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This post is the third post in a series within a series. Broadly, it is a continuation of my series of posts on the Methodist class meeting for the twenty-first century. (Click here for a link to the last general post in this series, which also contains a link to an outline of the rest of the series.) More specifically, this is the third post in a series written by Nick Weatherford, who is a member of Munger Place Church and a leader of a Kitchen Group, which is a 21st century class meeting. This series will allow you to hear directly from a lay person who is currently leading a class meeting. In the first post, Nick shared his story with you and talked about the role that being in a class meeting played in his recommitting to a life of Christian discipleship. In the second post, Nick talked about the impact that leading a Kitchen Group has had on his faith. This post discusses the impact that Nick believes that these groups are having on Munger Place. In the final post, Nick talks about the impact that he thinks reclaiming the class meeting for the 21st century would have on contemporary United Methodism. I deeply appreciate the time that Nick has taken in writing this series of posts, which will appear throughout the course of this week. He has agreed to follow the discussion and interact with any comments or questions that you may have, so I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to interact with Nick.

What impact do I think these groups are having on Munger?

The groups are certainly becoming part of Mungers DNA. I hope that we are creating a culture where you will feel like you are missing out if you are not actively in a group. Not because anyone is trying to stand up each week and “sell” you on it, but because someone you know at church tells you what they are experiencing in a group, or even better, because you recognize something different about the Kitchen Group members.

One of the things often repeated about Munger is that it feels like home. I believe group participation really fosters this sense. I have never felt more comfortable walking into a church before and I know that part of that is due to the fact that I am going to see someone from my group across the room or chat with them after the service. Having little communities within our church really makes folks feel welcome and even excited to walk through the doors on Sunday. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have heard folks mention that for that Sunday is now their favorite day of the weekend. I imagine there are several reasons for that at Munger, but I believe that part of it is that the group experience prepares you for worship. On Sunday, we celebrate, but during our meetings we do a lot of the heavy lifting, focusing on our personal ups and downs in our faith journeys with a group of fellow believers. We encounter the grace of the Holy Spirit there. We are more aware of where we stand with God, and more eager and ready to experience His loving presence on Sunday.

From a very practical standpoint, I think the groups are accomplishing a lot of work for the church. Whenever we have a service day, an outreach event or need volunteers, the majority of the folks you will see are in one of our groups. Whatever the Lord is accomplishing in our groups is translating into service amongst the members. Part of this is bound to be the comfort zone of knowing folks at these activities and getting to hang out with your Kitchen Group friends, but I think there is also more to it than that.

– Nick Weatherford