The trust and closeness built in a group over time can become the foundation for spiritual friendships—relationships in which individuals call each other to a deeper understanding of God’s love and will. Sometimes a change from routine forms of prayer can awaken in us a new sense of God’s presence. Keep your group in mind as you read the ideas in this section. How vulnerable are members with each other? What will gently encourage them to take new steps of faith on their spiritual journeys?
Ask group members to bring an item that symbolizes their faith in non-traditional ways (not a cross or Bible). Invite each person to talk about the item she brought. Tape- or video-record these sharings and consider compiling them into a book or program as a testimony to your church.
Early in the year, present each member with a “Blessing Bag,” suggesting that they put it where they will notice it daily. Invite them to write down things they are grateful for, even in times of stress; soon the bags will be full to the brim. At Thanksgiving, bring the bags to a group session and read through the items, sharing some with a partner.*
Support each other’s ministries by having members bring an item that symbolizes a way in which they serve others and share about their hopes and obstacles in this ministry. Display the items throughout the year as a reminder to remember each other in prayer.
Schedule a time of sharing books and other publications or articles that group members have found spiritually uplifting.
Search the Bible for stories of women and girls that celebrate their gifts. Think of parallel stories of present-day women with similar gifts. Reflect on these stories, pondering how you can imitate these sisters in the faith.
Covenant together to memorize scripture, possibly choosing passages from your Bible study or from your weekly church bulletins.
As a group choose a biblical story and have each person rewrite it from the point of view of one of the characters. Share the insights you gained and discuss your different interpretations of the story.
Prompt journal writing by circulating a list of questions and topics, such as: My spirit grieved when _______ , I don’t understand ________, God spoke to me when ________, Faithfulness means ______. For tips on journaling, go to www.writingthejourney.com.
Pass on your legacy of faith by writing letters to children you love, telling of your faith journey. Share openly the struggles and joys you’ve faced, and express your love and prayers for these children. Letters—as well as journals—can be tape-recorded as well as written out.
On slips of paper, write words like Courage, Open, Overflowing, Persevere, Still. Have each member draw one from a “God’s Gifts Bowl” at the end of each meeting. Encourage them to reflect on their word in following days, observing (and possibly journaling about) how it appears in their life. The next week, invite people to share reflections on their word.
* Adapted from “The Blessing Bag” by Karen O’Connor, The Wesleyan Woman, Fall 1998.