With our Deepen Retreats approaching, I have been thinking about our two approaches on the retreats: silence with solitude and community in small groups. Silence with solitude helps us focus on God with less distractions. Small groups let us experience community where fellow believers share grace and life with us. Both are necessary.Being alone with God and being among others with God is an important balance we need in our lives. Click To Tweet
A life of only solitude and silence is the life of a hermit. Solitude and silence will help us pray for community, but community helps us know what to pray. What we learn in solitude and silence with the Lord is diminished if we do not have community with which to share it.
At Deepen Retreats we attempt this balance. We start community in small groups at the very beginning of the retreat. Then we move to silence. We spread out in the space. We turn off distracting voices; from others, from our phones, and from inside our own heads. We tune into the Lord with guided study and reflection. Then we break the silence. We come back to our small groups and talk about what we have learned and what we heard from the Lord during our silence. Though we still have time for personal study time, sharing in community becomes central.
I think we see this pattern several times in the Bible. Moses had both solitude and community. Elijah fled from Jezebel into solitude but after God met him, God sent him back to the prophets and particularly to Elisha. Apparently, John the Baptizer experienced both solitude and community. Certainly, Jesus experienced both multiple times in his ministry.
How is your balance between solitude and silence and being in community (expressed in small group)? A Deepen retreat will help you learn more about this balance and help you achieve this balance back home.
The Deepen Men’s Retreat will be March 16-18. You will find information and registration at this link. The Deepen Women’s Retreat will be March 23-25. This link takes you to the women’s information and registration. Both retreats will be hosted at beautiful Camp Siloam in Siloam Springs, AR. Participation is limited to only 50 in each retreat. Please follow the links and register quickly as space will fill up. This retreat will challenge you and bless you. You will return home with a plan you created to help you deepen your walk with the Lord. Our lives here can be deep beyond measure.
While we are talking about small groups, here are some blogs I have recently found that you might find helpful as you lead your small group:
- How to Start a Small Group Bible Study in 9 Easy Steps by Rick Howerton
- 5 Tips to Facilitating an Effective Small Group Discussion by Josh Evans
- 3 Keys to Turn Around a Struggling Small Group by Jim Egli
- How to Discuss the Sermon in Your Small Group by Ryan Higginbottom
Scripture: Read Matthew 14:22-33. What do you learn about community and solitude in this passage?
Dig Deeper: Read Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence by Ruth Haley Barton.
Now It’s Your Turn: How do you understand the relationship between community and solitude? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.