So last Thursday, my small group met at Borders on 75th Ave and Bell. It was our first official meeting, it was brisk out, but we opted to meet outside, huddled around two round, aluminum tables pressed together, the chairs were terribly uncomfortable also having been created out of the light pliable metal. We spent several minutes shooting the breeze and introducing ourselves. Some shared a great deal, others not so much...but everyone showed up, which is a good sign.
I've never done anything like this, nor have I ever even been a part of a small group myself, so I really don't know what I'm doing :).
Nevertheless, we will be exploring a book together as one of our main tasks. I took the liberty of recommending two books to choose from.
The Journey of Desire, Eldredge (of course) and Searching for God Knows What, which I've spent some time talking about in recent blogs.
I copied 3 quotes from each book onto a single sheet of paper and had everyone spend a few moments reading through them. Then as a group, we discussed which book we wanted to work through in the coming months.
Earlier that day, as I was searching for "good" excerpts, I found it was quite easy with Donald Miller's book, and not so much with Elderedge... and by "good" excerpts I mean short paragraphs that captured the writing style as well as some of the main ideas of each writer, but in a concise and accurate manner... Both authors are great and either book has so much to offer... but they are essentially, so very different.
Miller is afforded more freedom I think, and his off beat humour is completely welcomed within the context of his topics, which I assumed would make his book more accessible to a group of college aged guys. While, Eldredge sets out to discuss a "weightier" concept if you will, namely of loss and disappointment. Miller weaves in and out of several ideas with ease and a bit more generality... while Eldredge is much more focused on one major theme, and so consequently, finding shorter quotes that might sum up Eldredge's core idea proved to be a challenge...interestingly enough, The Journey of Desire, is really best represented by a Journey... from cover to cover, the ideas are all deeply interconnected and each principle gradually leading to the next. For some reason I keep picturing a slinky, walking down a case of stairs, influenced by gravity, but also requiring each previous step to get to the next one...
Anyway, I was convinced that the guys would go with the former, but not because it was necessarily a better book, but based on my inability to represent each book with all fairness. To my suprise though, most everybody expressed more interest in Eldredge's, The Journey of Desire. Of course being a group of guys, we came to the decision in a matter of minutes :)
Since I realized we weren't going to be working through Miller's book, I read several pages of Searching For..., to the group. Yes, I read to a group of grown men, in public. We spent some time discussing some of the significant ideas presented by Miller and I got a glimpse of where each person was in terms of their respective journey's, but just a glimpse. Human dynamics are so interesting, complicated and yet beautiful.
Much to my satisifaction, after all was said and done, we stuck around for sometime, just hanging out, which I believe will prove to be an integral part of what we're trying to do with this group. I observed a mixture of excitement, uncertainty, deep wounds and paper cuts, questions, answers, struggles, flaws, strengths, hopes and dreams and hopelessness...but from everyone, a real longing that only Christ alone can fill...