Lately, I have been struck by the changing seasons I feel in the air and wind all around me. The days around here have felt like summer, while the nights and mornings have the cool crispness of the coming fall. This glorious temperature and visual metamorphosis from summer to fall in the mountains is probably my favorite time of the year. It gives me a chance to savor the adventures of the warm summer months while looking forward to the fresh fall journey ahead and delight in the feel of both seasons within each day. It is joyfully inspired by this wind of changing seasons that I write you about the past, present and future seasons of small group life at Aspen Ridge Church.
The past ministry year for small groups has been a season of growth and adventure. Picture a great day in your favorite recreational activity. It may be a hole in one (golf or frisbee golf), that beautiful trout at the end of your line, summitting a peak for a view no money can buy or a book you just can’t put down. We have seen that excitement as small groups grew from 18, to 27 to 34 over the last 20 months, with a substantial number of those new groups forming over the last ministry year. Praise God! Much of our small group growth has been in the area of our interest-based groups, also known as fun groups. Fun groups have provided adventure for our members along with mission-vital opportunities to invite neighbors and friends to join along. I was personally blessed in a major way as I joined in on some of those fun group adventures, including snowshoeing, hiking, shooting and mountain biking over the last year. Our frisbee golf group secured some 250 equipment donations to use in the years to come. Our fishing group took 42 people out to a private lake where some caught their first fish ever and others experienced the love of our church family for the first time ever. The God of re-creation revealed himself through recreation over the last ministry season through Aspen Ridge fun groups.
Over the last year, our small groups completed more than 16 individual service projects and joined forces for our churchwide service project, “Get Out,” on August 24, 2019. Being the hands and feet of Christ in serving our community is a valued tradition that represents our best as followers of Christ. In the last ministry year, we have also seen substantial growth in new people to Aspen Ridge wanting to get plugged-in to a healthy small group. One opportunity we have in this area is raising up Christ-centered 20, 30 and 40-somethings to shepherd and lead these folks who are hungry for Gospel community.
In our present ministry season, we are blessed with a healthy mix of 34 sermon-based, topic based and interest based (fun) small groups. I’m delighted to announce that we have launched a new sermon-based small group this fall, co-led by the Zwinglers and Heucherts. These couples, who hail from the baby boomer and millennial generations, respectively, are spirit-led people who God called out of my leadership small group to lead a group of their own! They are a group who has a fire for God’s word and making disciples who make disciples. Please pray with me for them and that their group can be a mighty wind for the kingdom of God in our community. Our current season is also one of “iron sharpening iron” within small group structure, as I team to develop small group leader award luncheons with practical training and prayerfully raise up small group coaches as needed support structure over the course of the next year.
It is the changing and mighty wind I feel beginning to blow that I am most excited about for the future of Aspen Ridge small groups. This is a season at Aspen Ridge of honoring our past and preparing for our preferred future. Like our transformation from summer to fall here in the mountains, it is a wind that blows both hot and newly crisp. It is a wind that blows strong from Bob Wilking as he prays earnestly for his frisbee golf group and makes community connections in the sport that lead to kingdom goals. It is a warm and enthusiastic breeze from Bob Browers, inviting neighbors to go fishing as he follows Jesus in making fishers of men. It is a fresh and crisp wind from the Zwinglers and Heucherts as they open their sails to launch out to sea with their new sermon-based group this fall. It is a wind that blows through each small group in this body and one that, when properly harnessed, can create energy to produce new groups with a passion for evangelism, discipleship and multiplication. In the book of Acts, the holy spirit comes with power that sounded like “…a mighty rushing wind” (Acts 2:2). The Bible’s version of wind energy! I believe this holy spirit wind is transforming and giving new life to many of our small groups at Aspen Ridge Church. My hope is that this wind gives us mighty power to make disciples who make disciples. My prayer is that this wind blows strong through us, bringing with it revival and renewal to our entire community.
Peace, Grace and Mercy to you all,
Director of Small Groups