Reason #199 Why We Love Small Groups

A few of our 2017 grads. Photo credit to one of our moms for snapping and sharing the pic.

Earlier in May we honored the class of 2017. It’s an annual event we do in our services where we bring our high school seniors on stage and recognize them for graduating. While it’s a regular thing we do (along with churches all across the country), each year is as unique as the members of each graduating class.

For the past few years we have asked our grads to fill out a brief questionnaire so we can make the recognition a bit more personal. Not all of our congregation knows every graduate by name so it’s an opportunity to highlight what our grads have achieved and what they have planned.

The last question for them to respond to was this: What is Your Best School Memory?

A couple of their answers show just why we love small groups.

I anticipated that our grads might point to homecoming or prom or an athletic or academic accomplishment. Some did. In fact, one of our grads was Homecoming Queen this year. Two of our grads finished #3 and #4 in their graduating class. Others enjoyed some athletic success.

But what two of our grads put down as their best memory had to do with their experience in small groups.

Here are the grads own words:

“I loved being kidnapped . . . by my small group leaders. It was always fun being surprised and spending the day with my small group.”

“My favorite memory is having our annual small group Christmas party/sleepover.”

Just another reason why we love small groups.

To the small group leaders out there: You are making an impact. You have influence. Sometimes we just have to wait until they graduate (or later) to see it or hear it.

To the small group leaders out there: Thank You!

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Just Say Thank You

thanksHow many times have parents needed to remind their children of the “magic words” – please and thank you? My wife regularly prompts us to say thank you, whether to a coach, a server at a restaurant or whoever purchased the meal on that day. Not only is it good manners, scientific research is showing there is real benefit in expressing gratitude.

I try to write occasional personal thank you’s to volunteers. Even if someone isn’t being paid for a service, a heart-felt thank you can go a long way.

Dr. Robert Emmons, from the University of California Davis, and his team have done research on the role gratitude. They have learned that people who view life as a gift and consciously acquire an “attitude of gratitude” experience multiple advantages. “Gratitude improves emotional and physical health, and can strengthen relationships and communities.”

In explaining his research, Dr. Emmons wrote, “Scientists are latecomers to the concept of gratitude. Religions and philosophies have long embraced gratitude as an indispensable manifestation of virtue, and an integral component of health, wholeness, and well-being.”

Another great reminder to all of us to just say thank you!