Ever since Jesus called together 12 disciples small groups have proved to be vital for growth - they are essential for fellowship, discipleship and mission. I won't detour to labour my conviction that small groups are the life-blood of growing churches, like cells of a living organism.
What happened on this Saturday, right there and then, was the birth of groups who felt that God was calling and gifting them together in particular ways. One group focused on evangelism, another on pastoral care. Others took up world development issues, offering practical help, church history, and health and healing. By listening to God and each other, people were drawn into new dimensions of sharing - into many different ways we could exercise gifts God has given us. We pledged to meet again and help these groups move from embryos into toddling....and maturing.
It had seemed self-evident that the best way for people to grow together would be to share in small groups. Not for the sake of activism but for deeper belonging. But the speed and enthusiasm took my breath away. After all our agenda praying, this was a startlingly clear answer for this day. Was God signalling just how important small groups would be for the future of the whole church? The Holy Spirit seemed to be sparking off small group happiness and purpose. In the prayer book the entry for May 13th. 1980 reads:
Thanksgiving for the signs of the Spirit in our midst and the outcome of the Church Conference in groups of various kinds.
And what kinds! The Evangelism Group set itself to prepare for visitation and planned a project in one of our villages to help a struggling Baptist Church. The World Development group worked toward celebrating 'One World Week'. The Church History group committed itself to a serious study of our own church history. The Service to Society Group began collating details of projects and organizations to which individuals were already committed in order to identify issues for prayer and cooperation. The Pastoral Group focused on the key issue of befriending visitors and how to encourage members to welcome others. Each group wrote in the monthly magazine to canvas support and tell out their vision. Would this have happened without prayer? I don't think so. I shall always be grateful for this fellowship beginning and particularly for two other new groups ...see next time.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
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