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"Freestyling with the Holy Spirit"
by Tom Goodman
August 2, 2007

I asked Susan Steedley to write up a report of the special weekend her Common Ground group enjoyed.  Here it is--

What started out as a 2 families wanting to get away for the weekend turned into a great time of fellowship of most of our Common Ground Group: five families enjoyed 4 full days together at Lake Buchanan. We played group games altogether--100% participation with all kids & adults--very nice interaction and much laughter! All ages enjoyed the time all the same, not to mention a whole lot of great food!

All the guys (except Jonathan & Sean) went on the men's golf outing on Friday -- all ten of them and then on to the local Burnet BBQ joint. A great time was had by all.  Most likely some repeat sermon topics were discovered during that day--like anger, patience, anxiety, and joy!!  The girls had our outing to Burnet on Saturday for lunch and shopping and then poolside at the Smith's "Resort" without kids!

One of the many highlights was our Common Ground Group on Sunday morning -- 20 lawn chairs gathered together lakeside. We sang songs, read the day's scriptures and discussed our CG Guide.  It was neat for the kids to see our group in action.  Discussion was a little more sparse than usual with the kids around, but still a great opportunity to have a small group all together. We ended our session with prayer and one more round of the weekend's "Pam's now-famous Word Game," using Bible characters, then off to jump in the lake.

It was a very special time with good friends, fellowship, food and bonding.  It definitely took the group to the next level. Thanks to Tom and Herb for your support of this activity – I believe it hit all of us when we needed it: No fronts -- just friendship! The weekend was full of one of my phrases lately, "freestyling with the Holy Spirit!"

What a fantastic report!  It's a joy to hear how our Common Ground groups and Sunday School classes are building fellowship like this!  Remember that this is one of the ways we grow in Christ: Part of the H.I.L.L. we're meant to climb includes the call to "Love the Fellowship for Life."

Be sure to look for ways to get your Sunday School class or Common Ground group together in other settings, not just Sunday morning at the church building.  The Common Ground experience is especially suited for this.  Herb and I designed Common Ground to be a very portable experience, especially if you don't need to use our childcare ministry.

Think of all the ways that you can use the Common Ground discussion guides to build a small-group ministry:

  • Even if your group normally meets around your table in the gym after the first service, occasionally your group could meet at someone's house after the first service.  Have someone provide brunch, distribute the discussion guides, and have a leisurely chat.  If you try this option, be sure to plan for your kids because you'll need to take them offsite with you.  Also, make sure to let Herb know you're meeting offsite.
  • You don't have to attend the first service to form a Common Ground group.  If you prefer to attend the second service, you can form a Common Ground group that meets on a weeknight to discuss the pulpit Bible study.  You'd have to arrange childcare yourself, but a weeknight meeting at your house could be a great outreach tool.  A Common Ground group like this could even be made up of people from both services.
  • Here's a third option: you could listen to the sermon together as a group online and then discuss it—I know of at least one small group that does that.  (In China!)  For some, the half-hour listening session would be a review of the sermon they heard at the service they attended.  For others (like first-time guests to your group), listening to the audio file would be the first time to hear the pulpit Bible study.  After the listening session, use the Common Ground guide to lead a discussion.  The Common Ground guides are available online.  Just print enough for your group.

Just remember, a Common Ground group discussion is most effective as a reflection time on the sermon, so you'll need to organize your group in such a way that they can hear the week's sermon before discussing it.  Also, if you meet as a group offsite, you need to stay accountable to your church.  You do this by working with Herb on group leadership, and also by turning in a weekly attendance roll to Herb.

Our thanks to Susan and the rest of her Common Ground table!  They've demonstrated an important step to deeper fellowship: Follow their lead!


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