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Showing posts from February, 2011

E-Harmony Meets Church Small Groups

Sometimes, I feel like a dating service.  Seriously.
People regularly want me to connect them to a small group, or they want to know when is the next event we'll have where they can connect to a small group (an event I think would look strangely similar to a 7th grade dance).
I don't hate this part of my job, but sometimes I wish it could just be simpler... less institutional... more organic.
Try this conversation, for instance:
Q: Do you have any friends at Calvary?
A: Yes.
Follow-Up: Are they in a LIFEgroup?
A: Yes. (JOIN THEIR LIFEGROUP!)
A: No. (START A LIFEGROUP WITH THEM!)

another way this might go...
Q: Do you have any friends at Calvary?
A: No.
Follow-Up: Do you have any unsaved friends?
A: No. (MAKE SOME FRIENDS!)
A: Yes. (GET THEM SAVED AND START A LIFEGROUP WITH THEM!)
Seems simple, doesn't it?
Maybe if we were able to view "small groups" as a less formal program, and more as a life-sharing relationship, these types of conversations would make more sense?

Maturity Focused Discipleship

These thoughts aren't fully formed, but this idea is based on a pretty simple concept. Not everyone can be discipled using the same methods. This is not rocket science. Joe Myers book The Search to Belong really nails this concept and does a great job of identifying four spheres in which people develop relationships. A few years ago, I broke this idea down in a sermon entitled,  7 Things Everyone Should Know About Community.

This model, however, is based on the idea that the process of discipleship is a process which is intertwined with a person's developing spiritual maturity. Observe an infant. Their primary concern is themself. Everything they do/think/say revolves around what they want or are trying to get. Even young children spend far more time thinking about themselves than about others. Even though no one enjoys self-centered children, the reality is that almost all children are self-focused.

Around adolescence that begins to change, though. With the noticing of the op…

10 Steps to Launch a Successful Small Group

While there are no magic formulas which will enable you to create a true community of people who are sharing life, these ten steps can get you moving in the right direction:

1. Form a committed launch team. You need 2-3 partners in this venture, and all of you need to be deeply committed to one another and to making the community go.  You'll support each other through the tough stages and celebrate together when you taste success.
2. Create a prospect list.  I know, this isn't marketing and a "prospect list" sounds cold and uncaring.  But you need to work with your launch team to make a list of people you can envision being a part of your community.  Put the names on paper and start praying specifically for each person.
3. Invite every prospect.  This is just the first invitation, and it should simply be informative.  Tell the people what you are planning to do, and when you are planning to do it.  Don't ask for a commitment, but ask them to begin thinking about it.

10 Ideas for Group Prayer

Great list of ideas for group prayer. You can read the whole thing (plus descriptions) at Darren's blog.

BIRTHDAY PRAYER BOARD

PRAYERS IN A HAT

THE PEOPLE CROSS
Ask each young person and leader to write the name of a friend, work colleague or family member they wish to pray for, on a piece of paper or card. The young people then place the papers on the floor in the shape of a large cross. The group then stands in a circle around the cross and pray for the person they named. Invite them to softly speak out their individual prayers together. Encourage them to pray,

* For any needs that each friend may have
* That each friend will become more open to God
* That each friend will become a follower of Jesus
* That God would use you to reach your friends.

NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST
Ask the group to face each of these directions in turn and then pray together in silence, or out loud, for any specific needs, personal, individual, local, national, global in that direction. Find out where the …

Small Group Resources

Everything You Need to Know About Small Groups
(a small group leader's guide designed specifically for Calvary Church)

The DNA of a Healthy Christian
(a six week devotional with discussion questions)

Formations: Opening Yourself to the Fruitful Life
(a five week devotional with discussion questions)

A Spiritual Formation Group Survey (part one)
A Spiritual Formation Group Survey (part two)

Generic Bible Study
A group tool you can use with any Scripture passage

SOAP Bible Study

Steve Addison analyzes and writes about church movements. You can read his blog here.

Here are his thoughts on the SOAP method of Bible Study. Maybe you can use them in your group.

Our home group kicked off for the year last night. We share the leadership around and I was on.

We’re working through Philippians. So I pulled out some SOAP. It’s a simple Bible study method developed by Wayne Cordeiro and picked up by churches all over the place.

SOAP = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. more

We had a great night sharing our insights and our lives around the passage and then praying or each other.

I could have pulled out my Greek New Testament and given a lecture on the passage. OK my Greek is a bit rusty, but they don’t know that.

But last night all we needed was a simple method of encountering God in the scriptures together. SOAP did it for us.

I call SOAP an adaptive method. It’s simple, flexible and reproducible. According to Bob Logan, adaptive methods empower ordinary people to…

Community Dice

play the "dice game" to build community. You can make your own "community dice" by printing the picture here then doing a little folding and cutting. Of course, you make up your own things to put on each side.

Have each person roll the dice and then they must do what the dice tells them to.

This would also work great for a "prayer dice". Put six different ideas about prayer on the sides.

Another idea is to use the dice to do "group affirmations". The possibilities are only limited by your creativity!

One last tip: the thicker the paper, the better as it will give more weight to the dice.

click here for a blank copy

John Piper's Seven Reasons for Small Groups

The impulse to avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. Oh how…

Tips for Sharing Life

Josh Hunt sends out a weekly email with ideas about discipleship, church, and other issues. This week, he had some ideas for building community. Here is a modified version of his list:

1. Begin with a Get-to-know-you time

Here are a couple ideas.

Start with a get-to-know-you question. Here is an example. "Let's start today with everyone introducing themselves and what is your favorite kind of dessert." By opening the door of each person's life each week, you help to get to know each other, little by little. If I can, I try to relate this question to the topic of the day. If I can't think of a way, I still ask the question. Over time, people will learn a lot about each other; where they work, their favorite this, favorite that, birth order, kids, hobbies, and so forth. Have one person give a five-minute overview of their life: where they were born, where they have lived, marriage, kids, and key points spiritually. Allow the group to all ask one question of…

Discussion Killers

The Big Ideas for Small Groups blog has identified these different types of people who can derail your discussion. At the end are several questions. Take the time to share how you would handle these in the comments. This can be beneficial for everyone.

Monopolizing Mike: Mike talks from the moment he enters the room until the moment he leaves. He shares the same stories over and over whether they are relevant to the subject of group time or not. When Mike begins to talk, the group settles in for the long haul and appears bored and restless, and often the energy is drained from the discussion time.

Shy Sherry: Sherry seldom shares in small group time. She has trouble looking people in the eye when she does talk. She attends group regularly, but the group members know very little about her, because she has not opened up in group time. It is easy to forget that she is even there.

Expert Ed: Ed is an expert on every topic, especially the Bible. When the group discusses any topic, E…

Landmark #7: Invite (Matthew 22)

If you could invite one historical person to your home for dinner, who would it be? Why? What would you talk about?

What is the best invitation you have ever received? What made it so great?

What factors make an invitation special?

Read Matthew 22:1-14 together.

Who do you think each of the following characters represent:
The King
The King's Son
The Servants
The Guests who were invited first
The Guests who were invited second
The "good" and the "bad" people (verse 10)
The Guest without wedding clothes

Where do you see yourself in this parable? What are some of the lessons we can learn from this parable?

What do we learn about God from this parable? What do we learn about God's final judgment?

Who should God's servants be "inviting" today? To what should they be inviting them?

Make a list of ways we can invite people to God's "banquet". Which of these things are easy? Which are difficult?

How often should we be inviting peo…

Landmark #6: Live (Titus 2:11-14)

When you think of the "good ol' days" what do you think about? What is a moment from your past that you like to hang on to?

How can people's past sometimes hold them back?

When you think about the future what most excites you? What do you most fear about the future?

In Titus 2:11-14, Paul specifically addresses what the believers attitude should be toward their spiritual past and their spiritual future. He also gives sound advice about how their relationship with the past and future should impact the way they live in the present.

Read Titus 2:11-14. What phrases or words are most meaningful to you? Why?

What are the things we are instructed to reject? How would define these things? Give examples.

Ungodliness and wrong passions are a part of everyone's past. How do we get rid of them and move forward?

What do you think it means to "live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives...?" How can one go about living a life that looks like this?

What i…

Landmarks #4: Submit (John 15)

What is the greatest sacrifice someone has ever made for you? How do you feel about that person today?

Read John 15:12.

Jesus commanded his disciples to love each other as he had loved them. How would you describe Jesus' love for his disciples? How can that kind of love be imitated?

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Which description of love do you like best? Which one is most difficult for you?

What do you think it means that love "always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres?" How do you love in this way when someone is unloving toward you? Why is it difficult sometimes to assume the best about people?

Read John 15:13. In your own words describe the greatest kind of love. Does this mean there are lesser kinds of love? Explain?

Who were Jesus' friends? Who are our "friends?" Are there people for whom we shouldn't lay down our lives? Why or why not?

Does Jesus command mean that we need to literally give up our lives? Why or why not? What does…