Vicar's Letter for July - Small Groups at Holy Trinity
If you remember, at the APCM this year I shared a verse from the Acts of the Apostles. St Luke comments that the early Christians “... devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” I love imagining what that must have looked like in the years after the resurrection as the fledgling church slowly grew and expanded. There are many things we don’t know about how the first Christians lived and worshipped, but we get a number of glimpses from books in the Bible like Acts. Verses like the one I’ve just quoted emphasise that in the early church, coming together in small groups, building relationships, praying together and sharing everyday life experiences were incredibly important.
As you may know, the Lent course this year was structured slightly differently. Rather than having one central Lent Course, we had three groups meeting - one in the church, one in the rectory and one in Jean Hardie’s house. I said at the time that these Lent groups were intended as something of a ‘half-way house’, and now it’s time to take them the next step forward.
Starting in September, my hope is that we will have two small groups meeting regularly in the parish. The dates, times and frequency will depend on the members of each group. During the Lent course we looked at different themes from the Psalms - hope, doubt, love etc. - focussing on a different psalm each week. In these groups we’re going to start by looking at the ‘big story’ of the bible. How does it all fit together? Is there a common thread that runs from the beginning to the end? How do those lovely bits from Isaiah we read at Christmas fit into the story that God is telling through history? Sometimes the Bible can seem so disparate and unconnected - it feels almost impossible to try and work and out how it all hangs together, especially on our own.
Coming together in small groups is a great opportunity to get to grips with some of the trickier questions and difficult passages of the Bible and to reflect on how our faith impacts our lives. They can also be a wonderful source of support and encouragement. Don’t feel intimidated about coming if you feel a bit a shaky either in your Bible knowledge or in your faith - it’s not a ‘quiz’, but rather an opportunity to ask questions and discuss together.
However, in order for this to happen we need two people who would be willing to host this on a regular basis. I think it’s important this is something which happens not in church but in our homes - if this is something which is about relationship building, trust and fellowship then it works much better in an informal home setting than it does in church.
Would you be prepared to host one of the groups? It would mean hosting a handful of people regularly in your home - maybe once a fortnight. That doesn’t commit you to every single week. If you’re away or can’t make it then the group could meet somewhere else or possibly in church. Or perhaps after things become established one or both of the groups might choose to rotate the hosting each meeting. However in the short term and to help things get settled it would be good to have a regular venue for each group. Agreeing to host doesn’t mean that you have to lead the discussion. All the materials are provided and initially I’ll probably be leading both groups, but again when things become more established other people may want to have a go at that.
If you feel that you could offer this then it would be a really important part of helping us at Holy Trinity to get to know our faith better. It’s a role that doesn’t require a theological education but can have a massive impact on people's faith and be an important part of growing God’s Kingdom here in Southchurch.
So, is this way he is calling you to serve him? And please, don’t just skip over that question - actively think and pray about it.
Yours in Christ,