SHOULDER TO SHOULDER
ENCOURAGE • SUPPORT • STRENGTHEN
“Only [be sure to] lead your lives in a manner [that will be] worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I do come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit [and one purpose], with one amind striving side by side [as if in combat] for the faith of the gospel.”
THE STORIES BEHIND
SHOULDER TO SHOULDER
As a young 6 -year old girl, I remember standing at the stop light waiting to cross the street. I guess I was feeling especially grown up that day, because when my mama reached to take my hand to cross the street, I jerked away. I took my own hand and with great self- confidence said, “I hold my own hand.” I did just that! I took one hand in the other, even swinging it the same as it felt when my mama held my hand. I have fought this independence all of my life.
God did not intend us to do life alone. His plan is that we “live totally dependent on Him and lean on the body of Christ. I am learning to love leaning into those God has put around me for His purposes.
When my Marine son, Josh was heading out for war, he was required to write a final letter just in case he never made it back home. I will forever remember his statement written with great intensity: “Mom I do not fight for my country or my flag. I do not fight for my family or my freedom. I fight for the man on my right and the man on my left.”
Josh had learned the “Shoulder to Shoulder” concept that is absolutely necessary in war. We are in a spiritual battle and the one on my right and on my left matters. Just as a line of soldiers fully armed with their shields held high, together, we form am impenetrable wall.
Many years ago, a friend and I flew to Arizona to hear a Christian music group we were interested in booking for a local women’s conference. Loaded in the musician’s van, we drove across the desert to hear them perform. As we neared the destination, they told us we should know something about where we were going. We were going to Remuda Ranch for Eating Disorders. (www.remudaranch.com) As the women crept into the chapel for the concert, they were an alarming sight. Thin, weak and lifeless they came. They carefully took their seat next to each other, packing as many as possible on each row. I burst into tears when suddenly I realized what was going on. Shoulder tightly overlapping shoulder kept the weak from falling over. When one grew faint, the other pressed her shoulder a little tighter to keep her from slumping over. Truly a beautiful picture of how we are to live life in community with one another.
Will you choose to drop your own hand?
Will you hold up your shield of faith to bring protection for the one on your right and the one on your left?
Will you choose to live up close and press in to a few others for the glory of God?
WHAT IS SHOULDER TO SHOULDER?
An intentional gathering of women for the purpose of standing firm in the faith, side by side and shoulder to shoulder. A place to gather around a meal, coffee/tea and to share meaningful Christ centered conversations. A place to be real; sharing laughter and tears, struggles and victories; encouraging one another in our faith walk. (This is not a Bible Study or a counseling group. This is a place to be real and journey life closely with a few other women.)
WHAT DO I DO AT SHOULDER TO SHOULDER?
Pick a date and time to meet. Invite 3-5 women to share a meal or coffee/tea. Eat, drink, laugh, share, enjoy one another. Each month we will provide 4-6 questions to help guide the conversation. Remember these times are intentional, not just time to talk, talk, talk. The goal is not to answer all the questions, but to know one another better and give all an opportunity to share.
Laughing, Eating, Enjoying
Stirring one another to love and good deeds
Covering each other’s weaknesses with another’s strength
Encouraging one another to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ
Praying together and expectantly watching for God’s answer
When meeting for the first time:
Please read aloud to your group the stories of how Shoulder to Shoulder came about. then share these questions together for a time of getting to know one another. After your first session, join us with the monthly questions to spur your sharing and conversation.
WHEN IS SHOULDER TO SHOULDER?
We encourage you to pick a date and time and invite your guests. We find it best to make this a regular, consistent time so that all can guard this time on their calendars.
WHERE IS SHOULDER TO SHOULDER?
Your group can meet around your table at home, in a restaurant or coffee shop. Don’t let the “perfection” of your home or the “lack of perfection” stop you from inviting women to meet in your home. There is something beautiful about gathering in “our space” to build deep meaningful relationships. But I do suggest that a quiet corner in a restaurant can accomplish the same purpose. Just erase all excuses and gather!
WHO DO I INVITE TO SHOULD TO SHOULDER?
Feel free to invite anyone to your group. Reach beyond your normal group of friends and acquaintances. Ask God to bring names to your mind and put together a group that will honor Him. These groups should look as diverse as a quilt.