12 August 2022

Growth Groups drive younger participation

Younger adults have formed close connections in the Growth Groups. Picture: supplied by Esther Mathew.

Jenan Taylor

2 August 2022

More young adults may be attending a Deep Creek church because of its diverse groups approach to Bible study.

Deep Creek Anglican senior minister the Reverend Megan Curlis-Gibson said the church had shown steady growth and believes its young adult numbers in particular were thriving because of the community they had found in the Growth Groups program.

Centred largely around Bible study in individual member’s homes, the Growth Groups was a way that new people became integrated with the community, Ms Curlis-Gibson said. 

She said more than half of the church’s active members participated in them.

Group coordinator Esther Mathew said there were around 85 members in the nine groups which ran either weekly or fortnightly, and that a tenth one aimed at the church’s Iranian members was also planned.

She said the groups were mostly age oriented with a couple for young adults, two for young families and two for people aged in their 50s to retirement, a couple for more elderly congregants, and a group for professional women.

She said initially there had been around seven groups and only 10 or 12 young people among them.  

Group leaders discerned interest from people by noting who was new in the church and then making a concerted effort to start conversations with them to make them feel welcome, she said.

Read more: Phone-based Bible study builds meaningful connections

“I think the key is really just making them feel comfortable, and a part of the community to begin with. And then they kind of want to find other ways of being integrated a bit deeper. And that’s how the Growth Groups then come into play,” Ms Mathew said.

While the groups for older people were more likely to gather in the church’s meeting rooms, the younger members tended to prefer to meet weekly in each other’s homes, where they would share a meal.

It seemed to build the connection for Deep Creek’s younger people and had helped them form a close-knit cluster.

She also said it was important to engage with them in a way that was different to the usual approach to Bible studies which, for them, meant incorporating listening to podcasts during some of the group discussions.

While Deep Creek kept most of the course work specific to a group, some was also church-wide to encourage conversations among the broader congregation she said.

But Ms Mathew also said that as the church’s values and mission included being a multigenerational church and as there was a wide span of ages, she planned to link up some of the Growth gatherings in future.

“It might be connecting the young adults with the 50s to 60s Growth group, maybe four times in a year over a meal.  Spending a couple of hours together to just learn of each other’s experience and knowledge is a good way of getting to know other members in the church,” Ms Mathew said.

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