Stories are powerful. During Summer Small Groups this year and last we’ve shared stories that span the ages of our lives and bridge the spaces between us. Hearing a new story from an old friend, or a familiar story from a new acquaintance, we bond, and we feel a lot less of that “no one really knows me” and that “everyone except me knows what’s going on” feeling. For believers who find that our individual and corporate stories expand excitingly within God’s greater story, it’s been a special blessing to share personal stories and then to explore with others what God might be saying to us through them.
In 2015 more than 40 of us came together to tell—and to listen to and to reflect upon—startlingly diverse stories about what makes each of us feel whole, alive, and the person God created us to be. If we had to sum up the lessons we learned through stories we shared, it might be this: our extravagant, generous, inefficient (seems like), messy and loving God has blessed us in so many different ways, and created us to find joy in so many different places! NCF people do indeed come from wonderfully diverse backgrounds and experiences.
This summer we’ve taken a new approach, with the hope even more people will participate: We begin each session with a “story starter,” then invite briefer personal stories from everyone there who has one to share. As before, we listen carefully to each other’s stories, then reflect back what we’ve heard. So far this summer we have explored, through stories, some of what it might mean for us truly to “embrace diversity” (as our “bridgE” acronym says we try to do), how our privileges and responsibilities are woven into the fabric of our lives, and how we choose to respond when the world’s ready-made categories for us fit us poorly, and chafe us.
Sharing stories, listening respectfully, we grow stronger as a fellowship. Engaging with stories, encouraging each other, we grow more aware of the ways God leads and shapes and provides for us throughout our lives.
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The above post is by Paige W., who helps organize and facilitate Summer Small Groups. There are still several Summer Small Group sessions on the schedule this year, and people are welcome to attend just one or all of them. Check your email for a recent NCF newsletter, which includes a link to the schedule, or email Kye to have a schedule sent to you: firstname.lastname@example.org