The Story is a Midweek Experience group that began last fall. It is led by Roger Scarlett, with three breakout groups led by Tom & Nicole Reedy, Matt Kerr, and Jake Marsh. The Story is a bit unusual in that it is a "short-term" group that uses a 31-week curriculum! It is by far the lengthiest curriculum that has been used by a McLane small group in recent memory. "When we offered it as an option at our September GroupLink, I thought that the length would scare off most people who were looking for a shorter study option," said Roger. "Surprisingly (to me), we had 27 people sign up for this study. It has been a wonderful experience over these past many months, as only two of our original class had to drop out. The overall attendance has stayed very consistent at about 21 people coming each week...and that was during one of Edinboro's harsher winters. These folks are really committed and are having a wonderful experience!"
The curriculum is a survey of the Bible. It is video-based, using a 13 minute message from Randy Frazee to supplement the chronological Bible reading that the class does each week before the meeting. A participant guide helps to frame the small group discussion. We use a DVD for the video component, although it is also available via the McLane Church subscription to RightNow Media.
The beginning of the meetings are a combination of whole group discussion and video viewing to help set up the scene for the small group breakout meetings that follow. Each small group has about 6-9 people, a wonderful size for good discussion. We wrap up with a large group summary of the week's major points and then have the individual groupings pray over the needs that they share. Some of those closing prayers have gone on for quite awhile.
"I think that it is possible that at least one of the groups within our overall MWE group may go on to become a regular small group after we finish up The Story. What a wonderful way to launch a group", says Roger. This is a first time experience of small group leadership for Tom & Nicole and for Jake. They are doing a wonderful job and seem to really enjoy their part in the overall structure of the larger group.
This Midweek Experience class, as with the others that started last fall, has been held off-site on Wednesday nights. It started out at the Comfort Suites on the hill by I-79. Roger recalls "It was a bit snug there, but workable for us. The other MWE groups were meeting at the Girl Scout headquarters and at Van Matre Funeral Home. After the other classes completed there runs, The Story moved down to the funeral home where we have been meeting since December."
The original plan was to rotate the group members every six weeks or so, but they became so well bonded that this idea was discarded. "When people are becoming open to go deep with each other, you don't want to damage that by constantly changing up the people in their group," said Roger. "There's a level of trust that takes some time to develop. Open sharing and meaningful prayer doesn't just happen overnight. We decided that we'd forego the group shuffling and do a social event in January to help people get to know one another a little better."
The Story is scheduled to finish up in mid-May. What happens then? Roger says "After that we will probably schedule another social event to celebrate our time together. I'm guessing a spring picnic might be the way to go."