“Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God—experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused.” –  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

There are a few misconceptions about P.L. Travers mainly due to the fact that it was hard to know the real Pamela. The movie Saving Mr. Banks tries to peel back some of the story where you find a girl with a colorful imagination who was the product of a strange, stern and seemingly lonely upbringing. I’m not sure all the characterizations about her are fair, but I think there is little doubt she was a difficult and even unpleasant person. But what if? What if something in her past was different. What if Mrs. Travers had joined a Northstar Group early on in her life. We know she didn’t, but if we use a little Mary Poppins imagination, and imagine for a second as the narrator says softly: “Winds in the east, mist coming in. Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.”

So what if Mrs. Travers had joined a Northstar Group? She could have because there is a group for everybody. There is a group that is right for her. She would have found others in the same place, the same season of life – and share, learn and have fun together. She may have been a little surly and withdrawn initially, but over time she would have discovered that studying in community allows Christians to ask questions, learn, and grow together. Christianity is not a religion of isolation. Jesus taught his followers to create a community of believers, and this Christian community keeps each member connected and accountable.

She would be part of a group that sincerely cared for one another and spoke of real-life issues, concerns and the challenges they faced. She would have a group of people who were real and transparent. She would have a group to support and encourage and pray for her. She would find love, caring, and compassion. The group could be her source of development and provide her with a real sense of belonging. She would have friends that would listen as she talked about her fears, her relationships, her past, and how much margin she has in her life. And more importantly they could talk about their walk with God.  I wonder if she ever had that kind of honest and straight forward conversation with other people. I believe Small Groups have the ability to change lives. The cumulative spiritual effect of being in a group cannot be measured. 

If you are not a member of a Northstar Group, you are missing out. You are probably tired of hearing me say that, but I believe it with all my heart. Acts 2:37-47 provides a biblical account of God’s work and blessing when believers share and serve together.  In Hebrews 10: 23-25, Christians are reminded to assemble together to encourage and receive encouragement. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Groups tend to make things better. Mrs. Travers says in the movie, “I opened the door to Mary Poppins and who should be there but Walt Disney.” What will you find when you open the door to a group? If you have never participated in a group, I encourage you to find a group and get connected. If you need assistance getting connected to a group, or have not found the right group for you, talk to your campus pastor.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why does Northstar do small groups? What in your mind should the groups do? What should they not do?
  2. Do you believe you will understand the Bible better in a small group? Do you believe you will be able to handle stress and pressure better?
  3. Do you believe there is an open chair for you?
  4. Do you believe you could be a small group leader? If not, why not?
  5. What is keeping you from participating in a  group?