Before that though, ahead of the kickoff night, my friend and I gathered with other small group leaders in order to get some basic training for our new roles. Fortunately, my friend is a veteran to this kind of thing, and I know I’ll learn a lot just from working with her. But I also tried to soak up the other collective wisdom in the room from the pastors overseeing the curriculum and from the other volunteers.
At one point someone asked how much was expected about keeping in touch with your group members throughout the week, for example through text and email. I pointed out that as a small group member in the moms’ ministry for many years, I always appreciated someone reaching out when there was a particular reason to -- like, getting an email “hug” from the group on the day we put our dog down.
But I heard her subtext -- how deep into relationships do you go?
In the case of a group that is meeting for 8 weeks, with possibility to extend to a second session in the spring, our pastor explained that we are asked to reach out, to provide a space where people can be vulnerable and yes, to pray for them, daily if we can, all of which could provide opportunities for intimate connection.
Then, he said, at the heart of all of these things, we needed to remember foremost that we are meeting our group members at a point in their spiritual journey. Our job is to try to broaden conversations from the day to day struggles to a place where people can consider what God is doing in their lives, where they can pause to listen to what God has to say through a success, hardship, struggle, or grief.
And I as I listened to him, I was acutely aware that I wasn’t talking about how I had a close family member in the hospital. I wasn’t sharing my worries for my family member’s uncertain prognosis. I didn’t want to burden anyone with one more problem they could do nothing about. I chose instead to celebrate with the woman next to me who was still riding the high of her son’s wedding from the weekend prior.
Then I chose to send up my own prayer, asking God to reveal what he was saying to me during this time, knowing that, even though I hadn’t told anyone that day what was going on with me, my pastor had provided the very words I needed to hear...and the very question I needed to ask:
God, what are you saying to me in this?
And now, as I anticipate getting to know the members of our new small group this fall, I pray that God prepares their hearts and that he prepares mine to receive them, wherever they are in life and wherever they are in their spiritual journeys. I look forward to our paths intersecting for awhile and to sharing the walk with new friends.
Here you will find a catalog of my writing and reflections.