Monday, September 10, 2012

Group



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I’ve been involved in small group bible studies with women for lots of years.  I started as an 8th grader who just found out she could be in relationship with God.  I would unzip my white, faux-leather RSV and read it with the woman who introduced me to Jesus Christ.   

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I asked a lot of questions in that first 2-woman group.

When I was in high school, I got involved in Young Life and in a group called “Campaigners” (YL used to be called ‘The Young Life Campaign’ thus the odd name). There were guys and girls Campaigner groups that met once a week early in the morning before school. I couldn't wait for Tuesday mornings. I took my green Living Bible which I underlined profusely with colored Flair markers. 

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From that group I remember studying Jonah, praying out loud for the first time, eating donuts and being amazed listening to other girls my age who thought about and struggled with the same things I did!

For high school graduation my mom gave me a new, bonded leather NASB with my name on the front.  I took this off to college and switched from colored markers to ballpoint pen.  I also wrote in my bible.  A lot.

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I was learning so much.  We had ‘Bring A Friend’ bible studies in our dorm.  When I worked in Young Life club, I led Campaigner groups early in the morning before the girls went to school.  I met with friends on campus to look at what God’s word said about all kinds of things – the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ and forgiveness.  We laughed together, cried together, prayed together.  I still have very close friendships with these sisters from that time almost 40 years ago. 

After college I had a a new Campaigner group, a small group of women in leadership training and later a group of high school girls in the youth group Jeff helped to pastor.  I took my NASB (which was not small) with me to church and to all those small groups and it grew quite tattered. 



I was full of false humility over that thick, marked-up, beat-up book, as if being seen with it somehow proved how spiritual I was.  Instead of my name in gold letters, I could have engraved on the cover:

“Rebecca:  Pharisee”

When I got married, I switched from NASB to NIV so Jeff and I could be reading out of the same version.  It was my first opportunity to 'submit' in our marriage and I didn't go down without a fight.  But he won.  You’ll be glad to know I quit carrying around a big bible.

(It’s so embarrassing to think about myself sometimes.)  

Over the years that we pastored on three different church staffs, I had the privilege of being in and leading many women’s bible study groups.  One of my favorites was the last group of 20-something young women who I met with for four years – we called our group "Girlfriends".  We always shared a meal (usually with a theme – Mexican, salad bar, fondue), studied the word, talked and prayed together.  How I love those girls!

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They have all ‘grown up’, married and have kids of their own and I miss them a bunch. (Hi Girlfriends!!)

Since moving back to the Northwest, I got right back into bible study and have had a group of women to study the word with each season of the year.  I’ve done most of Beth Moore’s studies with these groups – this summer we met at my house to do her ‘Mercy Triumphs’ series on the book of James.

It was sometime last year when God began to put that 20-something age group on my heart again.  I asked a dear friend Patti if she’d like to pray with me about starting a new Life Group for women at this stage of life and help me co-lead it.  We really didn’t even know too many girls that age (other than our own daughters who are all at college or on their own) and we knew that God would have to put the group together because we sure couldn’t! 

And He certainly did.

Out of thin air last January, He brought five girls who didn’t know each other.  Two had to go out and buy bibles because they didn’t own one.  One brought a tiny pink Precious Moments bible she got for catechism. 

Two of the girls asked Christ to be Lord of their lives this summer.  Isn't that amazing??!!

They ask lots of questions.  They share honestly.  They admit their failures. They don't mind spending time with two women who could easily be their mothers.  They don’t want to take breaks from our times together.  They even clue us in on everything technological… 
  • one of their bibles has those QR codes: SweeterThanSweets-Etsy-QR so you can watch videos about the verses on your smartphone
  • they’ve shown us apps they’ve found to help you memorize verses  

Patti and I knew right away that this was going to be a God-led group and we’re holding onto Him for dear life as He directs it.  It’s been amazing.

Do you sometimes avoid being a part of groups with other women?  Small groups of women can be challenging.  I've had experiences in small groups of women that, when I think back on them, make me shudder.  Working with women usually means dealing with comparison, insecurity, confrontation, hurt feelings, competition, talkers and silent-types.  But I’ve found that meeting together for bible study is worth the effort because women are also sensitive, encouraging and vulnerable with trusted friends. 

I need other women in my life because they help me see God’s grace.  They inspire me to believe God more in my own circumstances.  They almost always make my own insecurities obvious and rub off some of my own rough edges.  They remind me of how much I need God’s help - and I like that a lot.  
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