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Group Values: E – Encountering God

This group value is about how being part of a small group allows us to encounter God more intimately.

To help understand the thinking behind this value, here is an extract from Laurence’s booklet, Small Groups – an Introduction, explaining this value.

 

Luke 19:5-8. ‘When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  So Zacchaeus came down at once and welcomed him gladly.  

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”‘

In these amazing verses we read the story of Zacchaeus encountering Jesus and its transformational effect, and perhaps one of the most clearly understood purposes of small groups is to encounter God.

Yes, this happens as we meet on a Sunday but there is something very personal and life changing in meeting God in a small group. This happens through our grappling with scripture together, through our honesty and vulnerability and being prayed for, through the joy of praying for others, in learning to give and receive.

Suddenly it is as if God has stepped out of the shadows and into a much more intimate and close space with us and the intensity of our faith and our experience goes up a jot or two; something special is taking place.

Many small groups around the country have a time of worship that is not necessarily singing as this can be hard in a small group. It is what we call ‘non-musical worship’ where we reflect on scripture, on creation, listen to music and through these different experiences we encounter God. It is extremely hard in a big church meeting to make a more public response.

However asking who wants prayer just becomes a part of the life of a small group and here it is not such a big step to say, ‘pray for me, I am going through a hard time, my situation is difficult’.  As we are prayed for we encounter the living God. Alternatively as we pray for someone else we encounter God through seeing our prayer make a difference.

Small groups become that safe place where we can experiment, experience and encounter God in all sorts of different ways.

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