by Kenny Rader
Some of you have asked for details about the connection group starting January 8, so let’s address some of your questions.
A connection group is what many churches call small groups. These small group meetings have several names, but they serve the same basic function on how they operate. As a general structure, they are groups of people who meet in homes for the purpose of eating, praying, learning, discussing Bible topics, and sharing together. Because we meet in homes, you can understand why they need to remain small in number. Generally, these groups are fifteen or fewer people, and even that, trying to get fifteen people in most living rooms or dining rooms is nearly impossible, so a more real i s t i c number is seven to ten people.
Lots and lots of things happen, but perhaps the most important reason for connection groups is for people to get to know one another intimately as family.
The groups study God’s Word in a variety of ways. Some groups study directly from the Bible. Some groups use a book written for small group studies, and they study one chapter each week. Some groups do a deeper study of the previous Sunday’s sermon or Sunday School lesson. Some groups follow a format of study from the Bible and they discuss how the passage relates to them and how they will build their lives on the teaching of that passage.
The groups eat. YES!!!! FOOD!!!! Uh, not only the kind of food I eat. Years ago, when Martha and I led a small group, each attending family or person brought a dessert or snack that we could munch on as everyone arrived, and then we often kept munching or grazing through the study or discussion.
We have a time of prayer. This often starts slowly because people in a newly formed group are often slow to share personal problems. Prayer requests are often more general in nature at first. As time goes by and the group gets to know one another better, problems often surface, and prayer time hopefully grows into something deeper – much deeper. While every group is different, the group Martha and I led sometimes never got into the study because someone in the group was suffering or had something dramatic occur in their life. This suffering was not typically physical problems as much as mental or spiritual anguish.
Maybe now you can understand why I began this section by saying the group often gets to know each other intimately. Intimacy often takes time, and it may not happen in eight short weeks, but then one cannot limit what God might do. Life happens, and the most powerful aspect of a weekly small group meeting is that the participants become a strong family; a family so interconnected, that when someone from the group has an emergency, the group usually knows about it before the minister or elders. That’s the power of small groups.
A small group of people like we are talking about develops chemistry that defies natural connections. Once people in the group understand one another, a bond often forms. Someone you think you can’t stand might become a close brother or sister that you will defend with your life. It just happens, and you often can’t explain it. Or should we say that it happens by means of the Holy Spirit? I think so.
Ah, here is something difficult to express because it’s beyond anyone’s ability to control. Let me explain. We ask that you sign up for the group. Right now we are only looking at one group, but if we get enough, we can start more than one group.
But here is my dream. I dream of a group consisting of a variety of people with different backgrounds and different ages. I know. I know. Young people usually stick together, and older folks often stick together too. I dream that we might have a group made of a variety of ages. Wouldn’t it be great for young people to learn from older adults? At the same time, the opposite is true. Wouldn’t it be great if we of the older generation could spend time with the younger generation and learn from them too? What would it be like to try to understand a different generation from yours? Well, that’s my dream: to have a variety of ages and backgrounds in the same group. Will it happen? I have no idea. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, well, that might be great too. I’m not God, and I am not about to outguess what is best for the group.
The meeting time is tricky. I’m recommending that we meet at 7 pm for the first meeting, but if the group decides they want to meet earlier, we can do that. What if the group chooses to have a 6:00 or 6:30 pm meal, or just meet earlier for snacks? I don’t care. That’s the beauty of the group. We can accommodate whatever the group decides. The meeting time will be the group’s decision, but for the first meeting, may I suggest 7 pm? If the group chooses something different, that’s what it will be. Here again, this is something I cannot dictate because the group/family decides.
This group will meet in homes. Whose home? Well, possibly mine, but maybe yours too. If you are interested in joining the group, please consider if we might meet at your home sometime. You don’t have to, it’s not a requirement, and I will not twist your arm, but it is great when we can meet in different homes. That way no one has the burden of cleaning their home for company every week. (Now you know what I think of house cleaning.) If no one wants to share their home with us, I will host it, but I already have one volunteer to host at least one week’s meeting.
Well, that’s it! Sign up and join us for eight weeks of enjoyment, learning, and growth.
Love you & God Bless,