Dear Aspen Ridge Church,
Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to be your new Director of Small Groups! I am extremely humbled by it and grateful for the opportunity to serve. I want to also thank our former director, Bob Blake, for his faithful service to small groups in his volunteer capacity. Bob and Diana Blake spent countless hours teaching, loving and leading small group leaders at Aspen Ridge. They leave a rich legacy and firm foundation in the small group program from which God, in his providence, may further build. It is toward this end that I must say - I can't wait to get to work!
Aspen Ridge Church wants to be more than a church with small groups, we want to be a church of small groups. We want it to be our lifeblood. Small groups are places where we love, learn and do. We dream of a day where every adult in our body is a member of one or more healthy small groups. We strive for this, not for frivolous reasons or a numbers game, but because we know healthy small group life radically changes lives. Small groups change individual lives and empower us to change the lives of the lost and needy around us. Literally. Many of you have experienced this first hand. I have as well.
The God of the Bible used the small group system here and my relationship with Pastor Jeff to literally snatch me from the "blah of lukewarmness" to a believer, passionate for the Gospel! This is one of the reasons I have a fire for the small group system at Aspen Ridge and want to build it further. It is also one of the reasons I look forward to partnering with you to change other lives by showing the light of God to our mountain community, teaching them everything Jesus taught us (Matthew 28:19-20).
For those in small groups already, I plan to visit every small group to say "thank you" in person and to get to know you better. I love this church and am blessed to know many of you already, so I am especially looking forward to getting to know the rest of you. Aspen Ridge has 18 adult small groups, some of which meet at the same time, so my visit to your group may take me some time. I would call this my "thank you tour," however, I think a recent politician already coined that phrase! My visit to your group will be a unique opportunity for me to get to listen to you and learn about your group. I am excited to get to know your small group demographics, dynamics and what makes the heart of your group beat so that I can learn how to best help you thrive. Knowing your individual group DNA will also help me introduce new folks to your group. Individually and collectively, would you begin to start praying for the people who may respond to God's call to fill the empty chairs in your group?
For those not in small groups yet, I want to get to know you better as well and answer any questions or concerns you may have. Perhaps I can even guide you to a group that you will fall in love with. I want to let you know from the get go that I will never guilt you into joining a small group. The reality of joining a small group at Aspen Ridge is not meant to be a burden of guilt, instead, it is a gracious invitation from God to join him in what he is doing in this mountain community through the saving work of Jesus Christ. He has given us all we need to respond to this small group invitation and the great commission calling. For those who have crossed the line of faith, would you begin to pray about small groups and which one(s) God wants you to be a part of? For those who have yet to cross the line of Christian faith, I want to encourage you that joining a small group is one of the best ways to explore faith in action and should also be a warm environment to ask your questions.
As I begin this small group journey with you, I think of the poetic words in Ephesians, chapter two. These words are some of my favorite in all of scripture because they vividly paint the beauty of God's grace in my mind every time I read them. I particularly like the New Living Translation, because when I read it, I picture God as the great artist that he is: "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). I believe that Aspen Ridge Church is God's masterpiece. As we move forward together in this journey of small group life, I picture him adding brush strokes and color to us. I picture him redeeming, restoring and beautifying us. As all good artwork does, I picture us radiating his beauty into each other within small groups and, in turn, the community around us. We have the privilege to reflect God's great artistic beauty as we serve our neighbors and share the good news with them. And as Ephesians so beautifully illustrates, God has already planned these good things for us to do. We just need to say "yes" to his gracious invitation to join him in what is already planned. I look forward to joining God, and you, in the good things He planned for us long ago.
Director of Small Groups