Small Groups at the 2019 Holiness Institute
“What the Group Meeting Meant to Us”
Group 2, Facilitator Col. Richard Munn
We discussed four questions in our group. I’d like to share our answers to those and then give a summary of how our group discussion seemed useful and meaningful, both to certain people, and to the group as a whole.
The first question was, what main ideas are you going to take from the sessions? Answers that received agreement within the group included:
- the Wesleyan distinctives (the scriptural basis for them, and the fact of them as a pillar of the Salvation Army)
- the concept of blamelessness (its definition, and some useful analogies)
- the Prayer of Silence along with the idea of lifting the veil to let Christ change you
- the way that the focus on “the Mind of Christ” brought a positive spirit to the meetings, especially for new Salvationists
- Sanctifying grace as something that we can both receive, and extend to others through the power of prayer
The second question, after some personal sharing around the circle, was what can we take from this group discussion? Two things stood out, one being that, as spiritual as we all may feel at a seminar of this sort, integrating what we learn into our very real life situations is still hard. And two, for some people, trusting God is the main challenge.
The third question: How can we help the community of our home corps in terms of spiritual formation/ holiness? Our ideas were to first correct misconceptions about holiness itself, by affirming that we can all be holy in the present. We don’t need to wait, we just need to let the Holy Spirit work in us. Also, we felt it important to set an example of how to be an accepting community — people who support each other in their seeking for holiness, rather than isolating ourselves or competing with others.
“What word speaks to my journey?” was the fourth question. Of course, HOLINESS came up a lot. Specifically, teaching holiness — what it is, why it’s important; and pursuing holiness with PERSEVERANCE. Others were ENCOURAGEMENT, TRUST, COMMITMENT, VOCATION. Also we heard NURTURING, in the sense of providing a foundation for children; COURAGE to hand fear to the Lord, and listen for His voice through negative circumstances; and HOPE, which keeps us open to God’s work in our lives.
Over all, the group experience was very positive, notwithstanding the fact that some people took a bit of time to share difficult situations that awaited them at home. This just highlighted the need people have to be deeply listened to in a safe and caring environment. So it was useful to them, and a privilege for the rest of us to share their burdens and pray for them, not just during group but also since then. We were also able to share situations in our home corps within this safe environment. You never want to complain to unbelieving friends about church stuff, but in this group there was sympathy and understanding, while the focus stayed on solutions rather than judgment. Some people were more talkative than others, but Col. Mun encouraged everyone to have their say, so the flow was good. I think we all got a taste of how Wesleyan small groups could be meaningfully incorporated into the life of our corps, both to bring a sense of community, and to further the work of spiritual formation.
Thanks again to everyone who made the weekend a true spiritual feast. God bless you!
written by SS Amy Nicholson, Syracuse Citadel