A reader of Christian Faith and Reason recently asked several questions about an article I wrote for that magazine on Abrahamic Small Groups.
Readers of this blog may find his questions and my responses of interest.
1. Tell me more about the overall goal of Abrahamic Small Groups.
The goal is simply to promote understanding and peace between Christians, Muslims, and Jews in America at the family and individual level.
2. Tell me more about your mission and the organization behind it.
There is no organization behind it at present. A non-profit corporation, The Global Great Awakening, may be organized and incorporated to promote the development of Abrahamic Small Groups first throughout the United States, and then around the world. But for now, it's my family, a couple of other Christian families, a couple of Muslim families, and a Jewish family in Nashville.
There is also a Facebook Group you can join called Abrahamic Small Groups which has 26 members around the world as of this writing.
3. Tell me about some of the feed back you are getting from the groups currently meeting.
Only the Nashville group has met so far. And the feedback has been fabulous. All the families participating are enthusiastic and energetic about the next meeting. Every family had some great curriculum ideas for future meetings.
4. What are some of the issues that have come up due to differences in faith practice. Has there been unwanted proselytizing by any of the faiths involved?
Since The Nashville Agreement (the original organizing document of the Abrahamic Small Group movement) specifically prohibits proselytizing, it has not been an issue at all. Besides, there's so much to learn about the other religions, there's really no time for proselytizing.
5. What local support do these groups have? Are they endorsed by churches, mosques or synagogues? Or has the opposite been found to be the case?
We haven't sought any endorsement from churches, mosques, or synagogues, other than occasionally asking for an opportunity to speak about the existence of Abrahamic Small Groups. We have specifically avoided involving rabbis, imams, priests, and ministers in the organization of these groups, though we welcome their participation in group meetings.
An important point here is to emphasize that Abrahamic Small Groups are about interfaith ENGAGEMENT and not interfaith DIALOGUE. Dialogue per se tends to be overly intellectual, impersonal, and leads nowhere. ENGAGEMENT, on the other hand, is designed to touch the hearts of participants.
6. Anything else that you can think to tell me regarding these groups which you think I would find interesting.
Come to the January 13, 2008 Abrahamic Small Group meeting in Nashville from 3 pm to 5 pm. Send me a private message and I will tell you when and where !