At this year's Convergence Conference (www.EasumBandy.com), I gained some great insights into small group spiritual formation from Thom Bandy's main session—"Global Positioning for the Soul." The talk gave me some perspective as I think about the struggles facing individuals in my small group.
As I look at my current small group, there are a variety of human problems. Terminal illness, divorce, parenting issues, financial stress, and the list could go on and on. When thinking about the people who face these life struggles, one of our biggest jobs as small group leaders is not so much to be counselors and chaplains, but to be navigators. Or, as Thom Bandy puts it, "mid-wives" who are constantly coaching the painful birth of something new that God is doing in our group members' lives. Our response is not necessarily, "Can I help you to find a solution to this pain?" rather, "Can I help this new thing to be born and to grow in you?"
The key to helping group members navigate through life involves helping them to process the love and truth of an infinite God, while dealing with any number of finite human problems—disease, broken relationships, broken hearts, broken dreams, etc.. As Thom Bandy said in his main session talk:
"The intersection of the finite and the infinite is the source of all chaos. Life is chaos…a constantly bubbling, boiling cauldron of unpredictable heat, depth, and magnitude, in which continuities emerge and dissipate, reliable social structures raise and fall, perspectives attract a following and then dissolve again."
The situation we face in small groups, many times, is that we tend to focus on the eternal (infinite) or the finite, but not both simultaneously. We will talk about eternal ...