Ever since I started working at New Life, something has been puzzling me. I have heard much talk of our “Life Group Elders,” but I had no idea who they were or what their role was. For this reason, since September is “Life Group” month at our church, I determined to search out a Life Group Elder, sit down with them, and learn what they do. My search led me to Shannon Veeneman. As it turned out, her answers to my questions were filled with great wisdom and some of them even surprised me. Here are the highlights from our conversation:

So Shannon, could you give us a brief overview of your life – you and Geoff, and your family?

Well, Geoff and I have been married for 22 years now, and we have 3 grown children. They are aged 17, 18, and 21. I grew up right here in Abbotsford but Geoff comes from Ontario. When Geoff’s family moved here from Ontario, his dad became the pastor at Trinity CRC for a period of time.

What do you do for work?

I am an insurance agent. I have been in this career for 4 years and I do insurance mostly for cars, houses, and boats. Before that, I was a stay at home mom and we also did a lot of cleaning for different businesses. In fact, we still clean here at the church.

Help us understand the heart behind what motivates you?

I am motivated by community. I feel like we are much better and stronger together than separated and isolated. There is something almost mystical about the body of Christ working together. In fact, one of the most important aspects of the body of Christ is the community that we share.

What is the greatest joy in your personal life?

Without doubt my greatest joy is Geoff and my and kids. My kids have grown into people who love the church and they volunteer in many different ministry areas. This is a blessing for which I am most grateful and it brings me great joy. Jobs also give joy. Our family is a hard working family. Working hard brings satisfaction and fulfillment.

What are your greatest struggles, things that make you sad when you see them?

I struggle when I see a problem that doesn’t seem to have a solution. Sometimes, for instance, I look at the homeless situation and it makes me feel so sad inside. When situations seem hopeless I am grieved.

Tell us about your relationship with God, what is it like?

I love coming to church and I am also passionate about prayer. I believe prayer is like a conversation. It is a relationship of talking and listening. We pray – that is the talking part, and then we also incorporate scripture reading – that is the listening part.

From your personal experience, if you could suggest one thing to another person when it comes to the pursuit of God, what would it be?

Learn to be still, clear your mind, and listen. Despite what you might think, you can hear God. Learn to listen, find out what He has to say, and know His heart.

You are a Life group elder here at New Life. What does that mean?

As Life group elders, we are the liaison between the life group leaders and the church. We help with the communication process. For instance, if something comes up beyond what a particular leader can handle, we facilitate the process. These issues could be financial, pastoral, or care related. Each Life group elder cares for a certain number of Life groups and we help with organization and sign-up’s. Apart from that, we are also community builders. From time to time you will see us hosting certain events such as our recent fall kickoff “Welcome Back Tacky Tourist party!”

What is your heart for NL Life groups?

For everybody who desires to be a part of a Life group, my desire would be that they could find a great fit, a really good group to be part of. I don’t believe in forcing people into Life groups but if people have the desire, they should be given every chance to experience this aspect of our community. I believe in organic Life group connections, where people learn and grow together, have each other’s back, care for one another, and invest in each other. This type of connection is what motivates me and it is the backbone of our community of faith.