Rationale

In our March 2022 church-wide survey, we asked, “How can we help you grow spiritually, helping you grow closer to God?” 45% of respondents wanted small group opportunities.

We also asked, “What can we do differently for everyone to feel connected and cared for?”

56% of respondents said that checking in on those not attending church either in person or online would be good. Another 56% suggested having more social activities, and 46% thought having community or congregational outreach activities would help people feel connected. Again, creating small groups can respond to these requests.

Purpose

The first purpose of BUMC Canopy Groups is to nurture healthy and spiritually competent Christians using a peer-based relationship-building model. This model is based on a holistic approach aimed toward sustaining theologically astute, spiritually empowering, socially well-informed, culturally adaptable, and physically healthy Christians. 

The second purpose is to engage members of the group in identifying the needs of each participant.

Goals:

  • To encourage BUMC members and friends to be accountable for watching over one another in love.
  • To renew spiritual vitality by following the steps of Lectio Divina* as disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • To provide space for BUMC members and friends to be heard despite their differences.  
  • To challenge BUMC members and friends to become informed about the current issues of the day and take action to make a difference.
  • To provide resources to BUMC members and friends to nurture innovative leadership at BUMC and beyond the church.  

*Lectio Divina: Lectio Divina means “divine reading” and includes reading (lectio), reflecting (meditatio), response (oratio), and resting (contemplatio) in God.

What is BUMC Canopy Group?

The image of a canopy in the Old Testament reflects the presence of God protecting God’s people. Isaiah reminds Christians that the presence of God shall rest like a canopy over the church and its assemblies (Isaiah 4:5-6). Therefore, we will name BUMC’s small group structure BUMC Canopy.  

A BUMC Canopy is a small group aimed toward an internal gathering of the BUMC family. BUMC Canopy is modeled after John Wesley’s small group bands. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, established different meetings, from larger to smaller: Methodist societies, class meetings, bands, and Holy Club. Wesley’s bands had six to eight members, and they were encouraged to be accountable to each other as disciples of Jesus Christ. John Wesley’s band meetings were related to the concepts of new birth, justification, assurance, and sanctification.

BUMC Canopy groups are composed of small groups of eight to ten people with a facilitator. We will practice listening deeply to one another and loving unconditionally to heal people’s wounds of loss, disappointment, and loneliness, especially during the pandemic in this small group setting. The BUMC Canopy is centered on introspection and mutual supervision of the soul. Historically, Wesley’s small groups have proved that they achieved love and growth in unity. The final goal of the BUMC Canopy is to harmoniously seek growth in holiness and pursue holy living motivated by flexibility and change. As we are in the flux of living in a liminal space, we want to approach our practices not to be either-or but both-and.

Canopy Facilitator Responsibilities:

  • Canopy members can take turns being a facilitator
  • Form a group following the Formation of a Canopy.
  • Coordinate the meeting schedule
  • Submit BUMC Canopy Group Form
  • Follow the BUMC Regular Canopy Group Meeting Agenda for each meeting
  • Attend the Canopy Facilitators’ Meeting twice a year.
  • Submit Annual BUMC Canopy Group Evaluation Form

How do you organize a Canopy Group?

Each group will need a facilitator (this person takes care of the logistics of the group and initiate an invitation).

Here are the first steps to starting your group (following these steps is crucial for sustaining your group):

1.      Form a group of 8-10 members

Following these steps are crucial for sustaining your group:  You invite one friend – two of you invite a friend each – four of you invite a friend each. You can have up to ten and pastors may suggest your group to take new members. 

Please keep diversity in mind when you invite a friend, such as age, racial and ethnic background, gender, sexuality, etc.  In this way, we will avoid the BUMC Canopy Group becoming clicks.  

2.      Once you form a group, please get in touch with Rev. HiRho at hrpark@washmorefeet.org and share about your group and submit the BUMC Band Form.

How often does a Canopy group meet?

A Canopy will have at least six face-to-face meetings in a year. A Canopy is encouraged to connect by Zoom when in person meeting is not feasible.

Where does a Canopy meet?

A Canopy can meet at a member’s house, church, or anywhere the Canopy group feels comfortable (outdoor, restaurant, club, etc.).

Evaluation of a Canopy Group

Annually, on January 10th, the facilitator will provide the evaluation form of their Canopy group to make adjustments for the future direction.