Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SOAPY Bible Study

In the past, I've written about and talked about the SOAP method of Bible study. This is a simple Bible study method which can be utilized by an individual or a small group. All you need is a passage of Scripture and 15-30 minutes (a journal is helpful).

Many churches use this method of Bible study for their groups. Some have modified the SOAP method by adding a Y. Read more about it below:

SOAPY Bible Study - Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer, Yielding

This Bible study is an intentional focused effort of growing in the understanding of the scriptures. This form of study will assist in the transformation of our inner lives as we mature in understanding and in faith.

Set aside 15 minutes every day for the study. You might want to take more time after you have gotten started. Don’t overload yourself in the beginning. Keep a “soapy” journal because there will be the need to write everyday. As you develop your routine, share what you are learning with your Discipleship Group, Sunday school class, Circle, other groups in which you participate, or with friends in conversation.

S – SCRIPTURE: Read the scripture passage aloud so you can hear it. Second, write every word of the scripture in your journal. Both reading it aloud and writing it will help put the scripture in your mind and heart.

O – OBSERVATION: Ask yourself the question, “What is God teaching me in this scripture?” As you ask yourself the question, your mind will be full of thoughts. Write those thoughts down. You will know what is being communicated as you reflect upon what you have written.

A – APPLICATION: Ask yourself the question, “How does this scripture apply to my life?” As you reflect upon the question, look for promises to claim, attitudes to change, challenges to accept, sins to confess, commands to obey, actions to take, examples to follow, or skills to learn. Write in your journal how the scripture applies to you and to your life situations.

P – PRAYER: Write a prayer to God. Depending on what you have read and written the prayer might be one of praise and thanksgiving, a prayer asking God to help you apply the teaching to your life, or a prayer of confession. This is your prayer to God. The discipline of writing your prayer will lead to transformation.

Y – YIELDING: As you complete your “SOAPY” Bible study, ask yourself the question, “What of my life must I yield to God?” This is the question that leads to obedience. Everyday, through Bible study, you will have the opportunity to yield a little more of your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The prayer I use each day that leads to yielding is, “Lord, by your grace grant me the obedience to yield another part of my life to you today.”

Monday, December 8, 2014

Why Kim Kardashian Will Never Be Good at Groups

The truth is, I know nothing about Kim Kardashian. I’ve never met her, I’ve not spent too much time reading about her and I certainly know nothing about her church-going habits. However, based on the public persona Kim Kardashian promotes, I think it’s safe to say she probably wouldn’t be a solid recruit for your small group.

For what it’s worth, this post isn’t really about Kim Kardashian. In fact, I hope someday Kim Kardashian can be a model small group member. This post is really about three necessary elements of successful small groups:

Kim Kardashian is a bad model for small group members

Kim Kardashian is not good at caring for others

If we are to believe the media's stories, Kim Kardashian has a selfish streak. Self-centeredness and successful groups do not go hand in hand.

Caring for one another is at the core of small group relationships. Everyone in your group has been given resources by God and He expects them to use those resources for the good of one another and for the good of the group. Some people have the gift of compassion, some have the gift of prayer, some have the gift of teaching and others have the gift of administration. All these gifts (and many others) can be used to build the group. Groups are successful when everyone in the group cares for one another.

Kim Kardashian doesn’t understand authenticity

No one is perfect. Not even Kim Kardashian
No one is perfect. Not even Kim Kardashian.

Being honest about yourself is critical for the growth of your group. This doesn’t mean that everyone in the group needs to share their deepest and darkest secrets. It does mean that sometimes it’s okay to be vulnerable, to ask for help or to share about your struggles.

One of the Biblical commands for the church is to “bear one another’s burdens.” No one can help you carry your burden if you aren’t willing to share your burden.

The church doesn’t need any more Instagram Christians who only post pictures which make their life seem fabulous.

Your life is not always fabulous. Your group knows this. Your group should be a place where you can admit you don’t have it together, and where together you can all carry one another’s loads.

Kim Kardashian makes everything public

Small groups are just like Las Vegas in one way: What happens in your group, stays in your group.
Never, ever, ever make public what someone else has shared in private. Nothing destroys a group more quickly than a loss of trust. Nothing compromises trust more completely than loose lips.

If you can't keep a secret; you can't keep a group together.

A More Positive Perspective: 3 Elements of a Successful Group

Let’s stop worrying about Kim Kardashian. She may be in a small group after all, and she may be a great member of that group. Instead, let’s close with 3 elements that will absolutely make your group successful:
  1. Take Care of One Another.
  2. Be Honest With One Another.
  3. Keep the Secrets of One Another.
If these three principles are at the heart of your group’s activities, you’ll be just fine!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Primer on Community

COMMUNITY is the life blood of a church and must be the primary reason for launching small groups. Here are some starter thoughts on Biblical Community.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

5 Ways Facebook Can Improve Your Small Group

Talking badly about Facebook, and piously lamenting about what a time-waster it can be is pretty easy. I know if I'm not careful social media can be a big time-waster for me

However, that doesn't mean everything about Facebook is evil.

In fact, we should probably recognize that half the world is on Facebook; and probably far more than half our church is on Facebook. So instead of condemning Facebook, let's try to think about how it can be beneficial.

A while back I put together a PRIVATE (that's important) Facebook group for my small group. I invited/added all the members of our group (including those who aren't quite as faithful with their attendance), and then I simply sat back and watched to see how we used it.

The following list is based mostly on the things for which I've seen our group use Facebook. A few of the items I've added as my own ideas. Here are FIVE WAYS FACEBOOK CAN IMPROVE YOUR SMALL GROUP:
  • Remind people of upcoming events. We're having a party this Sunday and the host has used Facebook to give directions and remind people what they should bring.
  • Coordinate missional activities. Every month we serve together at a soup kitchen. We use Facebook to let each other know who will be there and who will be missing.
  • Share prayer requests. Since the group is private, people feel free to share things with each other that they might not share with all their Facebook friends. Facebook's structure allows people to respond and encourage.
  • Encourage one another. Sometimes things are shared when we're together that require some "follow-up encouragement." Facebook is a great venue for that.
  • Sharing teaching material. If I want to, I can send out each week's discussion questions ahead of time so the group can be thinking through the material before we ever come together.

Undoubtedly, we'll continue to see more and more venues for social networking in our lifetime. For now, though, Facebook is king. So tame the beast and use it to your benefit. If successful, you'll grow your community!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Developing a Balanced Focus in Your Group

I have always been a strong advocate for balanced groups. I believe groups are best aligned for growth when the members of the group share a formative, caring, and missional focus. The following ideas might make it easier to begin developing that kind of shared focus.

1. Build authentic relationships. Caring for one another and forming one another will happen much more effectively if everyone in your group feels comfortable with one another. Spend time every time you’re together asking and answering questions about each other. Good questions can often launch your group into fruitful inter-personal discussion. Consider using the following questions with each other over a several week period:

· Who are your heroes?

· What are your strengths?

· What unique skills do you have?

· What are your most important beliefs?

· What things do you value?

· What is the mission of your life?

· What things always keep your interest?

· What do you dream about doing?

· What are the key events of your life?

· What is something we need to know about you?

Modify the questions for your group, or use completely different ones. The key is to spend time getting to know one another a little bit better.

2. Set aside time for "Gift Discovery". Allow time on a regular basis to talk about the gifts and talents you see in each other. Discuss how each person might be able to use their gifts to serve in the church as well as to serve those in the world around them. Encourage each person to commit themselves to serving, and hold one another accountable for the commitments made. A healthy group will also use this opportunity to help people realize when they are over-committed or perhaps serving in a venue they are not gifted for.

3. Encourage application. When you study the Bible, take time to talk about how the truths will practically impact people's lives. Allow each person the opportunity to discuss the things in their life they need to change. Take time as a group to follow up on commitments made.

4. Talk about being missional. Schedule time when your group can get together to do something which will show Christ's love to your community. Take time to call Rescue Missions, Habitat for Humanity, thrift stores, or local schools to discover opportunities and schedule a time for your group. If you can’t set a time when you can serve together, take a week off from your meeting and use that time to get out and show Jesus’ love.