The Long and Short of Our Short Groups

By Ashley Daniels

I have learned over the years that joining, committing to, and participating in a church short group has a long-lasting effect on your life. And that’s a good thing.

But don’t take my word for it. Research has proven that the benefits of short groups, or short-term small groups, fosters community within a church congregation and builds relationships between folks who may not have otherwise met or socialized before.

“I started short groups because I wanted people – especially men – to feel productive studying the Bible, without it having to be a burden or stressful,” says JP Miller, pastor of Solid Rock at Market Common (SR@MC). “I also wanted one-hour meetings, so people know they can be home in time for their kids, dinner, or whatever.”

Kathy Schilling, a member of SR@MC since March 2021, has been part of five short groups here.

“I enjoy getting to know other members of the church,” she says. “I’ve been in some short groups where I and others felt very safe sharing personal information without judgment. … I also enjoyed learning from others, their perspective, and their opinions.  Typically, the groups will have individuals well-versed in the Bible, some early adopters, and everything in between. However, it does not matter. We are all children of God and want to be a part of something.” 

SR@MC offers at least 15 short groups three times throughout the year, depending on the amount of facilitators available to help, with some studies based on books and others on books of the Bible.

“We have certain authors we approve for short groups if they are books,” says Tricia Ross, administrative pastor at SR@MC. “We also get recommendations for group topics and I research some of the recommendations to be sure theyalign with our beliefs.”

I recently surveyed members of my short group studying the Book of Philippians, facilitated by Mark and Jackie Cassaday, asking them why they like the short group concept and here is their feedback:

“I just love all of the different perspectives on the readings that come up in the group,” says Bethany Cassaday.

“I think of it as – even the way our chairs are circled – as a circle of redemption,” says Mike Lyons. “It’s like a dinner table, intimate.”

“I like that you take away that no one is reading things wrong … the Bible reads you, not the other way around,” says Mark Cassaday. “I love to hear how people hear the Bible, with facilitators facilitating the Holy Spirit. I’ve heard some of the most deep-level responses in short groups.”

“I relate my thoughts on things to my personal life and my past,” says Merrily Glaviano. “It’s nice to know when that connects with others, so you know you’re not the only one who experienced that. You feel safe here.”

“I’m newer in my walk with Christ, but sometimes I’ll say something in a men’s group and guys who are 10 to 30 years older than me will share the same thoughts,” says Kenneth Koch.

“I love that you have all ages, genders,” says Jackie Cassaday. “In short group, you need to realize how it impacts everyone differently. It’s a really great way to get to know people.”

Facilitators of short groups, like Mark and Jackie, do just that: facilitate the flow of conversation. They don’t teach or lecture other members of the group like students.

“With our short groups, I wanted to emphasize the leaders as facilitators, versus teachers, meaning that ANYONE can do it regardless of their knowledge of the Bible,” says Pastor JP Miller, “I also encourage around-the-room discussion to allow people to know they will get a turn to talk, so they can listen to others well and be ready to share something that they liked or learned.”

Schilling, who has facilitated three short groups, agrees with the concept.

“Personally, as a facilitator, I would do my very best to include everyone, to create an inviting atmosphere, a safe place to share, and bring fun into the conversations,” she says. “Being in service to others is the enjoyment I receive as a facilitator. I felt “responsible” for the group and my goal was to leave them feeling, ‘This was great and I want to participate in the next short group!’

She continues, “If you’re thinking of signing up for short group, just do it! If you are seeking friendships or relationships with others, this is a great place to start. So many of us have relocated to the area and may not have friends or family around us. Nothing but good comes out of them.”

 

To sign up for the next season of short groups at SR@MC, keep an eye out for announcements in the church’s monthly newsletter and/or during each service

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Solid Rock Ministries

Solid Rock Ministries is a Myrtle Beach church that offers two Sunday services at 9:30am and 11:00am. Pastor John-Paul Miller is the pastor who delivers the sermons every Sunday. Solid Rock Ministries offers over 14 groups which members can be a part of which include Solid Rockers, A-Men’s Breakfast, Connect Groups, Ladies Breakfast Club, The Forge, Real Moms, Sending Out Sonshine, Senior Saints Bible Study, Short Group Bible Study, Solid Rock Kids, Tiny Groups and Young Adults. Solid Rock Ministries also offers sports such as wiffleball, volleyball, flag football, basketball, soccer and kickball for adults to enjoy. Solid Rock Ministries offers their beautiful chapel for weddings ceremonies.

Copyright © 2024 Solid Rock Ministries

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