(Originally Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2011)
I grew up in a Christian School (an Independent Baptist background) and was saved at the age of 18. Throughout my school career I attended several academic competitions where I competed in categories of Scripture Memorization, Speeches on the topic of Biblical Characters, Art, Vocal Music, and Poetry. I met my husband while attending college. We were married in the fall of 1993. We started a life of ministry together in 1994 with the Southern Baptist Church. My husband, an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention, and I have served in various ministry positions including but not limited to Associate Pastor, Youth Pastor, Church Planter, Worship Leader, Children's Choir Director, Youth Leader and Sunday School Leader. The stories we have collected over the years amaze and tickle us even today.
After 18 years of marriage we are currently in a new phase of our spiritual journey together and are waiting on God to direct us where He would have us to serve and in what capacity He desires. Our daughter who is now 14 recently began her high school career and we are excited to see how the next four years play out for her.
As of 2 days ago I sent in my first article for the Metro Voice Christian newspaper and hopefully, I will have more opportunities to write for them in the future. Then there is the subject of this blog.
I love to watch people grow spiritually. I love to see them empowered by God's love and design for their lives. That is why I decided to seize the opportunity to write reviews for Christian Spiritual Growth studies. My desire is to help those who read my blog to know what studies are out there for them. I do not believe that what is currently happening in the U.S. in the area of church small groups has really been beneficial or effective to the Christian faith or to believers individually. Please hear my heart on this subject. I do not believe that lumping people into large groups and employing the most popular studies of the current day is as good for the cause of Christ as we would like to believe. For years churches have been employing small groups and yet we do not see our nation changing, we do not see our communities changing, we do not see our churches changing, we do not see our families changing, and we do not see individuals changing. Once again, please hear my heart, I am not against small groups by any means. They can be a powerful tool for growth and connection but unless we employ the strong use of scripture in these groups we are fooling ourselves by thinking that they will produce any kind of significant change. I have been in several small groups in several different churches in several different geographical areas and the story is always the same. The top selling study of the day is brought into the church and is preached on from the pulpit, praised in the congregation, and taught on in Sunday School. It's like the summer camp experience all over again. We get energized, excited and all hopped up on emotion and new friendships but the percentage of individuals who make lasting change due to their experience is disappointingly low. Oh how I loved summer camp though. It was so fun and different from my normal everyday experience. I was able to do and experience things that I would never have if I hadn't gone. There were some lasting changes that occurred but they were always due to strong scriptural teaching not due to a persons ability to be a great speaker. The same should be true about our small groups. The studies themselves are not necessarily innefective but rather what we have chosen to do with them. We (and by we I mean Christians in America) have jumped on the bandwagon of the most popular writers of the day thanks to great advertising. We need to stop and re-evaluate why we choose the studies we choose and if they fit us as individuals.
My sincere desire is to give you a tool to be able to sift through the studies that are out there, maybe even introduce you to some authors you may not have heard of otherwise and pick books and topics that are relevant to where you are in your spiritual walk or where your church or congregation my be in it's spiritual walk.
Thank you for reading,