My Favorite Small Group Moment
Small groups start at my church this weekend. We call them life groups now, a term that followed small groups, focus groups, shepherd groups (the most awkward of the bunch…try explaining why you have a “shepherd” around the water cooler), and cell groups. I have been a part of small groups from the beginning–actually before the beginning of our church’s official launch of cell groups ministry in the mid-’90’s. I even served as the small groups pastor for eight years.
Something happened in small group once that was a key reason why I wrote Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life). Our group prayed and saw a miracle. Mrs. Right’s eyes were healed that night.
The aftermath of that prayer time continues to be my favorite small group moment of the last 20 years. In preparation to meet with the best small group on the planet this Sunday to watch the Super Bowl and start our study of Andy Andrews’ 100-year parenting course, here’s an excerpt from Stories from the Roller Coaster that details my favorite small group moment.
My Favorite Small Group Moment
I would be remiss to write about the small group meeting where my wife’s eyes were miraculously healed and leave out my single favorite small group moment in over 20 years of meeting with other believers in small groups. The group had an extended time of prayer that night. By the time it was over, we were all lying prostrate on the floor in the Henleys’ tiny den. I don’t remember who was keeping watch over our toddlers in a room in the back of the house, but before we had said the last amen, the kids were turned loose to go back to their parents.
Usually, after what was typically a two-hour small group meeting, the kids came back in with two hours’ worth of pent-up energy to tell us what they had learned and to show us the pictures they had colored or the crafts they had made. On this night, though, they crept into the den so silently during our prayer that we were hardly aware of them. We couldn’t help but notice them after our prayers were exhausted. Lifting our eyes, we saw a layer of children spread on top of their praying parents, soaking it all in and imitating what they were seeing.
I remember standing in the kitchen later that night with Denny Burt, our small group leader. We knew that what we had just seen had significance that would not be quickly lost on anyone who had seen it. He voiced what he and I were both thinking, that if we could fumble around and figure out this small group thing even just a little bit, how much further would they be able to go in their faith journeys?
Of all the remarkable experiences of the season of the mid-1990’s in our church, this picture of children building on their parents’ faith foundation continues to be the most pertinent to me. In light of what God has led me to do now—to help others pass their values from one generation to the next through the stories they tell…and re-tell—I believe the fervent prayers from the Henleys’ living room on a night long ago continue to be answered today.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
A note on this Scripture: Years ago, God taught me a simple but profound way to pray: Acknowledge that he is a consuming fire. Recognize that anything that is consumed is gone and not to be recovered. Then, confess that He is worthy of anything He chooses to consume. Finally, be amazed that what He can produce is infinitely more valuable that what I allowed Him to pry from my fingers in the first place.
Remembering these moments can be like driving a stake in the ground. God may not always answer my group’s prayers like He did that night, but I’ll never again doubt that He can.
I wrote Stories from the Roller Coaster to share the stories of what God has done in my life and in my family. But I also wrote it so that you can connect (or re-connect) with your own stories. If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, why not go ahead and do that now?
Order Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life) and start connecting with some of your own stories that you may have forgotten:
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About Al Ainsworth
Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell. Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales), Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and Coach Dave: Season One. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.