I may have lost focus. I may have been selfish. I may have forgotten where I was—or where I was going—or where I’ve been and why this was a blessing from God. But here I am, only writing about this when I feel things are a bit rocky and unsure if I’m catching us as we’re falling or if I’m trying to pick up the pieces.
I was originally going to write why we worked. I first spoke of this small group in my 2012 review.
I heard the church was putting a new small groups meeting on Sunday. This was after I already discovered the young adults group and was thinking about passing on the small group thing and just try to build a small group out in young adults. Even though I intended to go to the meeting, I was making up excuses not to go. Ultimately, I dragged myself and walked back over to the church. I didn’t recognize anyone at this meeting. I sat in the back with a table that looked like young couples. I looked around and it seemed like it was mostly couples and families. Definitely not my demographic. We were asked to break up and find a small group according to location and then similar demographic. I just sat there. I figure I’ll leave unnoticed.
On my way out, I did notice a somewhat younger group to my left. I was compelled to approach them and sit down. It was rather awkward. I came in relatively late and it seemed like I killed the conversation. So now I’m thinking of a not so awkward exit. Well, that didn’t happen. I tried to break the ice with small talk. Eventually the group came back together after we were instructed to answer a few small group questions. It was time to assign roles to the group. Again, up until this point, I still expected to just sort of duck out. I didn’t fill out my sheet. In the end, I was nominated to be the group’s leader—well, more specifically, the group’s facilitator—liaison to the church. That was most unexpected.
After the meeting concluded, I gathered everyone’s contact information, took the small group facilitator folder, and walked over to Starbucks to think this out. I was nervous. I didn’t want this to fail. I felt it was now my responsibility for this small group to be successful. From my past experience, it’s so difficult organize a small group of young adults—who are also busy with their professional career—to consistently get together for something like this. I sat there reading the material figuring out what can I possibly do?
The answer? Nothing.
God made it clear that this is His group. It’s not mine at all. He put us all together for His glory. I was told to act accordingly. I asked for patience and wisdom. I asked that he takes away the anxiousness. I ask that this group will recognize the purpose He wants to give us. That we go on our own little adventure to discover why He put us together.
I remember our first meeting as a small group. We decided to meet at a Panera Bread at the corner of Culver and Barranca. It must have been finals week or something, the place was crowded with college students. I knew there were going to be around 10 new possible members who wants to do this small group thing. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a table. That worrying thought went away in about 3 seconds when I found this huge rectangle table in the middle of the restaurant with roughly 10 chairs surrounding it. I had to look around. There were groups of students everywhere huddled together around these smaller tables. I was a bit confused why this large table remained open despite how crowded the restaurant was. I thanked God, sat, and waited.
As somewhat a joke, I asked everyone to introduce themselves and tell an embarrassing story. I didn’t think it would stick, but the group agreed to do it. We got along pretty well. It was a good first meeting despite not quite knowing what we ought to do. I told everyone I would email them the details of the next meeting.
The group met consistently through the rest of December despite there being holidays. We kept meeting at the same Panera Bread (except for the Christmas party) until sometime past the New Year. We started to meet at Newsong’s prayer room. The original group of people who signed from the start—with the exception of two (and one of them recently sounds like she is making a comeback)—has been very consistent every single week.
It didn’t take long—actually it was almost immediate—that there was a brand new young adults small group at New Song. I’m sure the constant Facebook posts of us hanging out and having a good time helped the publicity, but almost every single time I went to Thursday night’s NYA1, I would get questions about the small group. I didn’t officially close the small group, but I also didn’t actively invite anyone either. I wanted to keep it small. For those who have joined since then has been more like on the heart’s of the other members inviting people in. “I felt really led to invite Chris,” as my friend Jin put it for one of the late members into the group. I wanted to make sure that this group moved as God moved us.
I was asked a number of times why did this new small group work. Why is this one still going after seven months while others failed to meet for a single month. I did answer with placing God as the focus of the group and asking Him to guide us through. Though, I also followed up with an important idea that I quickly discovered after the first week. Everyone in the group had to be willing to be there. I know we all have our own personal hidden agendas of why we want to be a part of a small close-knit community. But more importantly, I think in order to place yourself there, you really wanted to be there and commit to it. Every single person who attended was searching for something missing in their life, and they wanted to see to it if that missing something can be found in a group whose commitment is to both Christ and to each other.
And strangely enough, in order to do so, they actually needed to surrender themselves completely in order for it to work. We needed to give control back to our God. We were all in a similar place of being in the “in-between” life of post-college and pre-marriage. As individuals, we have been controlling our own lives as we moved through these years. But I think the day we all signed up to try this small group thing, we were tired of holding onto said control and wanted to see how we could do it if we did surrender.
Since we started, I’ve been invited out to a number of leadership-type events at my church. I was asked to speak at two other small group launches at Newsong, I’ve been more or less a part of another new small group where their leaders asked me to come out a few times, I somehow took a leadership role in a feeding ministry for Santa Ana, took yet a somewhat leadership role in a morning prayer group that meets twice a week, and had the chance to lead out a couple impromptu worship sessions for different groups at Newsong. I’ve been very busy.
Being constantly busy prevented me of getting the needed rest, prayer, and study that I needed on a weekly basis. Even though I was out for good reason with a good community in Christ, my own prayer and devotional life has been suffering. My first ministry at Newsong was this small group, and it was made apparent to me earlier this week that the slow spiritual growth in my personal life bled over to the overall spiritual growth of our small group. I know I am not the leader or even hold a pastoral role for the group, but I do organize and set the tone for it. And it’s been evident that even though we all love each other and have a lot of fun with each other, we’ve been spiritually stagnant as a group.
We do have a structure where we get into the Word every other week—it alternates between Bible study, a group activity night, and a worship night. It was great at the start of the group. I would ask people to lead out the study and wouldn’t receive any resistance. Nowadays, it’s been getting difficult to get people to lead. And when they do, the group itself doesn’t seem to be in the right mindset to accept the teachings of their fellow peers.
We’re thirty weeks in. That’s thirty weeks in a row that we’ve met since the start of the group’s formation. Our 31st meeting is tomorrow. As an appointed leader for this group, I have a number of decisions to make. I do have a vision for this group. I also have a period of healthy time for this group. Though, these are just my thoughts all with consulting God. I can only pray that as I share my concern and vision for us, that God prepare the hearts and minds of these people who first brought together nearly 8 months ago.
- Newsong Young Adults [↩]