MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
My first semester of seminary, I took a class called Kingdom, Church, and World. To be honest, I was very cynical about the class. My undergrad was in ministry, and out of the things my professor said we would cover were things I had studied before. That, coupled with the fact that it was a night class which I dislike, had this course set to be a very unproductive class for me.
One of the requirements of the class was for us to form "Wesley-type small accountability groups" where we would discuss reading material and work on progress together. I was really discouraged about this "small group" because group work was something I always despised in college.
It turned out that this group of 5 students turned out to be a much different kind of group. I never had one like it in all of my classes and all of my group work through seminary. We met every week (which was every class period). No matter the assignment, we were to ask each other these three questions:
What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
What temptations have you met with and How were you delivered?
What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
These rules came from John Wesley's Rules for you Bands and Societies, from December 25, 1738. We could re-write these to modern language and say:
What sins have you knowingly committed since we last gathered?
What have you been tempted by and how did you resist?
What actions, thoughts, or words have been weighing on your soul?
These questions forced us to be real with each other about what is happening in our spiritual lives. We couldn't just come and go each week without having real, transformative questions.
WHY 5 PEOPLE?
J.D. Walt writes in his introduction to Awaken, a group of 3-5 people is a good size for a true, heart-to-heart talk. If we want to get real with people, we need to make space for 20 minutes of conversation per person to talk about what's going on with his or her soul. That is hard to do when you have more than 5 people. 20 minutes per person, with 3 people it is 60 minutes, with 5 it is 1 hour and 40 minutes. Having too many people in this type of group means that you don't have space for people to really talk about what is needed. J.D. writes that the goals are:
To strengthen our power through the Holy Spirit
Christ to dwell in our hearts
To be rooted and established in love
Filled with the fullness of God
WHY SAME GENDER?
Yes, we are in a day and age where men and women are equal. And yes, we can talk about all sorts of issues in front of each other. But shame is a hard thing to talk about in front of anyone. Sometimes, it is hardest to talk about in front of our spouse or someone of the opposite gender out of fear of judgement. We don't want to be seen as weak. We need to create space for everyone to be vulnerable and to share.
CAN DISCIPLESHIP HAPPEN SIMPLY?
Yes! "The test of discipleship is whether it leads to outside action," (Awaken, p. ix). A person could know every passage in the Bible, but if his or her actions aren't changed by the knowledge, than discipleship hasn't occurred. By creating a safe space for people to share their spiritual struggles, we are also creating a safe space for questions as they grow in their faith, increasing their spiritual death and all layers of discipleship.
GO−CREATE A GROUP!
It's your time to create a group. What you study is up to you. We are here to help though. Go find 2-4 friends (plus you of course). Pick a time and place to meet. You're all set. Seedbed is committed to helping further our Wesleyan heritage. They have developed a free app and lots of studies in the app to help small groups of 3-5 grow through this model. Wesley called this type of group a Band. At Shalimar, we call them Micro-Small Groups. They are small but they are powerful.
Once you create a group, contact us and let us know, so we can support you in your journey.