for the group. We were all enjoying each other’s company when Wes took the microphone and began to speak.
He spoke about how his life had been impacted by the power of community and shared the part of his story where he was unable to pay his rent, and his community group quietly took up money for him, which ended up being the exact amount he needed for his rent.
He then called me up to the stage, shared how much he and the group loved me and presented me with an envelope of money they had collected for me.
I was in complete shock.
The amount of money was significant, and I was speechless. But more than the much-needed monetary gift I received, or the amount, I realized that I had been given something much more impactful and intangible than an envelope full of money…
I had been given the gift of community.
As I drove home that night, my heart was overflowing knowing that they valued me enough to give the way they gave to me that night. I later realized that it was almost a year ago to the day that Wes’ group had done the same for him. Now, a year later, he invited the group to make a similar investment, knowing first-hand the impact it would have.
I will never forget the investment Wes Howard and the Cross Point Stretch group have made into my life, and not just with their dollars… but with their heart.
How has your life been impacted by the gift of community?
This is a beautiful story of community and giving. I’m glad you shared it. It inspires me to reflect on the gift of community that I have received as well as give that to others.
Having wrestled with depression in the past, I can see how community has pretty much saved my life.
It saved mine, too, Scott.
That’s the true nature of community. No matter how many times I hear about this story it touches me (and you may not know it, Grant, but I’ve heard several people share about how awesome it was what happened that night.)
Thank you, Jason. I appreciate it. It was a powerful night.
The gift I received from community (specifically from our small group) was the understanding that everyone is messed up in their own special way. A lot of people are turned off by the church because they either think everyone has it all together or everyone are hypocrites because they don’t have it all together but act like it.
When you become part of a community you understand everyone is screwed up, and that is a great gift!
I love that, dude. I can certainly relate. For me, discovering Cross Point as a place where “it’s ok to not be ok” was so liberating for me and freed me to pursue community with no pretense.
I will never forget that moment. We all knew it was going to happen, but to see the surprised look on your face, to see the overwhelming emotions coming from both you and Wes, and to feel my own heart bursting for you, it was amazing.
Thank you for being such a selfless example of what God is calling us all to do. I love you buddy!!
I love hearing the perspective of other people who were there that night, and saw it happen from a different point of view. Thank you so much for the encouragement, Amanda. I’m so proud of all God is doing in your heart and life. Much love to you!
3 things real quick.
I remember a few weeks after Grant first showed up to our small group he twittered me to tell me that he wasn’t going to make it. The Grammy’s (or some music award show) was on and he does a live commentary on it every year that a lot of people look forward to. I’m not sure why, but instead of just saying, “That’s cool, I understand. See ya next time.” like I usually would have. I said “Don’t miss tonight. I think you should be there.” He came and that’s the night we really connected.
Second thing, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the response of that small group and how much they loved Grant and believed in his story. I mean, I was finding money that was donated a week later in my pants because people would run up to me and hand me money for him and I would stick it in my pockets. I met people for coffee who were going out of town and knew they just had to give. I went to their houses and got money out of mailboxes…it was insane. Never forget that moment, Grant. I know you won’t.
Third thing. Every person who has led “Stretch” has lost a job at some point. Don’t lead Stretch if you love your job. 😉
It was the Grammys, and ditching them was the best thing I could have done. I will never forget what you did for me. Mad love for you, brother.
i have loved watching God’s grace unfold in your life over this past year. that’s Him there, loving you through His people. and it’s incredible to see.
Thank you so much, Alece. Come back to Nashville. 🙂
it has been so amazing watching how God is working in your heart and your life and your circumstances this year. It has been heart-inspiring so many times! I love that God did this for you through community and I can’t wait to see how He guides you in the coming years to encourage others (as you are already doing) 🙂
Love me some community… if I named all the times they came alongside of me, I would take up a whole blog post 🙂
Bless you, Jenny. There were many more who selflessly gave to and walked with be me throughout this whole season whose stories have yet to be told. You are such an encourager and I love it!
beautiful beautiful beautiful example of the Church, the community, and the importance of sharing your story. each time i read a tweet about CP Stretch i am encouraged that community can exist, does exist and that one day, hopefully soon, i will find it.
thank you for sharing another part of the miracle God is working out in you and through you Grant.
Thank you, my friend. You’ll find it. Praying for you.
This is a great story! Grant you have a heart of gold and I am glad that I stumbled upon this article. Definitely hope we can catch up soon.
Thanks so much Trevor. I’d love to reconnect when you get back to town after the Christmas break!
Grant…thank you for sharing an amazing story. What makes a community is the heart of the people. Even when you didn’t have anything financially you still gave to all those people in your time and energy. You are very blessed to have found a true community, don’t take it for granted because it is a rarity to find.
You’re right, Lisa. I wish it weren’t, but it is indeed a rarity.
Grant, I will never, ever forget that day or that moment with you and the rest of Stretch. You could literally feel the love pouring out in the air from everyone as we watched your reaction to Wes. Thank you for being as transparent as you have been during your journey. I’ve learned so much from you and am very blessed to call you my friend.
My life has forever been changed because of community. I came downstairs with similar feelings to you. I’m used to be the new kid, and was terrified sitting down on the bleachers. I think I had been there all of 60 seconds when Andie Wright & Melissa Edwards asked if I was new and began to genuinely speak to me. I was floored–I had friends…at CHURCH!
Stretch opened my heart to the joy of serving others. They helped plant that seed that God has now taken and sown into a plan for my life. The night when I shared just a fragment of my story with the large group, and felt so much hurt tearing me up inside…countless people embraced me in tight hugs. There was no judgement, only love. As the holidays have come upon us, family has been heavy on my heart. God has blessed my life with something so much more than what started as community. He’s given me family. I love doing life with you guys. I have received and truly FELT more love since coming to Cross Point, than I have in my entire life.
Thanks, Morgan. I’ve loved seeing you experience life and heart change as you’ve dug deeper into the community at Cross Point and Stretch. Glad you’re a part of what’s happening there.
Great Story bro! Thanks for sharing! Community is essential for a person to be apart of transformation. It is the giving and receiving that is needed in each of us to become the person He intends for us to become! Sometimes it involves money, sometimes it is a listening ear, advice, prayer or a shoulder to cry on. One of my most vivid memories and impactful experiences in community was when a community group that I led had our own impromptu “foot washing” experience, and it happened on a night that I wished I could have cancelled group. But to see the humility in some of my friends that evening was amazing. It was authentic community. Love it!
Keep doing what you are doing. I can’t wait to hear the story of the next person within the Stretch group that you lead the stretch group to reach out too and help. It will happen!
Wow, what a great story! And I agree with you, Kevin. I will happen. Thank you so much for the encouragement.
What great discussion and stories. Grant, thank you for sharing with us and inspiring us!
Jenni, thank you once again for the opportunity to share this part of my story here.
Grant, I have quietly observed bits and pieces of your life go through this winter, spring, and now summer season. It has been one of the most fascinating journeys to watch, and to call you a friend is an honor. Grant you personify what it means to “be a blessing” and have become Jesus in the flesh to so many, for me it has been in so many little nuggets (texts, tweets, blogs) you have shared over the last six years. I love you my friend all the way from Colorado!
Josh, I’m just now seeing your comment. I am very humbled by your words, my friend. Thank you for the encouragement and for sticking with me even though it’s been way too long since we’ve actually spoken. 🙂
You’re sentimental and I want my money back. Boom, roasted!
Ha, man, I’d imagine a lot of us would do it a thousand times over. You’ve played a pivotal role in so many lives, mine especially, and there’s just no amount of money that is worth. Continue to be humbled and allow God to shape you into something more beautiful than you could have ever imagined (figuratively speaking, of course).
Love this post, Grant. When Blake encouraged me to try out Stretch last June, I pretty much thought he’d lost his mind. But over the past year I’ve yet to really figure out how to express in words or actions just how much Stretch has meant to me. To have a group of people that truly invest in the good, bad and ugly of your life, and you in theirs–brings up such overwhelming love that I’m not sure there ever will be words to describe it. And to have community that has grown even outside our group… While I know I still have a long way to go, it has impacted me in such a way that I am happy to be broken and striving for a life that is beyond me and my expectations. Never in my life would I have thought that this past year could have brought about the joy and peace that I’ve spent most of my life searching for. And it’s come through doing life with people that I’m happy to include in the term “family” and serving beside each other with a common goal of showing the love that we’ve been given to others.
Love this, Grant! The power of community is amazing.