By Dr. Mike Graves, Scholar in Residence and Minister of Spiritual Formation
All this year, National Public Radio has featured a series on the 50th anniversary of 1968, one of the most traumatic years in American history. Here’s the briefest of reminders: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were both assassinated. Student riots in Paris spread to other parts of the world as well, including the States. During the Summer Olympics, two US Olympic athletes raised gloved fists in racial protest rather than placing their hands on their hearts. Anti-Vietnam protests were commonplace occurrences. On a much lighter note, 1968 was the year Mister Rogers became a neighbor to children everywhere. Otis Redding had us sitting on “The Dock of the Bay” and Jeannie C. Riley sang about the “Harper Valley P.T.A.” And the list goes on.
That same year, and much less heralded, the Koinonia class was launched at Country Club Christian Church, nearly fifty years after the church itself was started. Many of the original members of that first Koinonia class are still active, even as different folks have come and gone through the decades. While it didn’t make any headlines then, it should be noted now. And celebrated, too.
As many of you know, I recently started a small group on Sunday mornings, affectionately known as 10:01 Connections. It’s made up of adults, mostly in their 20s-40s, some of them single, others married, and some with kids of their own. I would never be so bold as to predict that 50 years from now, this will be noted. But with the church’s centennial approaching, what happens in small groups is noteworthy, even if often taken for granted.
True, the “big show” on Sundays happens in the sanctuary or chapel during our morning worship. But the bonds formed in smaller settings, along with the conversations on a host of spiritual topics, are crucial to one’s spiritual formation. When I came to faith as a freshman in college, going to worship was as deep as I wished to go. Sitting in a circle of folding chairs and discussing the Bible or spiritual matters intimidated me beyond words. I didn’t really want to see the whites of their eyes. Sitting in pews, shoulder to shoulder was enough. But those young people persisted in inviting me, and thank God, they did. it It wasn’t 50 years ago in my case, but a little over 40. My life has never been the same.
If no one has invited you into one of our small groups of late, consider this your invitation.