Tonight we start lifegroup through our church. That is a small group of people forming an intentional community meeting together once a week for the next few months for spiritual formation. For the last four weeks, I have been attending a launch session designed to introduce people to the ethos of this communities way of doing community. In the process, I have become the leader of our group. Part of the power that comes with being a lifegroup leader is being able to email the entire group and reminding them to bring their curriculum materials tonight (I read somewhere that this is where Joseph Stalin got his start too…). My role is to facilitate the discussion that comes out of the curriculum and provide direction from week to week.
This is the first small group leadership I have been in since college when I had charge of a formation group. From time to time, I have flirted with the idea of a bible study at our house but for whatever reason it never fleshed out.
Anyway, for the next few months we are going to be examining topics of identity, belonging, and mission, so if my posts seem to follow that vein, please know why.
When I think about being involved with a small group for spiritual formation, I think of three distinct times in my life. First would be a bible study that I led while I was in high school (I must have been a junior, since my brother Zaq was there and he is a year older than me) before school at the coffee shop in Cloverdale (for those incredulous readers, yes, we have a coffee shop in Cloverdale. It has pictures from hunting trips on the walls, but they still serve espresso).
Second is the Sunday School class that my dad taught while we were in high school. It was here that I was introduced to Marcus Borg's Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time and the academic pursuit of the historical Jesus as well as Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship. We also took a Sunday School field trip to the library at Northwest Christian University to research and prepare for a youth Sunday. For all practical purposes, my pop was (and continues to be) a badass at stimulating pertinent spiritual conversation and reflection. He also knows how to work a chainsaw, so watch out.
Thirdly was a group of guys who met for a semester to talk about their integration of faith and share communion together. I worked at Panera at the time, so it was really easy to get good bread. This fellowship solidified some relationships that I continue to count among my closest today and led me to do some things that I otherwise would not have done. (One spiritual exercise I remember was to ask forgiveness from three people I have wronged. Took a tremendous amount of humility.)
Do I expect this lifegroup to have the same impact upon my spiritual development? Not necessarily. But it does have that possibility of introducing me to someone who can challenge me to grow and expand my perspective of life in obedience to the teaching of Christ. It solidifies our involvement with a community of faith so we can grow deeper in faithfulness to the unfolding kingdom of God.
I am excited for the next few months in getting to know new people and seeing each other along on the journey of our discipleship. If anyone feels adrift in their spiritual life, I would recommend getting connected with a group like ours in a church where you are comfortable and finding life within those relationships of people looking for authentic community and growth.
(I'm still thinking about the possibility of a bible study at our house in order to go deeper in exegetical work and interpretation. If anyone has any input, give me a call.)