Gardeners interested in learning and sharing ideas with other gardeners, join us Sunday, April 23 for our first meeting. 9:15–10:15am at the house.
If you are a gardener, or are thinking about starting a garden, join with others once a month to share gardening tips, what you are planning to plant, what is going well, what isn’t, encourage one another, etc. Watch for more information and the first meeting date in early April. Questions? Contact Bridget Crave: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether you are looking for a Lenten practice, or you have been thinking about joining a small group, but just haven’t yet, this is a great time to get involved in a small group. During Lent, First Lutheran small groups will all be doing the same study, Sabbath as Resistance. This is a book by Walter Brueggemann that asks us to think about the way we spend our time. New groups will be forming just for Lent, and ongoing year round groups are open for new participants.
When do they meet? Sunday mornings between worship, and Sunday early evening. Wednesday morning, Wednesday evening before worship, and Wednesday evening after worship. A new group for men will be meeting Friday morning at 6:30, and a group for everyone will meet Friday mornings at 11:00 with childcare. All Sunday and Wednesday groups have childcare available.
Questions about our Lenten small groups? Click here to contact Bridget Crave, our Director of Small Group Ministry.
Our theme this year, “The Time of your Life” will be developed further during Lent, when we will read together, Sabbath as Resistance - Saying No to the Culture of Now by Walter Brueggemann. You are encouraged to join a small group, read the book, and attend Wednesday evening worship, where the sermon will help us explore this topic and what it means to us personally.
This fall there will be several opportunities for you to join a small group. The kids start school in September, and October brings the opportunity for adults at First to learn something new too. These 2 new groups, Bible 101 and Half Truths, will start in October and be finished by Thanksgiving.
“I had a pastor who distributed communion with such focus and the way he said. ‘This is the blood of Christ,’ I had no doubt it was the blood of Christ.”
“I grew up Catholic and how I thought about communion was never something I felt could even be discussed.”
These are just a few samples of stories I’ve heard told from people participating in small groups. Lenten small groups are in full swing, and there is great conversation happening; no small group telling the same story or hearing the same experience. That’s the joy of small group, hearing each other’s story, hearing about doubt, hearing about great faith and realizing other people have questions and struggles, too.
Sermon notes are available from ushers during worship; they are also available online, along with the sermon audio, at firstlu.org/sermons. Sermon notes are meant to be used…
- During worship to write down things you hear that surprise, shock, or otherwise strike a chord with you.
- At home, to think about what you heard during the sermon and what it means to you, in your life, right now.
- In small groups, to share your thoughts and to listen to others talk about how they heard the sermon and were moved by it.
Do you frequently feel like you are running around so fast being busy, that you’ve forgotten why you are even doing what you do every day? Are you searching for something more? Tired of running in circles, but not really living life with direction, purpose or passion? It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the drama of classes, family and work. Our lives are filled with distractions that take us away from living a life with Christ.
One of the many blessings of being a part of First Lutheran Church is our wonderful worship, including sermons that challenge us to think about how we live a Christian life in this secular world. To help you “take the sermon home” and let it stir in your mind and heart beyond just the worship service, we have begun to develop sermon notes.
You’re probably familiar with this scenario: you’re at the doctor’s office and she is reviewing with you a diagnosis and plan of treatment for whatever brought you there. You’re following most of what she’s saying, but from time to time there are terms that escape your. You know she’s using medical lingo, but because you trust your doctor you’re not too concerned. Still, it’s never fun feeling like you don’t fully understand what’s going on, especially when it comes to your health.
Have you ever noticed the different ways one gathers strength to endure those struggles that pop up in life? It may be the quiet of a starry night. It may the freshness of the air in the fall as you hear a breeze gently blowing through the leaves. It may be the presence one feels as they read a book, listen to music or contemplate a piece of art. It may be the rippling of the water as the children play close by. I do these things, but the most important thing that I do to find that inner strength, the energy, the peace to do the thing that I do, is to connect with other people. I have a true story to tell.
We read in the Bible that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move a mountain (Matthew 17:20). Mustard seeds are tiny, but when nurtured—just like our faith—they can grow into something hardy. Something strong. Something that will flourish in all kinds of places, at all different times. Isn’t that what we aspire to have? Likely you have observed a person and thought, wow, their faith is so strong. I hope I have faith like that one day. In my former job, I was a little bit famous for saying “hope is not a strategy.” You won’t nurture and grow your faith just by hoping for it. It takes intentional action to nurture your faith....
I just spent a wonderful Father’s Day at the home of my brother Tom and his wife. Two of their adult children were there as well as my dad, mom and my sister. While I always enjoy coming together with my family, usually I leave the gathering thinking it was nice to see everyone, but I really don’t have a good feel for how things are going in their lives. You see, I have five brothers and one sister and when the whole family gets together, there are 43 of us. That’s a lot of people to talk to, it’s kind of loud and if it’s Christmas, there are gifts to open too. It’s pretty tough to have a meaningful conversation that digs deep and helps to get to know each other better....
Do you remember back when you were in confirmation? No, really. Think back. If you are like me, you have a few vague memories. Maybe you remember the retreat when the smoke from the fireplace backed up into the cabin and you had to evacuate, or you remember being nervous trying to memorize the Apostles Creed, quite sure you would never remember it all. Then you were confirmed and that was the end of your religious education. It’s not surprising then if you’ve forgotten most of what you learned about the Bible. You are not alone.
Do you have big plans for the summer? Do they include your spiritual growth? Whether you have the summer off of work, need an occasional break from kid activities, or just want to do something new, summer is a great time to join with a group of fellow church members for fun, fellowship, caring conversations and study. In other words, summer is a great time to be part of a small group.
Why join a small group? It’s a great way to connect with members of the congregation. If you’ve been wanting to feel more a part of the congregation beyond worship, or get to know some other folks who can walk with you on your spiritual path, being part of a small group will help.
This summer, First will offer some new small groups starting in June (after Sunday School is finished), running through July. In May you will have the opportunity to sign up for groups including Family Fun, Food and Fun, Serving Others, along with the traditional spiritual growth study. Start thinking about what you might be interested in doing. If you have other ideas, I’d love to talk to you.
The story of Jesus doesn’t end with his death and resurrection. It continues in the lives of those who believe in him. Now that Lent is over and we have celebrated Easter, how will God continue to live in you?
If you were in a Lenten small group, you might be thinking, that was interesting and I’m enjoying getting to know these people. What’s next? Or, maybe you weren’t in a small group during Lent, but have been wondering what being part of a small group is all about. Maybe this is the time to dip your toe in the waters of a small group.
Connect your faith life to the ministries at First Lutheran church.
Go to www.firstlu.org/yourprofile to complete your Faith Life & Service Profile and prayerfully consider how you want to actively participate in the life and mission of First Lutheran Church.
A year or so after moving to Onalaska and joining First Lutheran Church, I was dropping off my middle school aged son for a church outing and expressed my parent-of-a-teenager stress and frustration with another parent. She said to me, “You need a Bible study.” She was right. What I needed was an opportunity to share my frustrations and hopes as a parent, and an opportunity to learn how to listen to God and see how God was working in the life of my child and in me. I started to see that when I joined a small group Bible study here at First.
As part of a small group, I have also developed deep, honest relationships with the other members of my small group. We have walked with each other through life struggles, celebrated many joyful transitions together, and learned to see and talk about how God is working in our lives.
I know that this type of connection and relationship is what many of you desire as well. You are looking for a way to connect with some other members, grow in your faith and have the support you need as you walk through life.
That’s why I’m excited to be the Director of Small Group Ministry. In this new position I will help identify and train people to lead small groups. It’s not hard once you know what to do, but it can seem daunting, so I am here to help lead the way. A frustration for current groups is finding a good study. I will identify a long list of resources for studies that meet a wide variety of needs, including pure Bible study, books on various faith topics, DVD studies for those who don’t want to read a lot, etc. In addition, I will help match people who are interested in being part of a group to a group that fits their needs. I am working 20 hours a week. Some of that time will be spent in the back office at the church, and some of it will be spent meeting with small groups, training leaders, and meeting with other churches that do small groups well to learn from them.
While I am passionate about small groups, this is a new position for me and a new step for First. I will be asking for your ideas: what has worked for you as a member of a small group, why you’ve never been in a small group, what are your fears and hopes. I pray that you will be open to sharing with me and willing to try new approaches. I also ask for your prayers as I start this new journey. After 30 years working in marketing for corporate America, this is a big change for me but a change that I am excited about. May God bless us all in 2015!