Origin of Altum Cards

“I don’t think this is worth our time,” I said to my wife Sarah in the car after another underwhelming meeting with our church small group. 

I felt guilty saying it, but I had hustled home from work, we ate a hurried early dinner, carted the kids across town and barely made it to group on time. After the group had convened, we had a few laughs and a very shallow conversation. This was a normal meeting for our weekly group. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at the time, but Sarah and I felt the pull to get deeper in these friendships to grow personally and spiritually. And it just wasn’t happening. The group was one of our biggest commitments outside work, and our biggest social commitment by a longshot. We gave it a few more months, and after several years in the same group, we ended up quitting.

On the postmortem of our small group experience, Sarah and I asked each other how could we have done it better. What could we have done to improve the group experience -- to forge stronger bonds with other Christ-followers? Much of it rested with us. Intentionality was critical. And we knew we needed to be purposeful to build stronger friendships. Nice to say in theory, but what about specific tactics? We landed on asking great questions. 

Over the course of the next few months we started peppering each other with questions we thought were good. We had each joined a new group and went to those meetings armed with a couple of deep questions in mind. It started working. Conversations were better and we were getting to know group members on a deeper level. The flip side of asking questions was good listening. We felt like this tandem was starting to be effective. 

Then it dawned on us that we were not the only ones with this problem. How could we help others improve their friendships and group experiences? A question card deck felt like a good fit for this kind of goal. We liked that it was offline and knew that having something on our phone was inviting distraction. Question card decks already existed, but we didn’t find any that we loved that were also gospel-centered. We hoped that ours could fill that gap and benefit a church small group or strengthen friendships between Christ-followers. Something that would get people discussing topics more than the weather and frustrations at work. It was about then that we decided to jump in on Altum Cards.

Altum Cards are the result of all that frustration, brainstorming and development. People who have used the cards have given really great feedback and reports of deeper conversations. One key observation we’ve had, though, is it all starts with the individual and group mentalities. Being willing to listen first, ask follow up questions and allow yourself to be vulnerable are crucial.

I don’t want it to seem like Altum Cards will cause every small group to be all rainbows and unicorns. Growing relationships is still hard work and these cards won’t be a panacea to all the relationship woes.  But we hope and believe that Altum Cards can be the spark to start a great conversation and build a better, Jesus-centered community.