The “ABCDE” of Small Groups in the Cathedral (Part 1)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples,
if you havelove for one another. John 13:34,35
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19
Post-CoH, we are giving sharper attention to personal discipleship. Understanding our context may help each of you to consider how you may be involved.
The "small group” approach is important to us. For ease of reference, we call it ABCDE.
Firstly, we have Alpha small groups, where seekers are being helped to discover the Christian Faith. Alpha is not just about the video talks, inspiring as they are. Actually the strength of the Alpha Course - and you will be surprised to hear this - is not found in the Course itself. I smile when I read online both the extreme praises as well as criticisms of the course which seem to assume that the Course itself is key to everything. Actually, every Course is about the small groups. Alpha is the local church community on display and in action. It is about the church community up close and in proximity with non-believers. A quick conversation about the Gospel at a bus-stop with a stranger is about an encounter with Christ. A ten week journey of small group relationships is also about encountering Christ, but as experienced through the Christian community. And so the key focus is not on how attractive the Course is, or how well it should be run, but whether we are attracting people to Christ.
It is back to the question of loving and welcoming one another. If the words of Jesus here and in the Great Commission are to be understood together, gospel proclamation is just a small part. It is in the "making of disciples” through the life of the community that people are being drawn to Christ. The phrase “too close for comfort” best describes what each small group in Alpha seeks to provide. If you are willing to be real in allowing God's grace and love to be seen through your life, you can be a real blessing. Forget about anxiously trying to convert people. Be real and love them into the Kingdom.
stands for Baptism/Confirmation. The Baptism and Confirmation Course is actually one Course in two parts. Again, this course places emphasis on small groups. While like Alpha, there is teaching at the start, it is through the small groups that new believers are being helped to grow in their faith. The Confirmation Course allows us to talk about matters peculiar to an Anglican Church and our vision and values as a Cathedral. Here, we also seek to help believers transferring from other church traditions. We are not seeking to “Anglicanise” participants. But we want them to be introduced to our traditions so that they can be enriched and equipped to worship comfortably with us. What is the Nicene Creed? What is the Trinity? Why do we do the things we do? Why do we worship the way we do? Why should we be pledging or giving free-will offerings? How are these monies used? All these are talked about at our Confirmation Course.
We also seek to supplement the Baptism Course with “Barnabas” groups, a reference to the more generic term, "Follow-Up groups.” Barnabas groups lean more on the personal things that a new Christian needs to be aware of such as how can one be assured about their faith, read the Bible or do the daily devotion. As we only run two Baptism Courses per year, the ad hoc nature and flexibility of this small group ensure that we are always giving priority to the needs of new believers. The initiative comes from the ground, so to speak. If you are a mature and responsible believer, you can certainly do your part to help. Oftentimes, the new believer may be a friend and you are the best person to spend some time with him or her. The New Life Kit, a local Anglican resource is very useful in this regard. We also encourage the use of other materials. These are on sale at the Welcome Centre.
I will leave CDE to next week’s bulletin.