Small Groups Bring People Together
A recent small group Bible study initiative continues to bring the El Paso Central and El Paso Northeast Seventh-day Adventist Churches congregations together in prayer and discipleship. At the start of the year, the churches launched eight small groups and two church-based groups that read Steps to Christ in a 13-week time frame. The small groups have continued to meet and have even led a 40-Day Prayer Partner Challenge.
Art Camacho, small group leader for the El Paso Central church, shared, “Being a small group leader is a responsibility and a privilege. The people coming to small group meetings are looking for your guidance. As a non-clerical person, we are not used to this type of responsibility. It’s an honor and a little bit daunting. At the same time, you will find it very rewarding to know that, as you are leading, people will bring other ideas to the topic that you hadn’t even considered.”
Once a week, the small groups met to study the Bible. They also strengthened each other in friendship and prayer. The 40-Day Prayer Partner Challenge participants supported each other with a daily phone call, prayed for one another and were accountable to one another while fasting from social media and other distractions.
Although participants did not always see the daily changes that took place in each other, they developed friendships that encouraged personal growth.
“The ultimate goal of this initiative was to bring people together that would normally not forge such a prayer-oriented friendship,” said Ray House, pastor of El Paso Central and the Northeast churches. “With yet another emphasis on discipleship, we hope to help our members become more relationally oriented and outward focused.”
According to House, the meetings adopted the South Pacific Division model for small groups, which uses the acronym GIFT to encourage discussion.
“[GIFT represents] the following questions,” said House. “G: What did I discover about God from this passage? I: What did I discover about myself or other people from this passage? F: What will I follow or believe as a result of this passage? T: What will I tell or share with someone else from this passage?”
As these small groups continue to study, the goal is for members, with the support of like-minded friends, to forge a more personal relationship with God that will manifest in daily life. The 40-Day Prayer Partner Challenge is complete, but Camacho plans to continue leading his small group and encourages others throughout the Southwestern Union to participate in small groups.
“You will love it,” said Camacho. “In a small group, compared to a larger worship setting, people are much more comfortable speaking their mind and offering their own ideas on a topic. It’s a very welcoming and non-judgemental space. Small group members will feel like this is another part of their family.”
By Makala James. James is a writer based in North Texas. The El Paso Central and El Paso Northeast Seventh-day Adventist Churches are a part of the Texico Conference.