Because Following Jesus should never be a solo act.
Life never seems quite as scary when you’re surrounded by people you trust and respect. It helps you come out of your shell, stop pretending and face the truth you would normally like to avoid. You can’t grow spiritually unless you’re connected relationally. As you get older, you’ll find all you really want is to be surrounded by good people. People that are good for you, good to you and good for your soul.
Friends sharpen and challenge one another, being vulnerable and sensitive to one another but also making serious suggestions for how the other should change. What you are not changing, you’re choosing. Friends regularly have constructive clashes that sharpen, refine and expand each other’s understanding of the world and of themselves.
Why do I need a small group?
- Because everyone needs a person they trust and can open up to when asked “so how are you, really?”
- There are some needs only you can see. There are some hands only you can hold. There are some people only you can reach. There are some tears only you can dry.
- Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.
- Spend time with people who make you see the world differently!
ARE SMALL GROUPS IMPORTANT?
Absolutely! Temple is well known for its vibrant worship, personal hospitality and community involvement. Yet visitors continue to come and go without finding their place among us or maturing beyond Sunday morning. They remain ‘unrooted’. As we emerge from the recent quarantine, we see how critical it is for all of us to be rooted in our faith. Thom Rainier wrote, “members who connect with a small group are nearly 5 TIMES more likely to stick around than those who don’t.”
Small Groups create rootedness, dependability and connectivity. In a small group, visitors become integrated into the community, faithful in following Christ and future leaders of the church. If we are to thrive in a polarized, secular world with ever increasing time constraints, we must connect at a deeper level. We must become rooted. What happens in a Soul Care group meeting? The short answer is you will become more aware of God’s Grace, more sensitive to God’s Presence, and more responsive to God’s leading. That alone is worth the price of admission. You will NOT, however, be forced to share, pray, read or lead, until you feel comfortable doing so.
Why do I need a community? Because we no longer live in a society that is inherently civil, kind or altruistic, but often demanding, competitive and anxiety-ridden. We no longer live in close family groups that serve as place of refuge. We are more nomadic, wanders, in search of acceptance and assurance.
We need to be much more intentional about creating a safe environment for people to engage in difficult conversations about their fears, build courage and confidence. So as a church leader we must ask ourselves: what are we doing to help foster the deepest, most honest, most compassionate relationships you can forge in this life?
We cannot look at people and see only what they are, we must see what they will be. As leaders, we have to help them become who they will be by making it safe for them to risk leaving where they are and to build trust to travel with us.
INTERACTIVE REFLECTION This is where the rubber meets the road, where penetrating questions unmask the truth and where friends make it safe to see it. There can be no casual observers here, no pretending, and certainly no holier than thou judgments. As disciples we are accountable to the truth of Scripture, the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and coaching from other disciples. So we will pray together, learn from our shared experiences, and listen as the Holy Spirit shapes us into the image of Christ.
EXPERIENTIAL WISDOM A wise person knows that something can be learned from everyone. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Key aspects of our spiritual development include seeing ourselves through the eyes of others, sharing our stories, and ultimately being set free from the secrets. Every wound creates a scar, and every scar has a lesson to learn and share. By sharing our experiences, we glean the deeper wisdom they came to give us.