The summer is a great time to get away and take a break. It’s also a valuable opportunity to reflect on the academic year that has passed, and to be (hopefully) encouraged by the growth that has taken place in various aspects of life. Whether that be personally, relationally, professionally, or spiritually… I’m fairly certain we can all observe some movement in these areas of our lives, because nothing ever stays the same.
Unfortunately, it’s not always a given that change equates to growth and progression. Sometimes, it can be sliding backwards or regression.
As a plant enthusiast, I can see this in my houseplants. Many of them have grown taller, more dangly, and sprawling as the months go by. But sadly, some have withered away and died. While I do hope that they can grow organically, for the ones who survive the test of time, I find that there frequently has been deliberate intervention on my part to encourage life to continue.
I’m not just talking about watering and putting it near the sun. There’s also pruning, pest control, pot rotation, fertilising, etc. I’m not God and can’t make things grow, but I can be strategic and try my best to help that happen as much as possible. I find the same mindset helpful for ministry, and we try to implement a similar structure for our Oxygen Growth Groups. Inspired a lot by the ideas in Colin Marshall and Tony Payne’s book The Trellis and The Vine, we believe that growth happens only by being rooted in Jesus Christ and his word, but putting helpful structures in place to help foster healthy and sustainable growth is like having a well-positioned trellis in place for a plant. That is why we put such an emphasis on leadership training and encouraging people to write their own Bible study questions for their groups.
While structures can be helpful, we must never forget that they are only in place to facilitate a greater purpose. I’ve often heard it said (in a complimentary manner) that St Andrew’s is a wonderful Bible-teaching church, and that’s a brilliant thing to hear! That’s what we strive for. But on the other end of the critique spectrum, I have also heard it said that we can be too “academic”. This is not an either-or situation. We need to be built up in God’s word in order to be transformed so that we can faithfully love him and his people more perfectly.
Our Bible Studies and Growth Group structures are in place so that we as a people can grow in this community of God as we sit under his word together. Let’s make the most of the “trellises” that we have at St Andrew’s. Are you not yet in a Growth Group? Are you a university student or a young worker in your 20s-30s? Then come join us at Oxygen!
It’s pretty hard to grow on your own, and we would love to have you on board.