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Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.

Hello Friends: 6.21.12- Think Seasonal in Small Groups

Hello Friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot about seasons lately. 

Even as I write this article I am staring out a cafe’ window into bright blue skies, but I know (here comes my sarcasm) that this will be short-lived. Within moments that blue will be secretly replaced with a dark gray and the sunshine will become liquid. It’s been said that if you don’t like the weather in the Northwest, just wait five minutes!

All that to say, I’m anxious for us to hit a long stretch of summer weather. Are you?  Don’t most people enjoy the subtle shifts in seasons? Regardless of what season it is, we take delight in the tried and true reality that another season is just around the corner.  Nothing is entirely permanent. Nothing is forever. 

Why is this?  Well, it all starts with God.

From the very beginning (literally Genesis), we discover the Lord in creation. For six days he made everything, including us. The creational account captures a wonderful phrase and a wonderful priority.

The wonderful phrase is “And there was evening and there was morning…” This communicates that each 24 hour day of creation was punctuated by a determined duration of time and a corresponding point of closure. The universal equalizer is that each of us lives with a 24 hour timetable. That is all the time we have in the day; no one has more and no one has less. When we shave off roughly 6-10 hours for sleep, each of us are left with approximately 14-18 hours for activity. If we were to be productive every waking moment during each day of the week then it would only be a matter of time before we reached an emotional breaking point (believe me, I know). We were never intended to function at full tilt (although we do try). In any given day we ought to partition time for sleep, work, play, rest and relationships. It would seem as if we are created to break our day into measured chunks. To do any ONE thing ALL day for the ENTIRE week would not only be unwise but extremely unhealthy. Thus, this is the reason that the Lord designed our days to have evenings (night) and mornings (day). It is also the reason that he created our weeks to have a Sabbath break.

The wonderful priority established from the very beginning of time was the seventh day Sabbath. God chose to rest for one entire 24 hour period and he extends the same opportunity (actually a command with a blessing) to us. He graciously gives us six days to accomplish our tasks and then asks us to set aside one day in order to reconnect to him, replenish our souls, and realign our hearts to his purposes. If you have ever taken a Sabbath rest then you know the blessings that are attached to this command. Each and every week we are given a rip cord; a release value of sorts, for our hectic lives. We have a built in “season” each week, in which we are able to do something different, renewing our soul and our motivation to dive into the rest of the week. 

On the fourth day of Creation, God made seasons. We undoubtedly recognize seasons as wonderful, and yet we so often ignore their natural flow and form. We tend to swim against the current and cut against the grain, and then wonder why we’re experiencing difficulties. 

This is particularly true in the local church. Even though pastoral leaders know the biblical imperatives regarding seasons, sabbath and rest, we tend to be the main culprits. We go non-stop, and we verbally or nonverbally require the same of those in our areas of ministry.  

Two aspects of ministry life that are particularly susceptible to this are small groups and serving.

This week I want to highlight Small Groups, then next week my HELLO FRIENDS will focus on Serving.

Small Groups

All small groups are NOT created equal. Anyone who has been in one knows that there are some that are winners and others that are real losers. When you are in a winner group, you can’t wait to come back and you want it to last longer. But, when attending a less than great one, it’s painfully obvious that time can’t move fast enough and that meeting once a week is TOO often!  This is why I love that our small groups are SEASONAL

Even the good groups. Yep, even the good ones. 

We’ve heard it said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” What if our small groups really understood this principle?  What if they had scheduled, strategic seasonal breaks?  Would our hearts grow fonder and our desire to meet increase?  I believe it would. Here’s why:  almost always, when we speak of seasons we wish they were shorter. I rarely hear someone wish it was longer. Even in nice times such as the warm summer you will occasionally hear people say, “Oh, I can wait until those cool evenings of Fall.” What about the season of raising young children?  Most young parents I know think that season will never end. How about a season of enduring a tough boss or work situation? Would the average person want it shorter or longer?  

Survey says: shorter.  

How about seasons of conviction from the Lord?  Again, most would say “shorter.”

Our small groups are seasonal – and that’s a good thing.

Denise and I have been a part of really great, seasonal small groups over the years. We determined to take chunks of time off during the months of August and December. We also don’t meet on peak times such as Spring Break and other high traffic times. We know how crazy those seasons get so we have determined to not kick against the wall, but rather to accept the natural flow and form of our calendars. There has to be times on our calendars in which there is NOTHING happening. When NOTHING happens then the SOMETHING has greater value.  

Go back and read that last sentence again.

We don’t want our groups, hosts and leaders to burn out, so we always think seasonal

During this Summer, will you begin to pray and plan for the Fall when we will kick off our small groups again?  Think about who you would like to meet with. Consider opening up your home to host a small group. If you have a leadership gift then you may enjoy facilitating a small group. We can assist you with materials, tips, and lists of people looking for a place to plug in. Just let Sarah know what you need:  sarah.warnock@wsfc.org

John
Twitter: @johnfehlen
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