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Showing posts from April, 2007

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Three Vital Experiences

Gene Getz wrote in his book, Sharpening the Focus of the Church:
Believers need...three vital experiences to grow into mature Christians. They need good Bible teaching that will give them theological and spiritual stability; they need deep and satisfying relationships both with each other and with Jesus Christ; and they need to experience seeing people come to Jesus Christ as a result of corporate and individual witness to the non-Christian world.We sum up these "three vital experiences" with the words:

FORMATIVE

CARING

MISSIONAL

Spring is a great time to talk to your group about these three foundational activities of a LIFEGroup. Discuss how you are presently accomplishing them, and what you might do this summer and fall to better accomplish these vital experiences.

One In Christ

i've never made a secret of the idea that one of my favorite authors is james m. boice. his commentaries are a staple of my Bible study diet, and his Foundations of the Christian Faith is my systematic theology of choice.

so this week, i've been reading his writings on the church and as always, the highlighter is going crazy. but a couple things he said, worked in with the justice and mercy thoughts that are marinating on my back burner. so i thought i'd share those here:

The church must actually develop brotherhood, a sense of family oneness, among those to whom the gospel spreads. Many barriers to such a union existed in the early church. There were barriers of race - the Greek despising the Roman, the Roman contemptuous of the Greek. There were barriers of nationhood - most captive people chafing under the yoke of Rome. There were barriers of sex, language, and culture - the same barriers that exist among people today. But they were broken down as those who were…

A Small Group Leader Job Description

I'm reading a book right now entitled Why Small Groups? It's a good read from a lot of sound theological thinkers.

Chapter four is about small group leaders, the author (Mark Mullery) uses a statement created for his church's small group ministry. He says that:

"small group leaders are in place...
to extend the pastoral ministry of our church...by providing a context...in which to apply God's Word...so that growth, care, and relationships may occur."I don't think that's a bad statement of the role of a small group leader!

LIFEGroup Reflections

This week we did something different in our LIFEGroup. We participated in one of the breakout sessions for the Justice and Mercy series. In the session we watched a video that described how the idea of different races has been used in America to justify the acquisition of land, wealth, and power by whites. There is only one race, the human race. One of the things we learned in the breakout session is that there is often more genetic difference between people of the same ethnic group than between people of different ethnic groups. As some of the literature we read stated, the difference is really only skin deep.As we began the discussion on racism it was evident that there was tension in the room. First, no one wants to be thought of as a racist. Second, so many of us have had such little experience with minority cultures, when we open our mouths we are bound to show our ignorance. So here we are, a group of white people, trying to acknowledge the evils of racism while at the same time…

Another Resource

Xenos is a church in Columbus, Ohio that is built on the principle of "house churches". If you are interested (and have some time) you can browse their website for a lot of high quality resources tied to small groups. They have sermons, Bible studies, mp3s, etc...

You might not agree with everything you find, but you'll find a lot that will help you!

check it out here.

Sharing the Leadership Burden

Jim Semradek, a small group leader at a church in Chicago writes:
I recently met a small group leader that said, "No one wants to lead...no one wants to host...it all falls on my shoulders and no one will step up!"Have you ever felt that way?I used to constantly struggle with this problem…until something changed…and to be honest, I have never had this problem since.I learned just two important principles:From the very beginning of the group...help them discover their spiritual gifts... and have them exercise those gifts within the group every week!If you have never taken a spiritual gift test, then now is your time to begin.[you can get spiritual gift tests in the cove]Then after the class, have each member tell the group their top 2 or three spiritual gifts and encourage each to lead within their gifting every week!If the person is a mercy or intercession, have them “lead” the prayer requests.If the person has a gift of helps or hospitality, have them “lead” foods and snac…

Help Us Help You!

As a part of our continuing effort to do a better job with spiritual formation at Calvary, I (david) have been using some informal surveys to identify how people are connected and how communication flows here. You can help by:
a) taking the surveys as they are offered.
b) encouraging your LIFEGroup members to take the surveys.
c) emailing the survey link to those in your group and others you know who may not be connected.The most recent survey is available at the church website (calvarymuskegon.com), just click on the link that says "survey".

or click here.

Justice and Mercy

Don't forget that the Justice and Mercy series starts this Sunday! If your group hasn't confirmed your plans with Jacquie, please take the time to call her this week.

Find out more about Justice and Mercy here.

If you want a head start on this week's sermon, read through the book of Amos. Ask yourself these questions:

1) Why was God so upset with Israel?
2) What did God want Israel to do?
3) What type of behavior could keep God from being pleased with our worship?

and after you read, ask yourself this question:

What would it take for Calvary to be a church West Michigan thanked God for?

LIFEGroup Reflections

I read an article over this past week that said the number one reason people come to a church is because of the pastor. The article also said that the number one reason people stay at a church is because of the friends they make. If people don’t get connected to other people they don’t tend to stay in a church. But when people do make those connections they tend to stay around for a good long time. Church loyalty is getting less and less common. More and more people change churches regularly than ever before. People are very mobile. People are moving and changing jobs at a faster rate then ever before. And even when people do settle in a neighborhood, there are so many choices, especially in West Michigan. It’s hard to picture exactly how community works in such a mobile society. A communal life is one that is shared with others. Through out most of history a person’s community was dictated by their geography. If you were born a lowly serf in a feudal system, that was your community, …

What's in a Name

If you’re reading this you are probably a LIFEGroup driver. If you are a LIFEGroup driver you probably know all about the three relationships in every LIFEGroup. In the next weeks we are going to dig a little deeper into the three relationships. One goal of every LIFEGroup is that every member of the group is being formed into the image of Christ.We call this the formative relationship. When was the last time you formed something? What does it mean to form something? What images come into your mind? The first thing I see in mind is a potter spinning a wheel and transforming a lump of clay into something beautiful.When someone decides to follow Jesus that person receives the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works and begins to form the person. The Spirit begins to sculpt the believer into the image of Jesus. Imagine yourself a lump of clay becoming something beautiful and precious. So how does this happen? If the Spirit is doing the work, then do we just sit back and watch it happen?The work of…

NO WORRIES

From Discipleship Journal
by Dianne Bundt

It can be difficult to concentrate on Bible-study or small-group discussion when your mind is still occupied with the worries of the day. To help members of our small group shift attention from personal concerns to Bible study, we created a worry jar. At the start of each meeting, we pass around slips of paper. On them, we write down whatever is on our minds. Then we fold the slips and place them in a large jar. Tangibly releasing our worries in this way reminds us that we can give our cares to God. It enables us to acknowledge and set aside potential distractions so we can focus on the study. Because we don't share our worries aloud, group members feel free to write even the most personal concerns.

Although our group leaves the slips of paper in the jar and adds to them each week (we plan to burn them at the end of our study), you might wish to discard them after each meeting.

PRAYER LETTERS

from Discipleship Journal
by: Eileen Rife

I recently encountered a crisis that left me too depleted emotionally and physically to attend small group. In my absence, group members encouraged me through personal prayer letters. If someone in your group is going through a difficult time, why not do the same?

During a group meeting, members wrote prayers for me on sheets of stationary. Many of their prayers were from Scripture. For instance, one woman shared a passage that had comforted her during a low time. Another wrote a prayer of faith thanking Jesus for sustaining me and the "prayed" verses relating to perseverance.

The women delivered the prayer letters in person - an added touch that make me feel special. (If you're unable to deliver the letters as a group, mail them or select one or more members to hand deliver them)

Reading the prayer boosted my spirits. And because they were in writing, I could save them to reflect on later. I still put them out occasionally and read t…