my involvement in small groups at church has had an interesting path. i sampled one or two in college, another when i went to birmingham and then another at the first church i tried when i moved back to cincinnati. nothing stuck, nothing was compelling.

then i found eastside, and through eastside, a small group where i met the girls who would later become my best friends. it was an unequivocal blessing. that group grew and became too massive and unruly so i left and put my passions elsewhere–into leading the junior high girls and into helpOTR. after being out of a same-age small group for about 10 months, in march i joined up with one. we started off reading “fight like a girl.” and it was what i needed. in tara leigh cobble’s book “here’s to hindsight,” she talks about the Tuesday Night Jesus Club gatherings she and her friends would have down in nashville. i like to think of this as my own little version.

we made our way through “fight like a girl” (a pretty good book, although i’d recommend “captivating” as a more useful and insightful read), and have just started on the relevant book “what now?”. we’re still in the beginnings, but the book is about finding your god-given purpose, and yesterday it included a quiz about uncovering your spiritual gifts. i’d never really taken one of those tests, but this one was really, really interesting. i was actually surprised by the “results” it offered up, and in that way, very pleased. i love when you get epiphanies about yourself that had been heretofore hidden from you. it’s like getting a cupcake with sprinkles or something. very tasty and out-of-the-blue.

the gifts it pointed out for me after a little quiz (that link shows all the possible gifts):

  • mercy; “The special gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to feel exceptional empathy and compassion for those who are suffering (physically, mentally, or emotionally) so as to feel genuine sympathy for their misery, speaking words of compassion, but more so caring for them with acts of love that help alleviate their distress.”
  • faith; “The special conviction God gives to some to be firmly persuaded of God’s power and promises to accomplish His will and purpose and to display such a confidence in Him and His Word that circumstances and obstacles do not shake that conviction.”
  • pastor/shepherd; “The special ability God gives to some to assume a long-term personal responsibility for leadership and the spiritual care, protection, guidance, and feeding (teaching) of a group of believers.”
  • teaching; “The special ability God gives to some to explain the truths of the Word of God clearly and to apply them effectively so that those taught understand and learn. To instruct others in the Bible in a logical and systematic way so as to communicate pertinent information for true understanding and growth.”

the whole “pastor/shepherd” one kind of freaks me out because it sounds so B-I-G, but at the same time it’s really heartening. and makes sense considering the place where i’ve ended up and the relationships i’ve made along the way.

and so, dovetailing on that, another small group is on it’s way, too. eastside has been pushing its new tapestry series and encouraging every person in the congregation to join a small group. i hadn’t heard anything about one for my age group so i volunteered. so far, i’ve heard back from about 1/2 a dozen ladies who are interested. so it should spark some really good dialogue. i just hope i’m not over-committing myself. but i don’t think that god would let me falter when it comes to something that’s concerning him. i think he’ll make it work. i have–say it with me–Faith that he’ll make it a blessing and not a burden.