I had a fun night out with friends at The City Winery to see Rhoda G, a brilliant saxophonist, and native St Louisan. This performance was giving me life for a few reasons.
You could see she was doing what she loved and was filled with gratitude. She thanked the audience several times for selling out the place and being her people. She exuded so much joy.
She played her instruments, sang, and danced. One of the most touching parts was her serenading and dancing for her wife by leaving the stage and joining her in the audience. Awww.
I absolutely love when musicians let the audience in on the song. We sang songs in chorus and for those few moments, you feel an elevated bond with everyone in the room. She created that space for us to experience that.
Witnessing another person’s joy is contagious. Seeing someone do what they love ignites sparks of one’s own purpose or passion. Leading or participating in groups is like having a front-row seat at how God is moving and transforming people’s lives. Seeing folks go from mourning or indifference to joy and commitment can be inspiring for the person and those who watch this change take place in them.
Rhoda G, like all of us, has her own way of dancing. I love to dance and I get a kick out of watching other people’s moves. To me, dance is the highest form of self-expression and it’s fun! Whatever we do for Christ - enjoy it, have fun! If your work is hard, in the trenches with people, I recommend taking dance breaks just for yourself to remember joy in the midst of trying or difficult work with others.
Lastly, creating a space where people freely and openly sing together reminded me that small groups can be that too - a sacred and safe space to let people’s voices be heard. For some people, they are learning to trust their voice, and others are unsure what to say or if they can say what’s really on their mind. A small group can create a space where people speak up and “sing” whether it’s harmony or a minor key, it’s the practice of using their voice that matters.
Rhoda G is an example of gratitude, joy, embodiment, and a facilitator of an authentic space.
This year the small group leader retreat’s theme is Embrace Grace & Create Space. As we embrace and say yes to God's grace in our lives and relationships, may we also make room to invite new people to experience thanks, and sheer joy, to dance and freely express themselves.
If you or your church is planning small groups for fall, email firstname.lastname@example.org
to receive the free training: 90 Days to Launch Your Small Groups.
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© Charity Goodwin, 2023.
(Photo: She's in the middle, back wearing blue)