Wednesday, February 25, 2015

BUILDING A GROUP THAT LASTS: Focus your small group by making your time together a BLUR


FOCUS YOUR SMALL GROUP BY MAKING YOUR TIME TOGETHER A BLUR


Break Bread
Whether you enjoy an entire meal together or simply have popcorn and drinks, sharing food is a great way to break down barriers and promote openness. Relationships grow exponentially quicker when food is involved.

Learn About Each Other
Before you dive into Bible study or watching a video, take a few minutes to learn one another’s stories. Answering one or two questions each week leads to great discussion and can often become a powerful bonding time that everyone looks forward. Use crowd-breaker questions, or steal cards from a game like Zobmondo or Would You Rather.

Unpack God’s Word
You might watch a video, read a book together, or work your way through a section of the Bible. Whatever you are doing to promote spiritual growth, do it in a way that empowers every group member to participate and own the process. Open-ended discussion questions are usually the best way to get people egaged in the conversation.

Reach Out To Others

God did not save us into a clique. Churches and small groups should not be like luxury cruises where we just enjoy relaxing and being served. Your group should be a rescue boat, trying to save as many as possible from drowning. Ideally, everyone in the group should have friends and neighbors who need Christ and feel comfortable connecting with your group. At the very least, you should be reaching out to others in the church who have yet to be connected.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

There's Nothing Magical About Small Groups

Dr. James Scott says at his blog:

There's nothing magical about small groups!

What?!?! Seriously. Many people believe that small groups are some kind of magic bullet that can cure every ill known to man and the church. They aren't. In fact, I would go a step further and say that there is NOTHING in and of small groups themselves that makes them special. However, small groups with the right perspective can be a different story. Here's what Scott say in the rest of his post:


Simply getting a group of people to meet together regularly doesn't, by itself, transform the church, result in revival, instantly produce mature Christians, or meet the needs of those meeting together. What does make small groups vital parts of the church that impact congregations and communities is the motive of the group participants.

When Christians come together to share life as the body of Christ on earth, as the early Christians we read about in the Book of Acts did, then we see the powerful results of transformed lives and met needs. But that often is not the motive for many small groups.

Lots of groups meet to study the Bible. They greet each other warmly, open with a prayer, have a lively intellectual discussion about a passage of scripture, close with prayer, exchange additional pleasantries, and then go home until their next meeting the following week. They don't "share life."

Other groups have a greater focus on prayer. Still others spend their time discussing what it means to be a "man" or "woman," others focus on leadership topics, and some are more socially oriented. But they don't really share life together.

The missing motive?

Jesus said this in John 13:34-35, "34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

When the children of God come together to share (or unleash) the love of God, the result will be the power of God and the blessing of God displayed in and through the the lives of the lovers of God!

Small groups that impact the lives of participants, the church, communities and the world, are those groups whose primary motive is to share the love of God with each other. Other motives, such as study, prayer, leadership development, team building, etc., are best achieved when this primary motive is in place.


Source: Extraordinary Living by Dr. James Scott

Monday, February 23, 2015

Eleven Reasons Groups Fail

An article by Dennis McCallum points out eleven reasons "home groups" fail. We use the term LIFEGroups, but these eleven "reasons" provide interesting food for thought. We'll talk a little about them this Sunday at our Driver's Summit. Read the whole article by clicking here. Read the main points below:

1. They are often not based on New Testament theory

2. The wrong criteria are sometimes followed for the selection of leaders

3. Frequently, insufficient authority is given to the leaders

4. The groups may have an unhealthy inward-focus

5. There is often no provision for church discipline within the small group

6. All groups may be the same, rather than diversified and matched to their members

7. There may be no adequate equipping offered to would-be leaders

8. The church may set no multiplication goals, and may have no good plan for multiplying home groups

9. Small groups are sometimes viewed as peripheral rather than central to the life of the church

10. They are sometimes viewed as a threat by the pastor(s) of the church.

11. Home groups are often introduced in a programmatic, not a natural way.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quest Discipleship

I wrote this many years ago. Emma is still amazing, but her amazingness exhibits itself in other pursuits these days...

Emma is an amazing girl. In addition to being an all "A" student, she is a competitive gymnast (her team was 10th in the state this year), plays basketball, and excels at two musical instruments. Each spring, we celebrate her musical accomplishments by sitting through her recitals.

Last year, as I sat and listened to the other students, enduring the missed notes, dissonant chords, and choppy timing, I began to think about the nature of a recital. Students practice six months for this one performance, yet the reason their parents have put them into lessons has nothing to do with this recital or the lessons or all that practice. The reason for piano lessons is to learn a lifelong skill that will enrich one's life and the lives around them. Recital's are just a step along the way.

Typically a good teacher will choose recital songs that appear at first glance impossible. The student works through hours of frustration, figuring out new combinations of notes and sometimes awkward timing. Slowly, the piece begins to sound like music. Eventually, practice is more about finger muscle memory as the piece has been mastered and is now being memorized. Finally, the performance comes and all are made aware that the student has mastered a higher level of piano artistry, one that several months ago seemed out of reach.

What if we discipled this way? What if we, in our mentoring relationships, we set out goals that seemed impossible? What if we expected wrong notes and botched timing (failure) as part of the process? What if we celebrated spiritual accomplishments along the way? I think of this as "quest discipleship".

Quest discipleship might look something like this:
  • setting unrealistic goals
  • expecting failures
  • walking alongside, decreasing my input over time
  • celebrating the accomplishment of the goal with ceremonies
If you were to set a "quest" for your group, what might it look like? What goals could you set that seem completely unreachable? How will you celebrate when you reach those goals?

Monday, February 16, 2015

13 Ideas for Better Bible Study

Here is a simple thing to do with your group to encourage more/better Bible study. Pass out the list below, and encourage everyone to choose 5 of the 13 options to try during the week. When you get back together, have people share the ups and downs of trying different ways of doing Bible study.

1. Pray first

2. Re-write the passage in your own words

3. Jot down the first things that come to mind as you read

4. Make a list of questions you have

5. Use commentaries, friends, and the internet to find answers to your questions

6. Consider if the passage brings to mind teachings of Jesus

7. Think about Old Testament stories which may apply or be similar to the passage

8. Identify several key words and meditate on them

9. Use a concordance to find and consider other passages which use the same and similar words

10. Consider every day experiences which illustrate the passage's main idea

11. Write a personal response to the passage

12. Draw a picture illustrating the truth of the passage

13. Set a daily goal based on the teaching of the passage