Building Community in a Sideshow World

In the days between World War I and World War II, sideshows became a traveling entertainment phenomenon. A barker would stand outside of the venue to hype the unique features of people who were part of the show. A bearded woman, a three-legged man or a man with crab pinchers for hands were all real people in various sideshows. It seemed that the more unique the physical anomaly, the more people would come to see the show. The barker’s description excited some children and scared others, intriguing both men and women, but not all.

A movement broke out to end the shows. The protesters claimed that these shows were exploiting people with physical differences and this wasn’t right. It is easy to support this cause and side with the protestors. Surprisingly, one group that stood against the demise of the sideshow was the people in the show themselves. They reasoned that they were paid handsomely and often couldn’t find regular jobs. “Who wants to hire a woman with a full beard?” one of the performers explained passionately. The defense of their traveling society became more about connection than simply about preserving a job. “We understand each other,” one person shared. “We have a community. We are the lucky ones, because we understand that people are only people.”

Their story reminds me that everyone needs connection. Everyone. And there are certainly times when connection can seem elusive. Where does one find it?  FirstChristian Church is a great place to find connection. Small Groups exist in part to help people build relationships. A Small Group is a group of 8-12 adults who gather weekly to share life together. Groups are formed in September and January and meet for two terms; the Fall/Winter term meets between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, and the Winter/Spring term meets from late January into early April.

The connection that one experiences through involvement at church has fantastic benefits. In a “Faith Matters” study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, sociologists discovered that 33% of people who attended church services every week and reported having three close church friends were extremely satisfied with their lives. It has been said at FirstChristian Church, “In Community We Thrive!”  Now we have more research to back it up. Join a small group today!

In Community – We Thrive,


If you are interested in signing up for a small group or being a small group leader, complete the Connection Card attached to your Sunday bulletin or learn more by visiting our website fcnorfolkk.org/small-groups Small groups begin the week of September 16th.

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