We are in kind of the world’s best church small group. Most groups from our church will meet together once a week and talk about the sermon and will typically participate in a service project once a quarter, some do more, but the average is one per quarter. At a church the size of our church that means a lot of people are getting meal, having home projects done, schools are getting fixed up, homeless folks are getting help to get back on track – it’s pretty awesome. We always thought there could probably be a bit more though. Summer Book Club kinda helped encourage us to do more.
We had participated in several over the years where well meaning folks could never seem to find a date to get on the calendar and volunteer day never really happened. I had the mildly popular idea at one point to ask those in the group to each give $5 (or more if they felt led) and I would take it to Target with coupons and buy as many baby basics (diapers and wipes) as I could with the money given and my mad couponing skills and take them to a local crisis pregnancy center. While it met a decent need in the community a couple times a year I didn’t really require much of us as a group. $5 was easy, I was going to Target anyway. But I mean, $5 you guys? Come on……
Well we bounced around to a couple small groups, we talked about hosting one but it didn’t end up working out, we tried to join one that we knew at least did their once a quarter project but it was full. We decided maybe we would just take a break this quarter and come back strong in the Fall. Then my friend mentions they just opened up their home to a small group and invited us to join. “It’s a little different though, we do one week on the sermon notes and then next week we go and serve in the community. You can bring kids too, I think it will be fun.” We were like “YES!” Seriously – there should be more small groups like this!
* Water Duty at the potluck*
So small group would meet every other week in a comfy home with decaf coffee and comfy couches where we talked about the sermon and what we needed prayer for in our lives, and the other week we would go out into the community. We would feed the homeless at a group potluck, we would decorate cookies and play games with adults with Down’s Syndrome that lived in a group home, we introduced ourselves 15 times to the same guy at an Alzheimer’s care facility as we built a puzzle with him. The kids came with us most weeks we were serving and that was really exciting too. Some of our best conversations happened to and from service projects. I felt like it was a deeper conversation than the standard “What did you learn in church today guys? Cool! Now let’s go to Rubios!” that happens weekly. It wasn’t that we didn’t serve before, but it was nice to have it scheduled as often as it was, I feel like it conditioned a different mindset in all of us; or perhaps just fostered what was already there to be stronger. I don’t know, but I like this small group.
All of this was spurred on by a little book called Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith (The Navigators Reference Library)by Jen Hatmaker. I’ve read Jen Hatmaker‘s blog for quite some time and I follow her on facebook. She has a way of writing that is articulate, unpretentious, and straight to the point; and there really isn’t much of that out there in my experience. She is also hilarious. She also is a mama of five, two of which are adopted internationally *platonic swoon*. When my friends Karen and Robin were both reading Interrupted I was like “Read a book that isn’t for work” is on my 2014 bucket list anyway and I love Jen Hatmaker! I’m in.
The theme – Jesus wants you to feed people and stop worrying so much about getting ahead. In a nutshell. In a world where so many churches are really working at making middle and upper class America feel more accommodated this book is challenging and refreshing. I read it on a press trip. I have always felt out of sorts on press trips. “Free” working vacations are what dreams are made of, it’s what so many bloggers hope for, but I honestly have always felt conflicted during press trips. I look around and think “This is A LOT of resources just to entertain and impress me.” Don’t get me wrong travel bureau’s – still invite me; if anything be sure to invite me and take it down a notch, put that ‘extras’ budget into something else – I’m easier to impress than most. So anyway, I would rush away from a 5 course fancy meal with live entertainment and skip the after dinner drinks to come back to my room and read Interrupted. It kinda articulated that press trip conflicted-ness I have always felt. It was encouraging and validating, and I wanted nothing more badly than to be at home. I missed small group that week for work; it was ‘feed the homeless potluck’ week. I never would have time to read the book had I not been in a big fancy hotel room all by myself, but still.
Small groups always break for the Summer. Boo on that. Not really, because a lot of people travel and all, but we were just getting into this awesomeness and now it was gonna quit. Nope, our group doesn’t meet in homes every other week but they still participate in a service project a couple times a month. Super Cool. In addition to that the ladies had picked out another Jen Hatmaker book called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. On a different night we have book club. Coffee, desserts, a fire pit, a bunch of ladies and a book that is kinda more extreme (in all the right ways) than Interrupted.
On my dessert night I took advantage of the fire pit and brought S’mores fixins – don’t be jealous.
It’s kinda the best book club ever. Because we are reading 7 you can’t be pretentious. You can’t be too fancy. If the dessert you bring on your night isn’t up to par nobody can give you a hard time about it; you are probably just being frugal so you can help more people (not that anyone turns their nose up at a s’more). Everyone comes in their yoga pants and puts their hair up in a ponytail. It’s my favorite.
If you are a Christian and you don’t follow Jen Hatmaker, you are in for a treat friends – follow her on facebook. If you are looking for an awesome book that will challenge you and make you laugh out loud at the same time, I suggest reading Interrupted. I suggest following it up with 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. I dare say, even if Jesus is not your thing you might like these books, it may restore your faith <pun intended> in Christian folks a little bit.
Here’s a little book trailer……..
*Note* I am using my Amazon affiliate link here. These are cheap books, I make about a quarter if you buy them through me. Since I am all about being frugal I HIGHLY suggest you see if you can get these books at the library for free. You can also borrow from a friend like I did with the first book. I bought the second as a digital download; it was a little cheaper and it saved a tree. Please know while I did include my affiliate link; I know I am not going to sell enough to make it ‘worth it’ to talk you into buying a book. I read a lot of books that might be an easier sell to a blanket audience that I just don’t mention. Please know if you do buy it, that tiny little commission that never costs you any more helps support this site’s maintenance, but it also more often than not gets donated to a friend that is adopting (seriously, so many of our friends are adopting right now – yay!!). In any event, I can assure you even if I made gobs of money off of affiliate links; I have read Interrupted AND 7….. I promise money is never spent frivolously!
So I don’t want to brag you guys, but I read TWO books that were not required for work purposes – one in Spring and one in Summer. Cover to cover guys. If you aren’t applauding right now you don’t know me very well. I just don’t finish books.
If you aren’t into Christian books, seriously no worries, I know it is a big group. I just really liked these books and wanted to share with those who might be interested. I have come to peace with the fact that I can’t please every single person with every single post, I am crossing my fingers that you find my next post appealing. 😉
Depending on the response, maybe I will share a ‘What I am reading’ list a couple times a year. I’ve been able to read a bit more this Summer than I could in the past and next year our littlest will be in Preschool, I might regain “Free Time” that could be spent reading. If I come across something worthy and I feel you guys care, maybe I will share! So give me your favorite books! Leave it in the comment section!
Oh, also Jen Hatmaker and her family are on HGTV you guys! Starting August 7th you can watch them remodel their new farmhouse on My Big Family Renovation! For the longest time we did not have cable, because I mean…. 7. But then we moved and there was some kind of deal where it was free with this bundle thing for a year, I don’t know – gimmicks and all (it will be gone by November if the price goes back to normal), but anyway – we have HGTV right now and I am so excited to watch this family in action!