By Rev. Becky Brown
Keith and I, along with 22 others, have begun a new adventure in adult discipleship since September. As our vibrant church continues to grow, we have found the need to consistently establish new Sunday School Classes and other small groups/classes to provide a place for people to connect with others and grow in faith. We have known for several years that we needed to begin new small groups that were different from a Sunday School class, simply because new people were coming in to the church asking for them. Our Adult Discipleship Team evaluated all our opportunities for growth and highlighted this hole or shadow in our ministry. We are excited to share this new ministry with you.
Journey Groups are small groups of 8-12 people who commit to journey alongside one another in faith. These groups are closely modeled after John Wesley’s Methodist Movement Class Meeting. In the late 1700s, Wesley, in his quest to revitalize the Anglican Church, established Class Meetings for adults to share their faith and experiences with God. Wesley had experienced the power of a small group, knew the benefits to his own faith journey, and he wanted to share that with other Christ followers. The strength of the class meeting is attributed to the sustained growth of the Methodist Movement that eventually became a major Christian denomination.
Journey groups are different than a Sunday School Class or a Bible study. The group isn’t gathered to discuss curriculum, walk straight through the Bible, or discuss a theological book for reflection. They’re not information-driven. They’re also not affinity groups, which are groups gathered for common interest (for example: walking groups, music groups, supper clubs, athletic teams or gym classes). Journey groups gather consistently once a week for a little over an hour with the same 8-12 people for about a year. Once the groups are established, most of them are closed. The reason is, the level of sharing and vulnerability needed to fully engage in a journey group requires the group remain a safe space for those involved.
Journey groups provide space for people to share openly about their faith in God. There are 2 leaders of each group, and they set the tone for the sharing within the group. Questions for discussion include: How is your relationship with God: on a scale of 1-10? How is it with your soul? Where have you seen God, or not seen God? The sharing is deeply personal, and the support of the group is powerfully present. The journey group experience is meaningful and life-changing for many. The group seeks to build each other up in love, and to carry one another in faith.
Journey groups are not meant to provide competition for our existing Sunday School classes, small groups, classes, or other groups! We have so many fantastic, deeply meaningful, community minded, mission focused, biblically engaged groups at FUMC. Journey groups provide space for those who are searching for meaning and seek to grow deeper in faith in a different way.
Many of our new journey groups will be launching in January, just after the new year. Each of our pairs of leaders have great ideas and have been through 7 weeks of training. We will begin another wave of Journey Groups leader training soon. We already have a list of folks to include, but if you have an interest in participating in this training, please contact either Keith or myself. We will gladly keep you in the loop and include you in the training. If you have a desire to be a part of one of our new groups, please contact us as well. We would love to consider which group with be the best fit for you and your time availability. We will not have a big all-call sign up for these journey groups. Finding a journey group requires great intentionality, and Keith and I would love to help you navigate it. We hope you will pray about whether God is nudging you to explore one of these new journey groups. Both groups of leaders have practiced the journey group experience, and we have sensed such growth and connection in just 7 short weeks. Contact us: Becky (421-7033), Keith (545-1568).