Small Group Interview #3

Tom Rochester, Ali Moss & Joe Cowling

Continuing our series of interviews with small group leaders from Oasis, this time we hear from Tom, Ali and Joe, who lead a group that meets in Harborne on Sunday Nights. For more information on small groups, or to connect in to one, chat to Mike Blaber on a Sunday, or email and we’ll link you up.

What are three things we might not know about each of you?
A few facts, hmm… I’m finishing a PhD in Medieval History, studying miracles recorded by the Anglo-Saxon monk Bede and his contemporaries — should be submitted in May. I’m a geek at heart: I play Magic the Gathering card game (and other niche boardgames), big fan of Skyrim, Star Wars/Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Geocaching. Basically I’m a cross between Leonard and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, but without the Physics Degrees! I’m a Scout activity instructor specialising in stilt-walking.
I’ve travelled the far reaches of England in order to get to Birmingham and become a PE teacher. Starting in my home city of Lincoln I went to Teesside for my undergrad and then to Norwich for my PGCE.
JC: I am originally from Somerset, I am studying medicine at Birmingham and have lived here for 6 years now.

(l-r) Ali Moss, Tom Rochester & Joe Cowling

How did each you come to be part of Oasis, and what made you stick?
I first joined Oasis at the start of October 2013 when I moved to Birmingham to start my PhD. It was one of a couple of churches I’d researched before coming here and liked the look of it. I think what really encouraged me to stay was how friendly and welcoming everyone was, and how honest and transparent the church seemed to be. Oasis is a church where we share our problems and support eachother, and that’s really attractive. Its a lively and loud church, which is fairly different to my home church experience, but I know that all of that is rooted in a strong love of God (and love of other people!).
AM: I visited a few churches around Birmingham but pretty early on I knew that Oasis had pocketed me. I think the ‘stick factor’ for me was the welcome and how quickly I was being connected with people around me and feeling early on as being part of the community of the church.
JC: Oasis is the first and only church I’ve been part of having becoming a Christian during university. I had friends going to Oasis and that’s what first took me there. I loved the simple aim of Oasis to love God and love people and I thought the church was welcoming and transparent which kept me coming back for more!

How long have you led a small group?
TR: I’ve been leading a smallgroup since September 2015, first with Tom Matthewman in Selly Oak, and now from September 2016 with Ali and Joe in Harborne.
I’ve been leading a small group for the last 6 months alongside Joe and Tom. As a three it’s given us great accountability in what we do but also it’s nice to know that whatever the circumstance small group is always likely to be on, which is great for the whole group.
JC: This is the first time I’ve helped lead a small group and it’s been fantastic to be a part of (so for about 6 months now).

Why do you value small group?
TR: I value homegroup because of the real sense of trust and community that we develop meeting regularly together. Over the course of several weeks and months you really see individuals grow in their knowledge and love of God, as well as seeing God answer prayers in response to ongoing situations. I also like the informal nature of it — meeting in the lounge with hot drinks and biscuits/cake — its an environment where everyone can feel welcome and safe to contribute or ask questions. Even though we only meet for an hour and a half its a really valuable time.
AM: I value small group due to what it has done for me in the past and what it is doing to me in the present. Without the interactions of friends in small groups over the past few years I would for certain not be where I am or who I am today! They are vital for friendship. Growing a friendship with God and his people can only be a good thing.
JC: I really value the opportunity to spend time looking closely at the Bible and having the time to discuss what we read and share are thoughts and opinions on it. It provides a chance to ask each other questions about things we may be trying to get our heads around!