By Kent Ladendorf
Some might call our group “seasoned”. Others may say “vintage”. We like to think of ourselves as “retro”. We’ve been around awhile. We’ve been around life, raising kids, Bethel Church, and each other in small group for quite some time. Our friendships have grown strong during our weekly small group meetings. There is a lot of love between us because we share our lives, our celebrations, and our heartaches. Although we have had a few new members to our group over the years, the core group goes way back and those who have joined us most recently have quickly felt as though they belong.
When approached about being part of the Rooted pilot [last spring], we all agreed we could really help the church out by offering our services as a group that would give honest, valuable critique and insight into what Rooted could mean for Bethel. As a group of mature Christians, we could see right away how useful our assistance would be. The change of pace was appealing, too. We decided as a group to enter into the experience with open hearts and minds.
Then, the first-ever Rooted pilot session at Bethel Church began. It did not take long to see that something different was happening within our small group. At first, it seemed like little things attributable to participating in something new and truly wanting to help our church. Attendance was more consistent. Each member came prepared by reviewing the daily study material. Not only reviewing it, but also engaging in the studies, completing them with honesty and vulnerability in their personal writings.
The truths presented in the material were not new to any of us. The manner in which the Rooted material explained the tenants of our faith was often new. This prompted engaging discussions that included everyone in the room. The more we talked together, the better we came to know one another. The vulnerable thoughts written in the weekly devotional books became voiced. By the end of the 10-week session, many in our group said they are closer to each other now than before we started. Considering how much time our group of folks have spent together, this seems transformational.
Time will tell, but we heard our people express to each other that they want to grow in their boldness to share the gospel, to be more aware of the needs of others around them, to aid in filling those needs. They want to serve people inside and outside of the church, not grow weary in doing good, fight the good fight, and to finish strong.
Some of the key factors in the positive experience our group had were the willingness to commit to the time together and to be open to allowing the Lord to show up and show us what He wanted to teach us. Undoubtedly, each one of group members, if asked, would highly encourage anyone who calls Bethel their home church, contemporary or retro, to take part in a Rooted session.