Last spring, Nancy and I decided to start a small group.
If you are in church circles, that is a code phrase for “people getting together to talk about spiritual things and is the most important thing in the church ever and everyone should be in one and if you aren’t or your church doesn’t have a massive program of small groups you are a complete spiritual failure.”
If you aren’t in church circles, that means a group of people getting together regularly to talk about something that matters to them. Think book club.
We asked about 12 people from our church if they would like to meet for six Saturdays from 6-8 pm in a lounge space at the church to eat soup and talk about six basic spiritual practices: praying, fasting, silence, service, celebration and confession.
And people said yes. And showed up.
Here’s what I learned.
- We just asked. We didn’t worry about some big program, or everyone in the church doing it. We wanted to get to know some other people.
- Having a limit on the number of weeks let people know that it was a limited commitment. That helped a lot.
- We had food together. The hour we spent eating together (and cooking for each other) was delightful.
- I had questions that would foster conversation, but we didn’t stick to the questions. Each week we looked at a few paragraphs from the Bible. Sometimes people would have additional questions about what it meant. Sometimes people would talk about what they had previously been taught. Sometimes people would ask each other questions.
- I did more talking at the beginning of the study than in later weeks. I worked hard to ask more than tell, to deflect answering until other people answered. But I still struggle with talking too much and with not creating a safe space for everyone to talk.
- Not everyone wants–or needs–to talk.
Have you ever started this kind of group? What has worked? What was the coolest thing? And what more would you like to know about our group or about leading/teaching? (I working on a list of specific teaching things as a post for next week.)