What a weekend. I feel as if I have hit highs and lows like no-one's business. I am having to do academic work when it feels like everyone else is out playing. But I have been trying to be very disciplined with the result that one of my research papers is now written. Have got to work even harder now to get the second one in by Thursday as I have to do my "real" work Wednesday onwards..... got lots to do to prepare for summer events and more speaking events and training to get organised.
However, it's all for the greater good - not just because I will end up with some more letters after my name (I'm actually quite happy with those I've got) but in this case, because I have managed to conduct a useful piece of work for my church and, more importantly, for a group of people within it, who felt a bit isolated in the Sunday morning gathering or new to faith itself*
I've finished my report on setting up all age small groups, both the practical steps of doing so (which was a much bigger task than I originally envisaged), the steps taken to create teaching material, the response from those who have been attending them for 4 months and the theological rationale behind setting these groups up, beginning with an examination of a trinitarian understanding of community.
Gareth Icenogle wrote:
“The small group is a generic form of human community that is trans-cultural, trans-generational and even transcendant. The call to human gathering in groups is an ontological and theological ministry birthed out of the very nature and purpose of God’s being. God as Being exists in community. The natural and simple demonstration of God’s communal image for humanity is the gathering of the small group.”
Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry, Downers Grove, Ill: Intervarsity 1994, 13
I've found a renewed desire for a genuinely open and honest small group experience has been birthed in me from completing this whole process. I've enjoyed it, even if I could think of a million better things to do at this moment than write it all up!
*Update: I listened to something today about how it's easy to be proud of our pastoral care for those who belong the church. Anything we set up has to be thought of as something for those outwith the church who are yet to come; to attract them to "come, see" to try us out and see if the promises we make about relationship and community are really true. Sobering thought.