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Showing posts from November, 2010

Discipleship + Renewal = LIFEgroup!

I came across this blog post today. I wanted to share it because I think it really captures my heart for some of the needs LIFEgroups can fill. Think about whether or not this is descriptive of your group.

Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”[Later]The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
~Mark 6:7-11 & 30-31 (NIV)In this passage Jesus sent the 12 (his …

Eight Marks of a Christian Community

If you asked me what are the evidences of a true Christian Community. I might point to some things like these:

* Members who are committed to a life of obedience to God through faith in His Son
* Seeking to better understand God’s nature and enact his character as a group
* Having the confidence to ask for prayer from one another
* Sharing personal needs and struggles with each other and seeking as a group to meet those needs and alleviate those struggles
* Exhorting one another to live the lifestyle of a Christ follower rather than the lifestyle of the world
* Fulfilling the Great Commission by bearing witness to the Kingdom, confessing the Gospel, and making new disciples
* Finding ways to “love our neighbors” by meeting the needs of those in West Michigan and around the world

How is your group doing in these areas? What can you do to improve?

Arrival of the Kingdom: Revelation 4

What is the most amazing sight in nature you've ever observed? What made it so amazing?

Have you ever been so awe-struck by something that you couldn't find the words to describe it? How would you describe it now?

In Revelation 4, John is given a "sneak peek" at the throne room of God. He struggles to find the words to adequately describe it. Read Revelation 4:1-7 to get a description of John's vision.

What part of this vision jumps out at you?

What questions do you have about this vision?

What do you think is the most important part of this vision?

Look through these verses and count how many times the throne or the person on the throne is mentioned. Even though there is a lot going on in this scene, God is still at the center of it, and He is still the most important thing.

What are some specific things people can do to keep God at the center of their lives even when it seems like a lot of things are going on around them?

In the second half of the chapter, …

13 Books Every Christian Should Read

I was asked recently to recommend some good books for discipleship type reading. I thought I'd throw my answer up here as well, because anyone who is leading a small group should be striving to better themselves spiritually and intellectually.

So, here's 13 books I think every Christian should read. They cover a wide variety of topics with a little added emphasis on the church, because, hey... you can't be a follower of Christ without the church!

1. The Bible. I know, that's a "duh", but you have to start somewhere.

2. Foundations of the Christian Faith by James M. Boice. This as good a theology book as is out there. It's readable, solid, and doesn't need to be ingested at once. You can break it up a little. It also won't be the last time Boice makes this list.

3. The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. Not a Christian author and not a Christian book. But every Christian needs to come to grips with the type of individualism and materialis…

Is Your LIFEgroup Generous?

One of the things I'd like to see in 2011 at Calvary is an increase in GENEROSITY. I'm not thinking about giving in the offering (although that's a part of it) as much as I am thinking about just being generous people in everything we do. A while back, I threw together in my mind a list for evaluating the generosity of a church. Here it is:Are the needs of members met? A generous church does not have members who are homeless, starving, or destitute. (that initially feels like a strong statement, but I'm gonna stick with it)Are the needs of the community met? The manner in which a church stewards its resources (lets be honest, the building is usually a big one), particularly in regards to the external community, says a lot about its generosity level.What's the EQ? - Every church has an "entitlement quotient" that mirrors the generosity level of the congregation. One way to gauge EQ is to measure how often "I", "my", and &…

Letters from the King: LIFEgroup Questions from 1 Peter 2

What is the most unique experience you have every had? What made it so unique?

As a group, read Matthew 5:13-16.

The theme of the three “pictures” used by Jesus seems to be focused on “uniqueness”. A city on a hill and a light in the dark stand out from their surroundings because of their uniqueness.

Give an example of a situation in which it would be good to be unique?

Why and how should Christians be unique? Are there times Christians should not be unique? How can you find the right balance?

As a group, read 1 Peter 2:11,12. The two key instructions of this passage are to “abstain from sinful desires” and to “live among the pagans (the world)”. Unfortunately sometimes Christians don’t quite get these two concepts right. Use the next two questions to talk about examples of Christians getting Peter’s instructions confused.

What is an example of someone who chooses to “abstain” from the world?

What is an example of someone who chooses to “live among” their evil desires?

The key…

No "Favorites" Allowed (James 2)

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school/college? What made him or her your favorite?

Were you ever in a class when the teacher had a favorite? How did you feel about the "teacher's pet?" (or, were you the teacher's pet?)

Read James 2:1-13. Use this passage as your guide while answering the following questions:

Based on what you read in 2:1-4, how would you define favoritism?

Besides rich people, what are some other types of people who might receive preferential treatment? Why would people show favoritism toward these people?

What do you think might cause someone to act this way in a church?

Can you think of times in your life when you've shown this type of favoritism?

What things can you do to avoid showing unjust favoritism?

According to 2:5, what are the benefits of being poor? What do you think these things mean?

Compare this passage to Matthew 5:3. How are they similar?

Does this mean we should favor the poor and dishonor the rich? Why or why not?

A New Idea About Answering Questions

What if we made it our habit as group leaders to begin our answer to every question we're asked with:

"Here's what the Bible says about that..."

I don't mean that this should be done in a smug or snarky way, but in a way that makes it clear that we (particularly in our groups) should approach every issue (particularly those pertaining to discipleship and spirituality) by STARTING with the Bible's teaching on that topic.

Of course, some will read this and say, "But the Bible doesn't speak to ever issue!"

To which I will respond, "The Bible may not answer every question you can ask, but it most certainly addresses any topic topic which may come up!"

This approach to question-answering, problem-solving, strategic-planning, etc. may at first sound better than a visit to Pablo's Tacos on dollar-taco-Tuesday; but after a little reflection, some may not be too happy with this approach. Consider some of the ramification:

1) Our own pers…

Letters from the King: LIFEgroup Questions from James 1

What was the greatest birthday gift you have ever received? What made it so great?

What was the worst birthday gift you have ever received? How did you react when you opened it?

Second to salvation, what is the greatest gift God has ever given you?

Read James 1:16-17 and Matthew 7:7-11. What truths do these passages teach about the gifts of God?

Read Romans 8:28. Is it fair to say that every gift God gives us is a good and beneficial gift? Why or why not?

Read Job 2:1-10. Focus on Job 2:10. What do you think was the point Job was trying to make to his wife?

We very easily accept and praise God for the pleasant gifts He brings into our lives. Sometimes it is a little more difficult to praise and thank Him for the unpleasant gifts He allows into our lives.

Give an example of an unpleasant gift from God that might be beneficial for us.

Read James 1:12-15. Notice that this passage about suffering and temptation directly precede the passage about God's good gifts.

How might it be …

Be a Doer, Not a Hearer! (James 1)

This is a short one. It's really designed for the brave and self-directed group.

Before you begin, take a moment and have each person in the group say an encouraging thing to the person sitting to their left.

Read James 1:19 in unison. Remind the group that these three virtues are central to every group's growth.

Have one person read James 1:22-25. Tell the group you'll be doing an exercise which will give them all the opportunity to be a DOER instead of just a HEARER.

Take turns. Let one person share a personal struggle they are currently having. As a group, ask questions and listen closely to try to gain a full understanding of the struggle.

One at a time, let other group members share specific truth from the Bible (no opinions here, just Biblical insight) that may be applicable to the struggle. People may share promises from the Psalms, advice from Proverbs, stories that seem to be similar, words of Christ, thoughts from the epistles, etc...

Once several peop…