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Archive for September, 2013

10 Questions for Small Group Planning – 9

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

In recent weeks, we’ve looked at three critical questions for small group ministry planning:

1. Why are we doing small groups?

2. What will our small groups do?

3. Who will we involve in small groups?

4. Will we keep an open chair?

5. What will our groups not do?

6. Who must we find?

7. Commitment – Do we anticipate low requirement?

8. Content – What will the group do?

 

Next on our list is another important decision for leaders:

9. Term – How often will we meet?

The frequency of group meetings can be one of the most critical decisions for a small group’s success. Meet too often and attendance will be inconsistent. Meet too rarely and the desired relationships never seem to develop. A leader must be careful to think through every aspect of this decision and be flexible enough to adjust when difficulties seem evident.

Again, the primary purpose of the group is important to this decision. Is the group content focused? If so, it will need to meet consistently and more frequently, usually weekly or bi-weekly (every two weeks). If a content group meets too rarely, then the group will have difficulty gaining momentum and struggle to attain the full benefit of the curriculum. Long gaps between meetings hinder the flow of learning and require a lot of review.

If the group’s purpose is relationships, either the group should meet regularly for a short span of time or perhaps monthly if the group desires to be ongoing. For example, a “life group” might meet weekly for eight-twelve weeks, or bi-weekly for a quarter, but then take a month off before beginning again. This gives focused time to the relationship building without becoming overbearing. The longer the group plans to be together, the less frequently they should meet.

No matter the plan, weekly and bi-weekly groups will need breaks. Many churches use a semester format where groups meet for 12-15 weeks and then take a break. Usually the calendar will allow three semesters a year (fall, winter, spring) with a summer break.

Those groups that meet monthly may not require such a break. They can meet throughout the year, perhaps taking a month or two off during the summer. Because these are low commitment and low requirement groups that usually are more focused on activities, they can continue without the schedule exhausting the group members.

However you plan, be sure you plan. Knowing why you’re meeting and allowing that decision to determine your meeting frequency will give your groups their best chance for success.

 

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 84

September 26, 2013 Leave a comment

84. but what are they among so many? (John 6:9)

It’s a fair question. The enormity of need dwarfs the available resources, such that Andrew’s locating of the boy with the lunch seems hardly useful. What’s the point?  But Jesus can do more with nothing than we imagine. Andrew’s apparent lack of faith might be easy to criticize if it weren’t so common. Who could have guessed what Jesus had in mind that day? And how often does He have plans that seem beyond comprehension for us. The best point is to trust what Jesus says and be obedient in such unlikely moments. he may be about to do what you have never imagined possible.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 113

September 25, 2013 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Last week, my wife and I drove cross country to celebrate our granddaughter’s third birthday. We decided to drive, wanting to see the two thousand plus miles between us and our kids. Three days of windshield time in each direction brought an almost non-stop display of beauty as we traversed numerous mountain ranges and drove along winding rivers.

To be honest, I haven’t taken such a peaceful approach to multiple days in a while. Usually a tight travel schedule has me rushing through airports, hurriedly getting from one assignment to another. I seldom notice places pictured in postcards, but allow responsibility and an obsessive approach to time management to keep me focused on whatever my current mission might be.

Six slow days of driving proved a wonderful relief. I left behind an experience that was both enriching and educational. The so-called fly-over states have a lot to offer and provide ample proof of a majestic Creator. I need to slow down more often.

Perhaps that’s my point today. Rather than brow beat you for failing to stop and smell the occasional rose, let me openly confess my reluctance to engage such moments and tell you that I’m newly resolved to do better. In this culture of more and my own pursuit of the “mores” on my target list, I now want to see more, enjoy more, and maybe even rest a bit more.

I don’t want to come to whatever end my life may have and realize I moved so fast, I didn’t take time to live. As a fellow sufferer, let me encourage you to take more time for life too.

God created this world to be enjoyed, not to be conquered.

 

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 79

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

79. I do not accept praise from men (John 5:41).

Can we be that focused on pleasing God that we have no interest in the praise of men? Too easily we judge ourselves “on the curve” of those around us. If we excel beyond the ability of others, we think ourselves great and usually there are those who will affirm our thoughts. But are we measuring up to the capacity God intends for our lives. Surely He can do more with us than can be matched by our abilities. Do we seek that level of excellence. We must pursue His standard and His good pleasure. Only then will our lives find the purpose they are intended to know.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

10 Questions for Small Group Planning – 8

September 23, 2013 Leave a comment

In recent weeks, we’ve looked at three critical questions for small group ministry planning:

1. Why are we doing small groups?

2. What will our small groups do?

3. Who will we involve in small groups?

4. Will we keep an open chair?

5. What will our groups not do?

6. Who must we find?

7. Commitment – Do we anticipate low requirement?

 

Next on our list is another important decision for leaders:

8. Content – What will the group do?

When planning your small groups, determining the specifics of each group ahead of time can prove very important. First, we have already determined if this is a content group or one that prioritizes relationships. But if content is even a secondary consideration, then how will that content be chosen?

Will the church prescribe the curriculum? If content is primary, answer should be “yes.” If the church doesn’t choose the curriculum, will approval of the content be required? Frankly, this is generally a good idea for groups of all types.

Another functional question asks, will the leader be a teacher or facilitator? Either choice means training is needed, but a teacher’s training requires more extensive effort. A teacher will need to approach expert status in the material and may need to be able to handle questions on a wider scale. A facilitator will need to learn how to generate healthy discussion, but can rely on the video or book to answer questions. Facilitators aid the group in working through the material. They are not the presenters.

Another important decision concerns childcare. How will group members’ children be provided for? It’s generally a good idea to make each group responsible for their own plan. If you try to provide a secondary plan for childcare for all of your groups, the challenge will quickly become a lot to manage. Groups can arrange for a childcare provider and share the cost. If no plan is made for children, the group will struggle as people typically won’t pay a babysitter for multiple weeks.

Will there be food? Who will plan for that? How will the materials be purchased and who will cover the cost? Members of high requirement groups typically buy their own material, but deciding up front can help avoid confusion later.

As you can see, there’s a number of issues to think through when planning a small group. Think through these issues and any others that arise as you plan a typical meeting. The more questions you answer in the planning phase, the more quickly group members can understanding and adapt.

 

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 78

September 20, 2013 Leave a comment

78. John was a lamp that burned and gave light (John 5:35).

Perhaps nothing can be better said of a servant of Christ than this–He was a lamp that burned and gave light. The true servant gives his very best. He burns for the purposes of the Master and only finds fulfillment in the achievement of those responsibilities. For John, that meant preparing the way for Jesus. His message of repentance was to usher in the kingdom–to prepare the hearts of people to receive new life. For that purpose John gave himself as a light to show the path toward God. May we find a similar purpose and give our best to it.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 112

September 18, 2013 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

A few months ago, we all followed the ongoing story of a fire ravaging through Colorado and threatening numerous homes and subdivisions. Ultimately the loss was significant, devastating to the lives of hundreds.

Like a fire, sexual desire creates its own havoc when it burns out of control. God identifies the proper boundaries for sexual expression. Similarly, fire has important uses too. But like fire, sex can quickly get out of control.

The only solution to a spreading fire is to put it out. Unfortunately, some fires become nearly impossible to quench when they reach a certain point. I’m guessing you can see the connection to increasing sexual sin.

As with a fire, however, there’s a window where it’s most possible to put it out. Sexual sin can be conquered if we deal with temptation when it first begins to emerge. If we put off our effort to resist, the “fire” begins to burn beyond our ability to control.

And when that fire burns out of control there’s virtually no limit to the damage it can do. How many families have been consumed in the spread of such wildfires? It seem there’s no area of sin that can prove most destructive to the most important relationships in one’s life.

So don’t play with fire and don’t play with sexual sin either. You can’t afford the damage…