The Year of Small Things is at its essence a church story. The Arthurs and the Wasingers, who committed to a year of small things, don’t operate independent of Sycamore Creek Church. Our prayers and other spiritual disciplines don’t replace worshiping with our people in Lansing and Potterville. So, you can imagine the energy fueling our five-week series.
Fun part: the energy didn’t come from having me and Sarah preach each message. (We didn’t.) Our fellow Sycamore Creek-ers love us, but they are not impressed by us. They’ve seen us trip over a minuscule patch of ice in the parking lot. Spill our coffee. They’ve heard us sing off-key. We have zero celebrity cred.
The energy fueling the series came from a group of people — small groups of people — who are together reading the book and meeting to talk about the small things they’d like to see in their own lives. Imaginations are quicker to spark when discussions are happening in community.
The book makes a great study or series because of its community-oriented nature. So — interested in plugging in a sermon series? Here are the nuts and bolts: The Year of Small Things series is a five-week study of the themes of the book by the same name (we chose covenantal friendship, hospitality, vows, kid monasticism, and self-care). Because our churches are wonderfully diverse (and most don’t know what new monasticism is), we centered our sermons around Hebrews 13, which touches on just about every theme.
One of the crucial components of The Year of Small Things is starting your own year of small things with other people. In the book we use the phrase “covenantal friendship” to describe the kind of relationship where you and another person (or a couple people) promise to hold each other accountable to certain practices.
Hoping to get out of debt? Your covenantal friend’s going to ask you how that’s going.
Struggling to discern what hospitality looks like in your life? Your covenantal friend is going to pray about that with you and offer some ideas. Then he’s going to circle back in a month and ask again. And again.
Get the idea? A Year of Small Things is more doable when you’re not a lone ranger.
A great way to kick-start a conversation that can lead to a covenantal friendship is a book discussion group.
Don’t overthink this — this can be as organize as a small group (a life group) through your church or as casual as talking about the book on your couch with your best friend. Whatever your discussion group looks like, here are four ways to get the most out of your time together:
Listen more than you speak. Take a note from us – if someone’s venting about how hard it is to get out of debt, don’t interrupt with seven ways they could boost their income or that story you love to tell about the time you went debt-free. That’s an awesome story, but save it for later. Practice the art of listening: respond with a suggestion, a gentle correction, or a word of encouragement as the Spirit compels you, but be slow to interrupt. Active listening wins points, too: sum up what your friend’s said before continuing on so they know you’re understanding their intentions (or they can clarify when you’re a bit off).
When you’re thinking about your small things, remember to keep it small. For instance, don’t make the mistake in the Just Living chapter of making your goal to end world hunger. I hear you, but I’m wondering if it’s instead a better idea to give a grocery store gift card to that family you know who is struggling?
Go back and read the full stories in the bible that we reference. Scripture’s a powerful way to keep the focus on what God’s doing through and saying to you, and not on how impossible your small things might seem.
Go slow. The book covers a year. Reading the book quickly and expecting to start a bunch of new habits and practices isn’t going to be sustainable. Instead, read it all at once if you want, but pace yourself for starting new projects or goals. A calendar can help; so can returning to your book club throughout a year to check in.
And hey, if you’re encouraged by the book, would you kindly leave a review about it on Goodreads or Amazon? We appreciate you sharing the love.
Welcome to the world, The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us!
Sarah Arthur and Erin F. Wasinger are proud to announce that The Year of Small Things (Brazos Press) is in stores/ online today! The bundle of new monastic, love-your-neighbor, follow-Jesus-right-where-you-are joy could be in your hands now.
Friends, we present you today with 5 small things you won’t want to miss sharing, reading, listening to, or participating in before The Year of Small Things‘s launch day (in two weeks!!).
The feeling of “is this really happening” met its apex last week when at our weekly dinner with the Arthurs, YoST marketing guru and our project editor surprised us with dessert and copies of The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us. The! Real! Book! Soon you’ll have your own in hand … Ah, that new-book smell.
OK, small talk over. Let’s get to those 5 things:
Dudes, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s on the NEW Small Things podcast! Sarah and I interviewed him about his upcoming visit to our home church, Sycamore Creek Church, in Lansing, Mich. Listen to a preview of what he’ll be sharing with our church and guests at the link above or in the player to the right —>
Plan on joining Sycamore Creek in a workshop on this new monasticism thing, community, and hospitality! The basics: Sunday, Jan. 29, 9:30 and 11 AM worship service with Sarah & special guest Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Then, 12:30 — Lunch and Jonathan’s workshop. Be there! (More details here.)
Join the discussion about the Year of Small Things with our Facebook group. Fill that puppy with questions, conversation starters, your #yearofsmallthings photos and more. Sarah and I frequent the page and we love to interact with our readers.
We’re just beginning to get requests for book signings and author events. We’re keeping you in the know on our calendar here(and below). To request us to speak, visit, smile-and-be-friendly, talk, etc., fill out this Year of Small Things Speaker Request form.
Have you pre-ordered your copy (and asked friends to)? All our pre-ordering folks get a special gift from our team: a Small Things companion calendar. Details here.
Small things — 12 small but radical faith practices — are much more likely to grab my imagination than big stuff at this stage, amiright?
But I lose my mind when files take too long to download.
Here’s the problem: discernment, community-building, and growing ever closer to Jesus take time. Like a lifetime.
So — here’s one of my favorite phrases: incremental progress.
One of my (Erin’s) favorite things to do is witness with my own eyes incremental progress over time in my Instagram feed (Erin: @SomeWonderland & Sarah: @HolyDreaming). Last year my youngest was a chubby 3-year-old; my third-grader was missing her top teeth. We forget how far we’ve come when we only look at where we are now. And that’s just physical growth: if I scroll back to 2014, I sense my own anxiety over things I now see God’s hand in. Whoa.
I’m telling you, social media can be deep.
So. Join me in documenting incremental progress. Take our Small Things photo challenge.
We invite you, advance readers and fans, to join other Year of Small Things fans in posting pics on Instagram/ Twitter/ Facebook (using the hashtag #yearofsmallthings) as you reflect or are inspired by the book.
Use your own ideas of stuff to snap a photo of, or simply follow some prompts we’ve suggested below. (Post as often as you’d like — no pressure. Only fun.) We’ll feature some #yearofsmallthings photos on here as we’re underway!
Send these graphics whirling around the Twittersphere, bloggosphere, Facebookland, or wherever else you cool cats are hanging out nowadays. Heck, print one and tack it on your fridge. Or your church’s fridge. We have faith your creativity will guide you.
We appreciate your help spreading some of our words. May they spark conversations and imaginations in others as we start to think about our 2017s.
To use: Click the image you want to share — a new page will open with just the image you chose. Right-click and save. Share. Repeat!
Remember to use the hashtag #yearofsmallthings wherever you’re posting!
The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us — releasing Jan. 31, 2017 — is almost here! Want the book in your hand or on your Kindle when it releases? Preorder your copy from a favorite retailer and The Year of Small Things will be yours on the same day it’s released into the wild.
Preorders also make great Christmas gifts — and to give someone something to unwrap on Christmas morning, we’re offering an incentive.
BONUS: Those who already have or will preorder our book receive in January a free download for a printable, artistic-quality calendar! Simply fill out the form with your purchase information below.
Consider the calendar our invitation for you to embark on your own Year of Small Things in 2017!
(At right is a “conceptual preview,” meaning the image and typography might be slightly different.)
Watch our book trailer above to hear more about the authors’ year of small things — and start imagining what God might have in mind for your small things!
Where did the idea for The Year of Small Things come from?
As Sarah tells in more detail in The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us, when she and Tom transitioned from a “new monastic” community in the inner city (a Christian household that included homeless guests) to a suburban parsonage, they struggled to translate their former “radical” practices into their new not-so-radical setting.
I (Sarah) pitched an idea to our two families: what if we all took some of the “radical” Christian practices touted by folks like Shane Claiborne and his community The Simple Way and spent a year growing into them? Can downward mobility for Jesus actually happen with debt and diapers and dishes–in suburbia?