A mentor once said to me: “Who you become 10 years from now will be shaped by two things: 1) what you put into your head (e.g., thoughts, books, media, focus) and 2) who you spend your time with.”
We are entering into year two of our small group ministry. I am absolutely convinced that God will use small groups to transform who we become - as people and as a community - over the next 10 years.
In our parish-wide survey last spring, we asked you what additional information you would need to know before being willing to give small groups a try. Here are some verbatim comments, with my responses:
Q: Run through a typical small group meeting. How does it work?
A: The rhythm or structure of each small group gathering is identical. We’ve settled upon this rhythm through research into best practices, trial & error, and participant feedback. Gatherings last about 90 min and are shaped as follows:
Prayer - a short prayer by the leader to gather people together
Check-in - an opportunity to see how everyone is doing
Discussion - we reflect upon the scripture passage that will be preached the following Sunday
Practice - how might we put what we’ve heard into practice this week?
Worship - close by acknowledging the presence of God through prayer
Q: What is the agenda and purpose of the group?
A: The purpose of a faith-based small group is to build trusting relationships with God and one another. You might think of it as a high structure, low agenda environment. That is, we typically adopt the same rhythm each week (see above), but there is no specific agenda other than gathering around the scripture with others who are also learning. In this sense, small groups differ from OMG Tuesdays in that they are not built around a particular theme or topic. There is no formula, only ordinary people, trying to learn how to follow Jesus together.
Q: When and where do the sessions occur?
A: This fall, we have groups meeting Wednesday afternoons, and Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Groups will formally get underway the week of October 24 and run through the end of May 2023. Most groups meet on a weekly basis. All groups this fall will be gathering via zoom, as they did in year one. When the time is right, groups may move at their own pace toward an in-person gathering - perhaps in someone’s home or the church building.
Curious? Questions? Ready to give it a try? I’d love to hear from you!
The Rev. Andrew Federle