Part 5 of this “mini-odyssey” continues with up-to-the-current-time anecdotes about small(ish) groups in my Christian journey.
Now in Arkansas for a time, we have committed ourselves to a regular, Wednesday night Bible study of substance. During the first five weeks of our residency, we also made visits or partial visits to 10 churches (or small groups formed out of those larger churches). We have so far had guests in our home once a week, on average. The home visits involve important associations that I do not take for granted.
One comparatively large study group was attempting to tie Hosea’s forth-telling prophecies to 21st-century geopolitics. I walked out of that one at a convenient moment. (There’s only so much of that misguided muck that I can take. I was doing really well to hang in there for 40-45 minutes.) That group was not for me.
Another group used what I consider to a be questionable Bible “study” method. (More to come on that in a few days.) This seemed to be a really nice, genuinely caring group, but, with more than 20 people, it was too large, and volume in the room made my ears hurt.
A dear friend invited me to a weekly a.m. men’s group. After attending twice, I’d call this group an accountability and sharing group (not a study group). Those guys already know a good deal about each other, having built trust over months and years. The aims are good, and the love, genuine, but the chemistry isn’t right for me.
The cell group (which happens to be labeled a “community group”) in which we’ve settled, for the time being, is studying James. The leader is very sincere and obviously cares deeply about both relationship and God’s expressions through scripture. The way we spend time is not always beneficial for all, and the biblical interpretation is a bit uneven, but it is a good group with fine people. We think we’ll hang in there and try to develop some deeper relationships.
A serendipitous, new association has occurred as a result of my attending a woman’s lecture on transparently telling one’s story (and listening to others’ stories). The sister of a college friend happened to be nearby, and she reached out to me (in appreciation for being the only male to enter the room full of women!); our families are soon to meet for a meal. A single meal shared, along with genuine reflections on life as a human disciple, can be an important Christian gathering.
We have enjoyed meals with another college friend and his wife at a restaurant, and with other dear friends in our home. We continue to gain from time with “senior saints” in their upper 60s and 70s, as well as friends closer to our age.
I am beginning to allow the cell group mentioned above, in addition to the more organic get-togethers, to be the core of my Christian associations.