Wednesday, May 17, 2006

No Meeting Tonight!

I love it when I put things on my calendar that don't exist. Love it! We switched our monthly art gallery meetings to bi-monthly and this is an off month. So now, I've no excuse not to blog! Still nothing to blog about, but that's not the point. Blogfodder is all about having nothing to blog about. If I had something important to say, I'd be...what? I'm not sure. That's what I'm exploring right now. What would I be if I had something important to say?

A minister?
A politician?
An author?
A teacher?
A reporter?
A beautician?
A comedian?

Let's move on.

Eric said when things got slow, he was "interested" in hearing about how our church does small groups. Having only participated in one small group on a regular basis, I probably can't intelligently speak to this. But that's never stopped me from speaking before. The church I attend most regularly (my husband is Catholic, so I also attend his church at other times) is large, maybe 1,500 members every week between two services and so, the heart of the church (the discipleship) really is in the small groups. My understanding of how the small groups work is that 1) there are lots of them with many different lines of demarcation such as age, marital status, special interests, etc.; 2) they are all published each week in the bulletin and people can just stop in at the designated time to join (very informal); 3) most meet on site in one of the church meeting rooms although there are also a handful of home based (usually smaller) groups; 4) they are led by folks who have been approved in some manner by the pastor (I've never put myself up as someone capable of leading a small group so I don't know what this entails exactly); 5) with so many groups to choose from, selection is mostly by word of mouth; 6) each may have a different style of leadership, from those who lead by teaching, to those who lead by facilitating group discussion, to one-on-one discipleship, to who knows what; 7) some are topical discussions while others study the Bible book by book, or my favorite, interweaving studies of the Old Testament with the New.

I think the most meaningful job anyone can have, if they truly have something important to say, is that of minister/pastor/preacher/priest. But I do not, so I am not.

Okay, this is funny. I just ran a spell check on this post because I was feeling responsible or something, and the suggested replacement for "blogfodder" was "blackbodies." No joke. I'll try to remember that, but I'm letting "blogfodder" stand. Thank you, spell checker.


At 10:01 PM, May 17, 2006, Blogger Eric said...

OK, that is interesting! I'm so used to having centrally organized and carefully frameworked small groups that I'm always amazed when I encounter a setup like yours that seems so loose and independent and, well, non-traditional ... and yet it works (or, at least, that's my assumption).

Do most of the groups meet on Sundays, or are the times as varied as the groups themselves? Is there any central oversight of the curriculum chosen by each group? How strongly does your church promote active participation in a small group?

Inquiring minds want to know! ;-)

[I'm glad you didn't have a meeting tonight, after all.]

At 11:15 PM, May 17, 2006, Blogger Rach said...

Ours are operate the same as Gwynne's and usually on a Wednesday although it is varied depending on the groups. We each choose our own theme and it is promoted as very worthwhile in the Church (Hey I know this is not my blog but I'm throwing my 2 cents in anyway!).

Glad you didn't have a meeting too Gwynne!

At 6:30 AM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Ellen said...

The church I'm leaving has a bunch of "ministry groups" that pretty much all follow the same thing that the pastors are preaching about - right now they've got an 8 week series about heaven.

At 7:47 AM, May 18, 2006, Blogger beth said...

We're a fairly traditional "Sunday school class" type church here - so you get 'assigned' (I use that loosely since you can certainly choose to go elsewhere and they do have some looser groups) based on age/marital status. I hate this demarkation, usually, as people our age who are married usually have a small hoarde of children. And it seems that moms in the SBC tend to all feel that the Godly thing to do is lose the ability to talk about anything other than said hoarde. Kinda makes me a fish out of water. Thankfully our SS class at the current church is only 33% that way, the rest of the ladies all seem to have managed to stay normal. (Gives me hope that it can be done.)

I look at setups like your church Gwynne and am half interested but also half wary and half wondering if it really works well to get honest to goodness discipleship if you can pop from group to group each week - kinda loses accountability, even for long term group stayers (or at least I'd have a hard time being very open in a group that changed constantly) - or did I miss that you commit to a study and then change when studies change?

At 7:59 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Eric, most of the diversity is in the leadership style, there is less diversity maybe in the curriculum, although I don't have much basis for comparison. Every week, the Pastor (or the Pastor and his staff) set out a lesson for most of the small groups to cover. For ex, last week's lesson was "shall we sin that grace may abound?" Coming up are a few weeks on The Da Vinci Code. But this still leaves a lot of room for how the lesson will be studied. I'm not sure what kind of accountability the leaders have upstream. Most of the small groups are held Sat evening and Sunday morning, leaving the rest of the week for classes, youth groups, special prayer groups, etc. It's a very full calendar! And it was actually this (our girls' youth group) that pointed me to this church (the Catholic Church my husband likes offers none of this).

Beth, as for the accountability of the group members, it seems that most people do stick with one group once they've found one that "fits." Me, personally, I have a hard enough time warming up to one group and would find it very difficult to hop around. It's not like a weekly potluck. ;-) But the idea is that there's no fixed start date or sign-up process. If you're new to the church or new to the groups, it's never too late to join a particular group. And I don't blame you at all for being frustrated by the age/marital status demarcation. Our church has several groups for young families or parents with teens, but I've steered clear of these because I really need straight Bible time.

At 9:38 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

I just read my last comment. Of course, "there is less diversity in the curriculum" which is basically the Bible, upside down and backwards. ;-)


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