We’re set to start up another round of Deepen groups at Highlands Church. These small groups of intentional community have been one of the best things we’ve done in our short 51/2 year history. But for some people, the Deepen groups have been one of their more disappointing experiences at church. It all depends.
Deepen groups usually consist of between 8-12 people, though some are larger and smaller than that. People gather once a week for 8 weeks to share some food, experiences and time together around something that helps give the group some focus. There’s a variety of things that pull different groups together but the common element, whether it’s dance, conversation, a book study, sharing meals and so on is that we all want to know and be known. We would all like to have people who remember our name when they see us. We’d like to get to know some people well enough that they might just want to hang out some time with us as friends, not as part of any program but just because we are friends.
The staff doesn’t think of Deepen primarily as a program. There are the organizational parts that we need to get things started so people can connect, but once that happens, it all depends on what kinds of relationships we want to have with the others in our group. And we all have a say in that!
I’ve been a part of some Deepen groups where the sheer chemistry was so magical that it seemed effortless and everyone showed up because they wouldn’t ever want to miss it if they could help it. I’ve been a part of some Deepen groups that didn’t run on magic and chemistry but found that if everyone tried hard to honor the 8 week commitment and came prepared to both give and receive, some really wonderful things happened.
Your voice matters in anything in which you choose to participate. It’s important to share what you’d hope to give and receive to the group. Most of the time we’re so mousy about saying things that are important to us, but I think that when we do, others are relieved that we brought it up. It’s not forcing intimacy, but it at least helps create the space for it to be possible.
Lots of our Deepen groups have been going for years now because the people in it found great friends and connections. Some end after 8 weeks and everybody knows the others better than when they started and that’s a good thing.
But occasionally, some never really get off the ground. Sometimes people just don’t show up for one reason or another but don’t communicate their decision to anyone; sometimes the communication between the facilitator and the people who signed up for their group is weak and it just fizzles. Arrgghh! That feels really bad when that happens.
If we want to be part of a good Deepen group, it depends. It depends on each of showing up, being present to the others, listening well and honoring our own voice and perspective. Sometimes we just don’t have a good fit. That’s okay, too, but it’s important that we talk with the facilitator and let our fearless leaders, Ann and Susan know because there might be a group that is a better fit for us!
See you there!