The year before we planted the Vineyard Church in Ithaca somehow I convinced a recent Cornell graduate, James Cherian, to stay in Ithaca for another year and take part in an internship. While there was some books to read, and projects to complete, the major part of the internship was in theological terms, “hanging out” with me.
We ate together, went on car trips together (as two of the most introverted people you’ll meet, we had many very quiet car rides at first), watched movies, ran errands, you get the idea. At the end of the internship James came on staff at this new church we were planting. Fifteen years later I’m in Dublin, and James is still a key leader at the Vineyard and a great friend.
At the same time I was working with James, I was meeting on a weekly basis with a number of Cornell students. Talking about things that were going on in their life, faith, whatever happened to come up. And of course doing a lot of eating together…which tends to be a common theme. (Most of whom we are still in contact with…another common theme.)
Once the Ithaca Vineyard started growing a bit, I stopped having time for that kind of stuff. (At least that’s what I told myself.) Sure I met with a lot of people, but usually for some type of meeting, small group, or training event.
About 3 years ago it hit me that I was so busy doing ministry, that I hadn’t been “making disciples” for a long time. I grabbed a couple people, began meeting with them regularly, and after a few months in realized, whatever it is Liz & I do going forward here in Ireland, discipleship…actually living life with and investing in people has to be at the core.
The challenge was figuring out the practicalities. How many people can we do this with? How can we ensure that whatever it is we do, that it replicates…that it isn’t just me?
I’d poked around Mike Breen’s blog for a while, I just recently read his book Building a Discipling Culture. It was one of those books where the whole way through it I’m thinking, “This is it. I think this is how this can work.”
So I finished reading the book on my phone one night, switched over to the web browser & looked up how I could get more info on 3dm and a tool they use called huddles. (read here for more info on huddles)
One key idea behind huddles is that you need to be in a huddle before you start one…even if you’ve led small groups, for years and read Building a Discipling Culture, you really needed to be in a coaching huddle. It didn’t appear that there were any huddles going on in Ireland, so I figured this would be a down the road type of thing.
A couple weeks later, I received an email inviting me to participate a new coaching huddle. Although the huddle is made up of a group of people from the states, we meet via Google Hangouts.
One advantage being in Dublin is that while the people in the US are starting the huddle at 7 or 8 am each Friday for the next year, the start time here is 1 pm. (Today is week two.)
I’m excited about being part of this, because I really see how this model fits in well with the church we want to see start here in Dublin. I’ll be sharing various things we’re learning as things move along.
Love to hear from any of you who has participated in a huddle before what your experience was like.