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Showing posts from June, 2008

Eight is More Than Enough

I'm interrupting the series on leading discussions to quickly point you to an interesting concept called "Three is Enough." (TiE)

The foundational elements of this concept are quite similar to our "formative, caring, and missional" roots. TiE's three main points of participation are:
Try out new ways of prayingRead and interactServe others in creative waysThe big difference is that a TiE group is a group of three and no more. Some groups could implement TiE principles into their own group meetings. Some groups might want to create mini-groups of three within their LIFEgroup. Some might just use the principle to launch their own TiE group.

You can read more about TiE at their website here.

See the biblical rationale for this method of discipleship here.

thanks to Kim Martinez for the heads up on TiE.

10 Suggestions for Leading Discussions: Creating a Climate of Acceptance

View All Ten Suggestions Here

No good discussion can happen unless the right climate or environment has first been cultivated.Just as a farmer’s job begins long before he puts seeds into the ground, a group leader’s job begins long before the first discussion question is asked. No farmer walks out of his house one morning and just decides to throw some seeds on the ground.He knows if he hasn’t spent sufficient time preparing the ground, the seeds will have little or no chance to grow.Before he ever plants the seeds, the farmer spends time clearing the land, installing irrigation, removing weeds and plants, and cultivating the soil. When preparation is done properly, the seed will have the best possible chance to grow.Giving your group’s discussion the best possible chance to be effective requires the leader to spend time creating an accepting environment.People’s ability to open themselves or close themselves is often dependent on whether or not they feel accepted.Someone who feels …

Ten Suggestions for Leading Discussions: Prepare Good Questions Prior to the Meeting

View all ten suggestions here.

Have you ever been part of a discussion that went absolutely no where? One of the most important tasks a small group leader needs to execute is GOOD PREPARATION. If your group is going to engage in a good discussion, that will ONLY HAPPEN if you are willing to take the time beforehand to prepare good questions.

If you really want to have a good discussion you must do the following three activities:

1) Plan. Set aside ample time for preparation. This time will include prayer, study, contemplation, and writing so 15 minutes before your group meeting is probably not enough. You need to set a time, block it off on your calendar, and honor that commitment to yourself.

2) Pray. There really isn't any reason to do anything if you aren't relying on God to make it successful; so if you really want to give your discussion the best shot, pray.

3) Prepare. You've set aside time and you've prayed it up, so now you are ready to prepare. I would recomm…

Community Killers Part Four: Complaining

Nothing can tear a group apart faster or more effectively than a spirit of complaining.For some reason, complaints seem to breed faster than rabbits.Once one person’s complaining goes unchecked, it won’t be long until others have joined in and eventually the entire group is sucked into a hopeless vortex of swirling complaints.Often these complaints have little to do with the group, but they have the potential to sideswipe and destroy a group meeting, or if left unchecked, an entire group.Complaints may cover a variety of subjects.Group members might complain about their job, their day, their neighbor, their spouse, or even the church.The role of the leader is to deal with these complaints in a way which is formative for the person, instructive for the group, and glorifying to God.Because a LIFEgroup should be a place where people share their struggles and receive support and prayer, it can sometimes be difficult to know when someone is sharing a difficulty or complaining.Here are some…

LIFEgroup Weekly

Click below for this week's LIFEgroup Weekly. This edition includes help for dealing with conflict in your group as well as discussion questions based on this week's HUMILITY sermon.

Preparing to Worship

Here's an interesting list you can share with your LIFEgroup to help them prepare for Sunday morning's Celebration Gathering!

10. Do I have my Bible?

9. Do I have my family in the car with me? (this may not apply to everyone)

8. Am I dressed? (this does apply to everyone)

7. Does my family have their Bibles with them?

6. Have we prayed before leaving the house?

5. Have I considered the lesson and Bible class from last week?

4. Who did I not talk to last week who I will this week?

3. Have I prepared my soul for worship this morning?

2. Are my children ready to sing on the way to the building?

1. Will my attitude while driving to services reflect the love of Christ we will talk about in service?

courtesy of: The Preacher's Pen

Community Killers: Conflict

Sometimes people don’t get along. Sometimes disagreements between people can tear a group apart if not handled well. That is not to say conflict should be avoided. One of the greatest "killers" of positive group life is an avoidance of conflict. While conflict should never be fun, it is a necessary aspect of living in a fallen world. We are different people with differing ideologies (because we don't always grab on to the "mind of Christ"), and so we must learn to communicate about those differences in healthy ways.

Patrick Lencioni’s book Five Dysfunctions of a Team has an excellent chapter on how to engage in healthy conflict. Below are some of his ideas, altered a bit to fit the small group context.

KEY IDEAS REGARDING HEALTHY CONFLICT:Good conflict between people requires trust, which is all about engaging in unfiltered, passionate discussion around issues.Even in the best relationships, conflict will at times be uncomfortable.Rules for conflic…

The Discipline of Sharing Life

This list is modified from The Checklist for Life. Here are some simple guidelines for allowing others to build into your life to form you into the image of Christ who is the perfect representation of the Father:
Listen for God's direction in the encouraging words of a friend.Trust that God can use my friends to help me grow.Understand that a good friend is a gift from God.Listen to a friend's words as intently as I would want my friend to listen to me.Know that a friend's words are usually spoken out of concern.Learn to embrace a friend's words.Attempt to encourage my friends as often as possible.Simple Actions:Pray for wisdom to know how to encourage othersWrite a thank you note today to one friend who has encouraged youBe prepared to offer a few words of encouragement to a friendInvite a friend to consult you on an upcoming decisionCall a friend to say how much you appreciate his or her friendshipRead about David and Jonathan's friendship in 1 Samuel, chapters 1…

Community Killers: Crisis

Here is Part Two in my series on dealing with "Community Killers". Today the topic is "Crisis".

Every group experiences crisis at some point. Death, illness, divorce, and financial ruin are just some of the issues that can threaten to destroy a group. These crisis, however, are not to be feared. Rather, they should be embraced as an opportunity for the group to care for one another in unique and deeply meaningful ways. The following are five suggestions (certainly not an exhaustive list) which can help a group handle crisis successfully:

Openness. The first step in a group’s efforts to deal with crisis is simply knowing about and understanding the crisis. If a member does not feel comfortable sharing the crisis issues in their life, the group cannot come to their aid. A willingness to share not only the crisis situation, but also the details can significantly impact the degree to which the group can offer assistance.

The role of the leader sometimes requires a person…

Humility: It's Not All About You

Without naming names, when have you observed a
person who seems to be only interested in “moving up
the ladder”? What are some of the character traits of a
person like this?
• Read Genesis 11:1-9.
• Generally speaking, who were these people focusing
on, themselves or God? Why was this a problem?

John Calvin thought that verse 6 was God ironically saying, “Thispeople have conspired against me, and since they can speak toone another in the same language, how can their plan be defeated?”In other words, God wasn’t concerned, he found it humorousthat the people thought so highly of themselves.
• Read verse 4. What do you think it means that they
wanted to “make a name” for themselves?
• What things do we (you) often do try to make a name
for ourselves? Why is it important to us that people
think highly of us?
• Read Romans 12:3. What do you think it means to
think of yourself with “sober judgment”? Why are we
sometimes slow to “judge” ourselves? How can we
judge ourselves in a healthy way?
• How does our d…

Birthing New Groups

We'll be talking more to some of you about birthing new groups soon. For now, check out this article by Eric Metcalf from

First love often seems perfect in our minds—the season, the romance, the memories. For many people, their first small-group experience also seems perfect. They wonder, "How could any group be as good as this one?" That's why birthing a new small group can be a scary proposition.For those of you who have had a child, your first birthing experience is vividly etched in your minds—crazy, scary, beautiful, awesome, or whatever mix of emotions was strongest for you. What's more, that first birthing experience colored or influenced your feelings about your second child's birth. In the same way, your first small-group "birthing" experience, good or bad, has a lot of psychological power to influence later births with fear or excitement. So birthing your group in the right way will produce a positive legacy.Let'…

Community Killers: Part One (Commitment)

This is episode One of a short series regarding group dynamics which I'm working on for our church LIFEGroups. I'll post each segment as I finish writing them. The four complications are:
Commitment (or lack thereof)

Nothing will hamper a group’s efforts to grow like a lack of commitment from group members. While it will always be true that different group members will exhibit different levels of commitment to the group, a potentially harmful experience can develop if one or more group members demonstrate a significant lack of commitment to the group. This lack of commitment might exhibit itself in at least three different ways: attendance patterns, participation habits, and relational development.

Attendance. In the best possible world, every group member would be present every time the group gathers. In the real world, attendance patterns can range from the always present to the nearly always absent. For those who are not de…

The Last 10%

Here's a great post about small group leadership from Carter Moss.

We have a saying around here that we use when referring to the really important parts of a conversation with someone that can be tempting to leave off--we call it "the last 10%." It's that last 10% of things that you really needed to leave someone with, that maybe you stopped short of doing.

So as I was putting together our Turbo Group Training Manual for small group leaders, I asked myself, "What is the last 10% of the conversation about small group leadership, that we haven't covered yet?" So I always make sure I end my Turbo Groups with these thoughts. (Click on Turbo Curriculum on the left-side of this blog to download your FULL FREE COPY of this resource!)

These keys are my last 10% when it comes to leading small groups:

•Don't go it alone
Team ministry can be more effective and way more fun. Always start your groups with an apprentice, and remember that apprentices are not just for…