It's hard to believe that the new school year is upon us. And I certainly can't believe that my son is starting Kindergarten next week. Newness and the change that newness brings is refreshing and also at times a little nerve wracking. My son got a book in the mail about a month ago about a boy going to his first day of Kindergarten, and the unfamiliarity and the newness has the little boy excited and nervous all at the same time. The boy arrives to school and is afraid to go in, but with some prompting of the teacher and the mom, the boy eases into the classroom to check it out. Although new and unfamiliar, there are some things that are familiar to him. He sees letters, and he sees numbers, and then he sees other children doing activities that he has done before, just in a different environment. With a little time, he becomes comfortable and even likes his new environment and wants to stay at school.
This story had me thinking about our church and the changes that have happened and are happening as we have journeyed together these almost two years together as pastor and congregation. Change brings newness and certain levels of unfamiliarity, but my hope is that change is also exciting and life transforming. Like any organization, certain changes have to happen in order for growth to take place. Growth itself means that change is happening. If we are growing, we are changing, and the change that we are all hopefully experiencing is the transformation that Christ wants to accomplish in all of us as we become more and more like Him.
Several months ago, I shared with you our mission statement that Old Hickory Church of the Nazarene exists to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. My hope is that we as a church will do all that we can to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus. So we always need to be asking, "How can we help people grow?"
There are many ways for people to grow in their relationship with Christ, but being connected to other believers is crucial for growth to take place. The Church has always created environments where people can share life together, pray together, read scripture together, and serve together. These environments have been called different names throughout the centuries, but they have always been places where groups of believers are meeting regularly to grow in their relationship with Jesus. They have been places where people have been able to experience accountability, belonging, and care.
Our hope is that small groups will be these environments for people to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ. So, it is with excitement that I am announcing our GroupLink event coming up on Sunday night, September 13 at 5:00 pm. GroupLink is your opportunity to get connected into a small group that like Sunday school, is intended to help you grow in your relationship with Jesus. However, it will be different from Sunday school in its format and location(s). It will also give people more time to be together to grow and build community. Small groups will happen at different times and on different days throughout the week so that those inside the church and outside the church will be able to participate during a time that is more conducive for their personal schedules.
What this means for our weekly scheduling is that we are transitioning from our current weekly Wednesday night discipleship programming to discipleship happening on multiple days and in multiple locations. Thus, while there will not be a set Wednesday night program as has been done in the past, there will be more opportunities available for adults to choose from. Teens will continue to meet weekly, but they will be meeting on Sunday evenings rather than Wednesday evenings. Our teens will also have opportunities to be involved in their own small groups. As we continue to move into the future, we will be exploring new ways to help people grow. And as we grow as a church and grow in resources, we will explore the opportunities for increasing programming for all ages.
Small groups are environments that can be a little unfamiliar to us if we haven't experienced them yet. However, many of our own people have already experienced incredible growth and life change by being a part of a small group, and we want everyone to have the opportunity to be a part of a small group.
I am excited about the days ahead as we lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ!