It’s Wednesday evening and, at church, a mixed group gathers around a game of dominoes. In the gym, a group of teenagers are rock climbing with teachers. In homes all over campus, members of our community mingle to learn Chinese, new cooking skills, juggling, painting, outdoor survival skills, Bible studies, and more. In fact, all over our neighboring communities, and at various times during the week, Campion church members and new friends are gathering together over a shared interest and creating a deeper sense of community. Known as Grow Groups, these gatherings have helped members feel more connected with each other in their journey of faith, as well as reach out to their neighbors.
During the spring semester, the Campion Church and Academy developed nearly 50 different Grow Groups, spearheaded by Pastor of Discipleship, Michael Morss. “In churches, there are many groups that focus on either study, affinity, or outreach,” he explains. “Our belief is that each of these are essential for growth; therefore, every group leader is committed to creating opportunities to connect with Christ, other members, and our community.”
Connecting to Christ in Fellowship
Strengthening faith and developing the bonds of fellowship among our community of believers are the primary goals of Grow Groups. Bela Cinco joined an art group which fostered artistic talents with a spiritual focus. “It’s such an impactful thing to be able to get into a small group with people of the same interests and do something you enjoy while growing closer to God at the same time,” she reflected. “The first night we made prayer jars. We decorated mason jars to put next to our beds, so at the end of the day we could write down a blessing we received, or a prayer request we had on a piece of paper and put it in the jar.”
Patricia Torres, a teacher at Campion, led out a group called “Something Better,” and taught students about natural remedies for improved health. Kevin Perez, a student who join the group explained, “Learning about the natural remedies that God created to be special and unique helped to show me that there truly is someone out there that created all these things for us. I got to know to people I don’t normally talk to on a regular basis, and we had a good time laughing together and enjoying each other’s company.”
Connecting to our communities
The positive impact of the Grow Groups has reached beyond church members and has drawn interest from the community. “A vision born to connect our growing church through smaller circles has become evangelistic in nature,” commented Morss. “It's exciting to see 150 church members participate and grow in Christ and the community, but it's even more exciting to see more than 20 non-Adventists connect to Christ through the new Grow Groups.”
A focus on a shared interest makes it less intimidating to invite non-church members to participate in a group. The group leader of “Crochet for Christ,” Carey Jordan, shared that their group was able to complete 50 hats and several small preemie blankets for infants who don't survive after they are born. "When we are not meeting as a group, several members have taken their new-found craft to work which has resulted in two non-Adventists joining our group," Jordan reported.
Focusing on developing groups to meet for a term, rather than indefinitely, also made the idea more manageable and appealing to potential group leaders. Group leaders were recruited and trained in November, and in January, church members were able to read about the focus of each group and were inspired to sign up. The groups then met officially from February through the end of April, ending with a final celebration at the church. Following the positive reactions and success of the spring groups, the Campion Campus is looking forward to reviving the groups in the fall with new options including: effective prayer, photography, scuba diving certification, and many more.
“Growth is essential to life,” reflected Morss. “At Campion, we are highly committed to providing opportunities for spiritual and social growth, and we believe one of the best ways to foster that growth is through Grow Groups.”
Jill Harlow, Communication Director