monday groups: a wesleyan small group experience

Do you have a friend who lives their faith in a way that inspires you? They’re discipling you.

Who has shown you hope in the midst of terrible pain? They’re discipling you.

Got someone who shares with an honesty and vulnerability that takes your breath away? They’re discipling you.

As an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, I’m responsible for how we order the life of our church so that disciples are growing in their faith, trust and love of God and others.

But how does that actually happen?

It happens by accident a lot. We make friends and see how their faith is a lens for every decision and how they rise from every fall. We’re being discipled. Organically. Naturally.

And sometimes I worry that my attempt to organize and systematize discipleship will take the Holy Spirit right out of it. So we keep experimenting with what clicks naturally and systematically.

We found something that’s working in our context of the Pacific Northwest, so I thought I’d share. It’s a hodge podge of elements I’ve picked up from others over the years. We’re all experimenting with how faith grows in today’s culture so we’re in this together!

We started Monday groups at our church in March. We could probably come up with a better name than “Monday groups” but it works for now.

It’s so simple that it surprises me every week.

1. We put the word out that the groups were starting right after Easter. It would last nine weeks. We continue to find short term commitments are great for lots of people. Free childcare provided.

2. Gather in a large group at the church and share a little about our week (simple ice breaker question).

2. Read a small piece of the Bible together. We finally made it to the second chapter of Mark this past Monday after 2 months!

3. Discuss. Question. Laugh. Wonder. Together. (Lectio Divina)

4. Spend 20 minutes with a small group we’ve gotten to know over the past few months. Take turns answering some of John Wesley’s accountability questions.

5. Gather in the large group for prayer requests and then pray together.

6. The groups exchanged contact info on the first night and encourage each other during the week with text messages. They check in with their group and follow up with someone who wasn’t able to come. The relationships have kept people consistent. There were 16-20 people most nights and that’s about what we started with.

7. We’ve had people come as a guest on Sunday morning and ask where they can get connected. I’m able to share we’ve got an open group the next night. They’ve come, made new friends and stayed engaged.

That’s it. And disciples of Jesus Christ are being made right in front of our eyes.

We’re growing in our faith, our relationships with each other and our compassion for our community.

Sometimes we make this whole discipleship thing too difficult. May the Holy Spirit continue to do the work when we simply show up and pay attention.

Feedback:

“Open discussion, scripture based, meeting & learning about everyone, casualness, praying outside, laughing. I appreciated that while we were supporting another, we were looking inward as well.”

“I’ve always felt intimidated by the Bible. I never picked up to actually read it. I learned to take it one small step at a time and that I’ll learn more in a group. My faith has always been “child like”. I’ve learned that a more fact based, intellectual faith is a good thing. My faith is gowing… plain & simple.”

“Listening to others experiences, supporting, being supported. I loved the small group that we broke in to. I feel a sincere connection and a source of encouragement.”

“It’s confidential, safe, encouraging, informative and provides insight. It’s also fun and a really great way to meet others in the church.”

“I learned to even further distance myself from any pre conceived ideas as building the relationship with others really freed me to be willing to trust those I may have previously assumed would not accept me.”

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