A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I began the home group leader qualification process at The Village. This process includes a beast of an application followed by an interview with one of the groups pastors followed by whatever else they think is necessary. I started thinking about home group philosophy a couple weeks ago when I had a conversation with my friend Mike, but I realized I was thinking organizationally and not organically. I was thinking about how to help The Village push down our core values into home groups, but not necessarily thinking about how I would love the men in my group well. They are definitely related, and maybe inextricably connected, but the former really won’t happen without the latter. Interestingly enough, as I read Bread and Wine a few of Shauna Niequist’s words helped to inform how I should pursue the organic piece of home groups.
Shauna says that when people are at her table, taking part in community at her home, she wants them to feel “fiercely protected from the crush and cruel of the day.” This, if nothing else, this is what needs to happen. Because that’s what a home is. The difference between going home and going to a hotel room after work is that home is a place you can just be. You can let the day slip away and relax, or you can surround yourself with family that will help you bear the weight of an otherwise crushing day (Gal. 6:1). Before a home group can be anything else, it first has to be home. It has to be a place where people feel loved, accepted, and protected – even if that means speaking hard truths to help protect them from themselves.
Start Where You Are
I know I’ll mess up. I know I’ll make mistakes. By God’s grace, if being a group leader is where God leads me, I won’t be walking this path alone. I’ll have pastors and mentors and friends and brothers walking with me as I crawl and walk and run and face plant and get back up again. Twenty years from now I’ll still make mistakes, though hopefully not the same mistakes. But starting. Starting is what’s important. Relying on God’s grace, mercy, and strength and starting where I am. That also means before September when my group launches. Starting and continuing to minister this way within my current home group, though not through teaching necessarily. Rather through one on one time and investing in the lives of my current group. Through hanging out on the weekends and random text messages during the week. And I know I’m not the only one doing this. If to do nothing else, we do it to say, “We care, and you’re not walking alone.”
The Little Things
In Bread and Wine, Shauna talks about her group of women who get together once a month to cook different meals and enjoy the fruit of their labor by eating together. Once a month for three years and these women are like family, and it probably didn’t even take that long. Because it’s not just the monthly meal times that connected them, but the little things in between the gatherings. Part of my fear in this is stepping out of my current group and into the unknown of leading a group of guys who I may not even know yet. At first I may feel that loss, but I know that those friends will still walk with me, and that it won’t be long before my new group feels like a band of brothers who would do anything for each other. The weekly meetings are crucial, but it’s also the little things that matter. The deep conversations and the superficial laughter and the joys of chicken wings and beer. All of this grows the group together, and all of this grows us deeper in Christ.