Chris and Beth Norris have been leading a small group every Monday night since October of 2012 when they felt called to open their home to people interested in joining a group. "We love hosting people and we were excited by the opportunity to hang out with other Christians," comments Chris. Since their beginning, God has continued to work in the group and use it in instrumental ways. Here are a few snapshots Chris provides to better describe his group:
Snapshot #1: A Weekly Get-Together
We meet Monday at the Shallenberger's home. Since they have kids and so do the Bierers, it makes it easy for the kids to play; plus Stacy is a killer cook! Typically, dinner is first, then we chat about what has been going on in our personal lives; then Sunday's message recap, discussion questions, upcoming events at church, prayer...and a few laughs along the way.
Snapshot #2: Formatting the Lesson
I serve as the liaison for planning our meetings and initiating the discussions and studies. Doug [Bierer] is great about praying and giving good insight on scripture since he has a pastoral background, while Stacy and Steve [Shallenberger] are great hosts.
We find it easiest to take home the follow-up study guide material that is included in the weekender. We always open up our discussions by revisiting Sunday's message, so the study guide makes for a nice transition into discussion questions.
Snapshot #3: Contributing to McLane
God put our group together to serve the church. From early on in our gatherings, we all discovered that we were super passionate about McLane-Erie and wanted to do whatever it took to provide Paul and Joel with assistance in any aspects of the ministry. We are all so grateful that God led us all to be a part of a core leadership group that has contributed to McLane Church Erie's growth.
Doug, Steve, and I helped out with ServErie and Andrea, Stacy and Beth helped with the PowerZone transition from Forward Hall to our new location. We all still serve in various aspects of the church and are always willing to help where we are needed (like our recent outdoor work day!).
Snapshot #4: God’s Agenda
It is always a struggle to work around everyone's busy schedules...especially when you have families with active kids. There have been weeks when we've had to cancel or reschedule. But we have stayed consistent for almost two years now; so clearly, God has more plans for our small group.
Personally, I have learned that sometimes you feel pressured to lead the group a certain way by following procedure in discussions, scripture and prayer. However, more importantly, God loves when a group of Christians get together and enjoy fellowship with one another. Many times, our group gatherings go in a totally different direction than I plan, but I am confident that God is cool with that
Invest in the people in your group; God put them there. Get to know them. Pray for them. Confide in them. Grow in Christ with them. We all have friends that are far from Christ, but small groups are a great place to be around believers.
Snapshot #5: Personal Growth
I have learned so much from my group members, and I am grateful that God has placed them in my life. We all have struggles that we are willing to share because we value each other's opinion and insight. I have gained much confidence in leading Christ-centered discussions as well and have learned so much from engaging with others in those discussions. I have also learned that small groups are not bible studies, they are social gatherings with other Christians.
Snapshot #6: The Big Picture
Through our experience, we have definitely learned how important small groups are to a church. We have developed very strong friendships with one another and are all connected by one common bond...WE LOVE OUR CHURCH!