Updated: Aug 15, 2019
“How is it with your soul?” Soul groups at Virginia Wesleyan University!
In the fall semester 2018, ‘soul groups’ were launched within our Marlin Ministry Lead Team. We had three groups of three students each. The agenda for these gatherings was to answer the question, “How is it with your soul?” These weren’t Bible studies, however, the Bible was certainly used! “What’s going on at the intersection of God and your life?” It’s a chance to celebrate together and a chance to get honest about our struggles. The atmosphere is always grace and truth with the welcome to God‘s Holy Spirit to guide and provide whatever is needed!
These groups are of course modeled after the Class Meetings that the early Methodists required. We Methodists have a stunning theology of how God reaches out to each of us with His love and correction; and we have a very and incredibly high view of how God can transform us in this life, more and more towards Christ-likeness! Prevenient Grace and Christian Perfection!
The positive experiences that our student leaders had in these ‘soul groups’, lead us to the decision to launch more groups for more students in the spring of 2019. Jason Brugman and Justin Robins, who were instrumental in making this a success, serve as interns with myself as "Chaplain Greg West." They helped to launch six ‘soul groups’ in the spring with 24 students participating. The training for group leaders included creating the atmosphere of grace and truth, navigating times when students are in crisis, when someone dominates the group, making sure confidentiality is held, and praying for the group.
It is very clear that deep relationships are formed in these groups and that following Christ in community has tremendous benefits! It is a significant commitment though, and not everyone was ready to follow through with this, yet others joined mid-semester. One of the groups never really got off the ground, however, another group was so successful that two groups formed out of it. Discipleship is a journey, and a costly one at that; but Jesus commanded it, and he knows what’s best for us!
There are numerous other groups that gather on a weekly basis at Virginia Wesleyan University. Our prayer team grew from 5 students to more than 15 by the end of this spring semester!
In all of our groups we make room for those who do not yet believe in Christ. Young people especially need places to ask the difficult and challenging questions of life, of the Bible and of God! We praise God that we have seen many receive Jesus as Savior and Lord here on campus! Ashley Kline is one of those students. She trusted in Christ for salvation during her freshman year and was very active with Marlin Ministries throughout her time at VWU. She graduated this May and is off to Asbury Theological Seminary this fall, pursuing an M.A. in Biblical Studies!
We want to make Jesus known, loved and obeyed so we seek to spread Scriptural holiness across our campus and land! Remember, Jesus didn’t start a mega church, he started a mini church. A small group of the 12 disciples and the women who are always with him. And for the first 100 years of our Methodist movement, small groups (class meetings) were required of all! Small groups are the method of Jesus and the method of the Methodists!
Greg West, Chaplain Virginia Weslyan University