Who has helped you grow as a follower of Jesus? Over my journey of faith, there are key people who have had profound impact on me. They have modelled, encouraged, challenged, stretched, and rebuked. While Sunday services, conferences and events help me grow, personal relationships are the primary influence.
For 10 years I have been part of a small ‘Renewal Retreat’ group of Pastors which meet for support and accountability. We meet in a 6-month cycle for three-day retreats with a commitment to share truthfully how we are travelling, to listen carefully to one another and to God. This is an environment which requires high trust, humility, and sensitivity to the Spirit of God. These groups have been vital in sustaining me in faith and life. I have also formed deep friendships as a result. I have often felt the quality of relationships present in our Renewal Retreats is what we should cultivate through our church life together. I wonder how?
There are 3 questions we are all asking as we join a group: do I belong (inclusion), will people listen to me (influence), how deep can I go (intimacy)? My sense is many people, including Christians, feel they rarely find groups where they can go deep. This is clearly a loss relationally, but it also misses the mark spiritually. Without strong inclusion, influence and intimacy we do not open our lives enough to others so they can help us grow. Without such relationships we struggle to be sustained in faith, and we will not truly grow.
Jason (Photo by iStock Moostocker)