Small Group #8 – Tuesday AM Women’s Group… with Kellie Carwell & Leigh McAfee


As Small Groups launch this Sunday, we want to highlight some of the groups. In this post, Susan Gonzalez writes about her experience with Small Group #8 (led by Kellie Carwell & Leigh McAfee)

 “What have I learned from small group? 

I’m into community building.

I’m people oriented.

I like to laugh.

I am really into routines and consistency.

I’m a broken individual who seeks God’s love and mercy.

I am not a morning person.

It’s Monday night, I set my alarm for 5:15 a.m. I repeat, I’m not a morning person. I hit snooze once, usually twice, get-it-together and head out the door for my 6:30 a.m. small group at Kellie’s house. Upon my arrival, I’m always greeted by familiar sleepy faces, and I make my way to my usual place on the couch with a cup of tea in hand.

This is one of the few consistencies in my life full of crazy. It’s what grounds me, it’s what fills my heart and it’s what gives me the courage to be myself and face challenges in our ever-changing world. It’s the only sense of community I have had since moving to Arlington seven years ago. In a small group, we are known, we are loved and we are prayed for. It’s my tribe.”

Interested in this small group? Sign up here

Small Group #25 – Beautiful Mess: Motherhood for Every Moment…with Jenna Parkhurst

Beautiful Mess Image

As Small Groups are about to begin, we want to highlight a few of the new groups. Here is a description of SG #25, led by Jenna Parkhurst.

New Mom’s Small Group – Thursday @ 7 PM

Having a new baby is an amazing, exhausting, and a balancing act. As a new mom, you are pulled in many directions at the same time. Finding time for yourself, and for God, often is last on your to-do list. Join other new moms in finding balance, and reconnecting with yourself and God. We will spend time in fellowship, talking about concerns, celebrating mom successes, and looking at scripture through the bible study book Beautiful Mess: Motherhood for Every Moment.

Interested in this small group? Sign up here

Small Group #14 – The Divine Conspiracy…with Michael Wear

Divine Conspiracy Image

As Small Groups are about to begin, we want to highlight a few of the new groups. Here is a description of SG #14  by Michael Wear.

I was fifteen-years old when I became a Christian after reading Romans. Almost immediately, I became concerned with a simple question: what now? What does it look like to be a Christian in the here and now? What does it mean to be transformed into the likeness of Christ? How does this happen?

Though I might have answered these questions in the “right” way, I think I operated as though we were left to our own devices to follow Jesus. I think many of us do.

I first read Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy in 2010, and it helped to reinvigorate my faith with a vision of life in the kingdom of God now. I began to notice in scripture for the first time how God has made resources—how God has made Himself–available to us for this transforming work.

I saw it in Jesus’ prayer in John 17: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:1b-4).

The question “what now?” motivates much of the Christian life, and as we find answers in scripture, in prayer and in community, we can then ask God to help us respond. I am trying to ask that question every day, though I fall short, and respond as God would have me—I definitely fall short there.

What can help us in this walk of faith is to know that we’re traveling with others. This is part of the beauty of small groups here at Restoration: we do not struggle alone, we move forward in faith with a community of people who have declared fidelity to Christ and try to live that out with God’s help, asking for the help He has already promised us for that task.

Across Restoration this Spring trimester, we will express as a church once again our desire to see ourselves and our fellow congregants transformed further into the likeness of Christ. I am excited to walk through that book that impacted me so profoundly years ago, The Divine Conspiracy, with my small group. Together, we’ll consider Willard’s insights, reflect on scripture, spend time in prayer, ask “what now?,” and urge on another on as we think together about how God might be calling us to respond.

Oh, and I almost forgot: I’ll also cook Italian food for the group for dinner. That is going to be delicious.

I am looking forward to what God has in store for us this Spring, and thankful for the blessing of this wonderful community of people seeking God together.

Interested in this small group? Sign up here

the measure of your faith

different measures

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Romans 12: 3

On Sunday, we considered what it means to not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think.  If we have chosen to follow Jesus, we have chosen a life that that requires a reorientation of what lies at our center.  In order to mature and to grow up as a Christian, we must change the way we think about ourselves–  we must embrace a diminishing self-awareness, a diminishing self-consciousness, a diminishing self-referential orientation.

In order to do that, Paul instructs us to think with sober judgment according to the measure of faith that we have been given.  This phrase ‘measure of faith’ has perplexed scholars for a long time.  C. E. B.  Cranfield, writing over 50 years ago, states in his commentary that

‘measure’ has 7 possible meanings, ‘faith’ has 5, and ‘of’ has 2, making 70 possible combinations altogether!”

But from that diversity, scholars usually distill 1 or 2 meanings as they look at this passage.  They are both important for us as we seek to offer all of who we are to God (Rom 12:1).

Option 1:  ‘measure’ as the standard of something.

That is ‘measure’ refers to an instrument for measuring something.  Both Cranfield and the late Rev. John Stott support this option.  Stott sums it up best:

A standard by which to measure ourselves; that this for all Christians is the same, namely saving faith in Christ crucified; and that only this gospel of the cross, indeed only ‘Christ himself in whom God’s judgment and mercy are revealed’, can enable us to measure ourselves soberly.

According to this view, to think of ourselves rightly, followers of Jesus are called on to estimate themselves in accord with the standard of their faith, Jesus himself.  We measure our actions and our choices against the idea of how Jesus would do it.  We think with sober judgment using Jesus as our ruler and our aspiration.

Option 2:  Measure as the quantity of something

In this option, measure relates to the apportioning of our faith- meaning that God gives a varying amount of faith to different Christians.

Paul is speaking of the quantity of faith or trust that each believer possesses.  Paul acknowledges elsewhere that believers have different levels of faith (Romans 14.1)…

Some of us are weak at some points and strong at others.  For example, one person may have a lot of faith about financial matters–  they do not experience anxiety or worry about whether they have enough or how they will pay for something.  But that same person may lack faith about relationships–  consequently they experience great anxiety about things they said, conflicts they have experienced, and situations that feel unresolved.  In God’s unique creativity, He has given a large measure of faith to a specific person about a specific situation and not as much faith about a different category.

So thinking soberly about ourselves in this second option requires that we recognize that in some situations we will be weak and in others we will be strong.  Thus we need people around us who are strong in our weakness to help us think rightly about ourselves and the context in which we find ourselves.

Called to go deep in the body of Christ

Both of these options require that we would be deeply known within our local expression of the body of Christ–  so that we have people who are pushing us towards the standard of Jesus himself AND so that we have people who fill up our measure of faith where it is low.

At Restoration, we provide a place for you to do that in our small groups.  They all start next week.  So you have time to sign up and jump in right at the beginning.  The trimester is short–  only 8 weeks.  You don’t want to miss any of it.  So sign up today.

May we be people who think rightly about ourselves–  according to the measure of faith that God has given us.  Thanks be to God for the people He has put in our life to help us do just that.


Small Group #18 – New To Restoration Small Group


Are you (or “newish”) to Restoration? Are you curious about why we do the things we do? Then please join the New to Restoration Small Group (Group #18) this trimester. This is a great place to meet other folks in our congregation, and learn more about our church (our vision, values, priorities, connection to the Anglican church, etc.)  We will meet on Wednesday’s from 7:30-9 PM at the church (childcare is available).

– Nathan Dickerson

Small Group #12 – Discussing the Spiritual Classics


Deciding which Small Group to join? Perhaps this group is the one for youSmall Group #12

We will be reading Spiritual Classics, which looks at spiritual disciplines, such as meditation, prayer, study, solitude, service, confession, worship, etc. The book has excerpts from various classic Christian writers, including Simone Weil, Thomas More, Augustine, AW Tozer, George MacDonald. If you want to join us, please try to buy the book for the first meeting. We hope to see you there!

– Barb Bradley Hagerty, Elizabeth & Wray Fitch

SG option #28 (or should that be #1?)

20140612_174910 John: “Merhaba! Nasılsınız?”
Aisha: “Çok iyiyim, teşekkürler. Ya siz?”
John: “Ben de çok iyiyim. Tamam, güle güle!”

20140614_112725 (1)If you don’t know what John and Aisha are talking about, but you would like to, now is your chance to learn. The “Introduction to Turkish Language (with some thoughts on the Sermon)” small group will meet this trimester on Thursdays, 7:30-9:00 at the Grays’ house. Infants are invited as well. Learn a little Turkish, and the world is your oyster.

John: Aisha Hanım, siz ne zaman önce Istanbul’a gittiniz?

Aisha: Geçen yıl Istanbul’a gittim.

John: Ben de, ne tessaduf! Çok güzel!


See you all in Istanbul!

~Julia, Megan, Simon and Liz

SG #16 – Christianity Explored…with Michael & Jen Dodson


Continuing our series about new Small Groups options, here are a few words about from Michael & Jen Dodson, leaders of Small Group #16

Christianity Explored is a short course, using Mark’s gospel, to consider three questions:

(1) Who was Jesus? (2) What did he actually say and do? (3) Why does it matter?

The format is relational and conversational.  We’ll share a meal, have a short talk, and then enter into conversation. The course is not confessional i.e. no expectation of knowledge coming in; no expectation of commitment going out.

So why should you come?

(1) Religion for the sake of religion is not a worthy endeavor if the foundation is untrue.  God gives us the Bible and his Spirit so we can read and know first-hand that this thing is true.  We aren’t just making a plea to non-believers:  many Christians have never engaged with the source documents and allowed God to show them the truth of the gospel.  This is a safe place to question, engage and test for truth.

(2) Being ready and willing to speak and explain the gospel is hard for most people, even when someone is asking questions and clearly ready to have the conversation.  This course is an opportunity to bring those people along. People are often ready to come if you, their friend or co-worker, will invite and come with them.  Rarely will people come on their own if all you do is tell them about the course and give them an email address.

(3) If you have never sat down and worked through a book of the Bible, much less sat alongside someone else and worked through a book of the Bible with them, then you should come.  Mark is cohesive story, meant to elucidate true events.  It’s meant to be read in full, evaluated, wrestled with, questioned, and digested.  No PhD required: you just need to take the book seriously and be willing to ask serious questions.  We are going to do that, and once you’ve seen it done you can do it yourself.

That’s it.  No knowledge is expected.  We won’t pray or sing or ask anyone to read aloud.  You can ask any question you want. Come.  Bring friends.

Interested in joining this group? Sign up here


SG #30 – The Meaning of Marriage…with Ray & BJ Blunt


As Small Groups Sign-Up’s get started this fall, we wanted to tell you about a few of the options. Here are a few words from Ray Blunt, leader of small group #30

If there is any difficult but supremely rewarding challenge in life it is a long term marriage. Sure it’s tough, but by God’s grace and strength we come to realize that the goodness He intended for this relationship mirrors the eternal love dance of the Trinity. That is why we are offering this group for couples to gather together to examine the biblical and practical principles of marriage.

We will be reading and discussing Tim and Kathy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage as a framework for looking at the reality of our own relationships – after the dust of the reception and the honeymoon have settled and life together has begun. If the past is prologue, there are lots of hilarious stories to share and lots of “I know what you mean” moments that will occur.

If you feel ready for a deeper and practical understanding of what Paul calls “a mystery,” please come join us in our home in Mount Vernon on Thursday evenings this fall at 7:30-9:00. You will find some kindred spirits to accompany you on the journey for a while.

  • Ray & B.J. Blunt

Interested in joining this group? Sign up here

R you in one?



R you in one?…  as we start Tri1, 2015 it’s time to ask the question again…

But perhaps you’re thinking – Why?

Well…  it’s because we think small groups are the heart of Restoration. It’s where we connect with God and each other and the Word in a safe and gently accountable way!

If you’re new around here, it’s a great way to meet people in a contained, finite group. Each trimester only lasts around 10 weeks, and we sign up every trimester so you can always pick a different group next time. Some people stick in the same group for a number of trimesters for continuity, some switch it up every trimester so they get to meet new people. Your choice!

We ask members to commit to being in a small group every trimester (as far as possible) as it’s where we develop community and friendships; where we grow the next generation of leaders; where we pray regularly for each other and our partners; where we read the Bible together and work out what it is saying to us individually and corporately.

So if you’re not in one yet – why not give it a shot? Sign up here, or email Liz if you have questions…

Looking forward to hearing about your small group adventures of 2015!


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