(JESUS SAID,) “WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED IN MY NAME, THERE AM I IN THE MIDST OF THEM.”
– Matthew 8:20
Dear Church Family,
It was a simple question, one they asked every week at the close of their time together. “Where did you see Jesus this week?” Whether they were at their regular time and meeting place, or on a mission or ski trip, at the end of the day, they would sit in a circle and ask this question. Everyone was expected to answer, although, no one was forced to answer. Sometimes a person would have two or more things they wanted to share. Other times they might tell the group, “I’ve got nothing tonight.” Most of the time, everyone had something to offer.
What struck me about this practice was the simplicity of this exercise and how deeply it affected the people in the group. It was not a competition. It was a time filled with caring and trust. The people involved were the young people in the youth group of the church I was serving. What I did not realize at the time was they were modeling the class meetings that grew the Methodist Church in our earliest days.
Early in our history as Methodists, you had to take part in such a meeting on a regular basis in order to be a Methodist. The church grew and reached countless people. Then we got “successful,” “mainstream,” and “comfortable.” We forgot the importance of focusing on growing disciples and doubled down on signing up members. The end result is that the United Methodist Church is getting smaller. The good news is we can do something about that. One way is to reclaim the class meeting. In the coming year, our church will begin forming small groups of volunteers to take part in class meetings. As the program grows, it will be opened to more and more people. Eventually, it would be great if everyone had this opportunity for growing as a disciple, even people we have not met yet.
Please pray for our church. Please pray for these small groups. The groups will meet on a regular basis, the when and where determined by the group members. There is not curriculum to buy or study. Instead of learning about spiritual growth, the intent is to actually grow spiritually. The meetings will be about an hour long. This is not in place of Sunday morning classes. I am currently in such a group and personally witness to the importance and impact of this practice. My prayer is that our church will grow in discipleship through this experience so we can experience and share the Good News as effectively as possible.
Grace and Peace,