Posts Tagged ‘community channel’

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Good to GREAT groups – Essential #1 Leadership

March 31, 2010

Who wants to be in an ‘ok’ small group.  Not me……been in far too many of those already.  I want to be in a group that nourishes and feeds my soul.

In the previous post, 5 essentials of small groups were mentioned that are required for a group to be great: leadership, vision, community, discipleship, & mission.  Without any of these, a group will struggle to reach its redemptive potential and exist in varying levels of mediocrity.  The next 5 posts will journey into each of these 5 essentials.

The greatness of any organization is always dependent upon leadership.  Same goes for small groups.  While I believe it’s possible for a small group to have a great leader and not be great, I don’t believe it’s possible for a group to be great without a great leader.  Leadership sets the tone: leaders provide vision…an excitement for what is to come; a leader’s level of honesty, openness, and transparency establishes the relational temperature and dna of every group; a leader’s example & facilitation creates an atmosphere of spiritual growth; a leader’s intentionality prevents a group from turning inward and faces them outward.

If you lead a group ask yourself: 

Are you leading yourself well?  If not, how do you expect to lead others well?  Are you growing spiritually?  If not, how do you expect God to use you to grow others spiritually?  Are you a transparent, come as you are leader?  If not, how will your group ever get to that place where members freely share their lives with each other so that transformation can take place?  Are you a servant leader?  If not, how will your group ever move from a focus on itself to a focus on what God can do through them?

As the saying goes, “Speed of the leader, speed of the team.”  GREAT groups become great because of leaders who lead them to greatness.

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Power of 10

April 30, 2009

“If a group doesn’t help each other connect it will end quickly.

If a group doesn’t help each other change, it will end within a year.

If a group fails to become mission minded it might last a long time but eventually it will become very dissatisfying.”

Bill Search from his book ‘Simple Small Groups’

I can relate to the above quote by Bill Search.  Been there and done that.  In recent months, I have been thinking a lot about the missional component of small groups because in most cases it seems to be the part of group life that gets most easily neglected.  Problem is, to not prioritize ‘mission’ in group life is to disregard who and what we believe in.  The body of believers has been called to serve each other and to serve others.  There is no getting around it.

So here is an idea for you.  Not sure who came up with the idea but I think it has tons of potential.  We are looking at potentially inviting all the men of our church to be a part of what we are calling a ‘Power of 10’ group.  Here is a brief summary of the idea:  10 people giving $10 to meet a need.  Simple as that.  The rest is up to you to figure out.  Actually, the rest is up to the Holy Spirit to figure out and lead you to do.

My group is just getting started but let me share some initial takeaways.  Our group gives $10/week so between the 10 of us that is $100/week.  We pray for opportunities to serve with the resources that are available.  You see where this is going?  We grow spiritually as we lean into God and rely on Him to lead us.  We grow relationally as we marry our resources together and serve needs that arise.  We are used by God to serve those in need and draw them closer to Him.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

It’s been so life giving to see how God is stirring in each of my group members.  They are excited about the adventure that lies ahead.  Over the next 2 years, our group will contribute over $10000 to this little journey.  We have talked about saving $3000 of it to send with our Haiti teams and using the rest in our community however God sees fit.  The opportunities are endless, that is what makes it so exciting.

Groups that last are groups that figure out a way to inspire every member of the group to begin doing exactly what it is that they feel they have been put on this planet to do.  The ‘Power of 10’ is just one way to harness the potential of 10 surrendered bodies and to let God do the rest.

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Centering on JESUS

November 12, 2008

Small group leaders are constantly asking “How?”  How do I lead my group better?  How can I make my group more attractive?  How do I disciple people more effectively?  How do I grow my group?

Perhaps we should worry less about ‘How’ and simply center group life on Jesus.  Let me quote Scott Boren from his book, ‘The Relational Way’:

“Too many times, groups have more than one person present, but only one person meeting in the name of Jesus: the group leader.  Everyone else is meeting in names such as, “frustration with my spouse,” “fear my child will mess up my life,” “exhaustion from a full day at work,” or other preoccupations.  While these feelings are valid and should never be ignored for the sake of a meeting, it often requires ninety minutes for the group leader to get one or two group members meeting in the name of Jesus; by that time everyone is ready to go home…..every group should be built around a core of two or three who are committed to meeting in the name of Jesus.  Two or three can point to the center which is Jesus.”

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  Matthew 18:20

Leaders, never move group life away from the center…..Jesus.  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  To center our groups on ourselves is to deny the One who loves us so much His rightful place in our groups.

There’s an old saying that says “If you’ve got good food, you don’t need to advertise.”  Scott Bolen goes on to say in his book that “Groups that offer good spiritual food do not have to twist arms for participation.”

The words of Christ are so satisfying……may we always long to center ourselves on Christ and actually do what He calls us to do.

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Group Life & Semesters

October 21, 2008

Here at Oakbrook, we are entering our final week of a 6 week campaign called One Month to Live.  The campaign concludes Oct. 25th.  With 2 months left before Christmas, our groups are left with the question of ‘Now what?’  We have offered our groups some next steps as they ponder this question…..click here if you are interested….but as a small groups director, this dilemma has forced me to think about defining a system for us with clearly marked on ramps and off ramps into group life.  We have operated with a semester system since we launched a groups ministry in 2003 but it has never been clearly defined and mapped out.  The result has been a less than optimal group assimilation system. 

A semester system just makes the most sense.  It is the learning style that our culture uses so why do we church leaders try to go against a learning format that our culture identifies with and relates to?  When it comes to growth and learning, we all need ‘rest’ stops along the way….times to stop and absorb….times to actually apply and put into action what we are learning….times to just chill out.  To not take a break is not healthy…..burnout sets in….we get stale….we get frustrated…..in the end, what we learn is probably not what we set out to learn.

So with the help of different blogs and books that I read, we will be initiating a more clearly defined semester based groups system in 2009.  I think there will be a number of wins.  There will be clearly defined entry and exit points(this is huge, especially for those that have never been in a group to try a group); group life will be sustainable with the input of break periods;  it will allow for the flow of people into and out of different groups; learning will be maximized and group studies will average from 4-8 sessions; it will facilitate more people to sign up because semesters are easier for people to commit to than signing up for an unending small group; semesters will give leaders a needed break resulting in decreased leader burnout; semesters will spark group health and vitality and decrease group stagnation.

My experience has been that groups work best when they: are built upon short-term commitments, allow for rest periods,  are led by fully charged leaders, change topics every 4-6 sessions, and verbalize easy in and easy out ground rules just to name a few………a semester based approach allows for this to happen.  Let the Community Channel know what you think.

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Kickstarting the Fall & Summer Reading

September 17, 2008

The Community Channel is back.  The end of summer usually means the start of the craziest season of each ministry year as churches try to rally people back into the church.  One of the primary mechanisms to do this is do create excitement around a particular weekend series and create an easy entry point for people to get involved in community and in service.  Here at Oakbrook, we have been doing just that.  On Sunday, we, along with hundreds of other churches, launched into the One Month to Live Campaign…..so far so good (except for getting our books here on time….we are still waiting for hundreds of books).  The great thing about a campaign is that it creates a very tangible entry point and exit point for those not in a small group….6 weeks…people can do that.  Our experience shows us that about 75% of those that try a group will usually remain in a group so we really feel that creating attractive topics for people to consider with easy entry and exit points is worth our effort.  I also love the excitement that new people bring to existing groups….groups just seem to be re-energized when they begin a run especially when it involves some additions to their group.

Looking back to summer, I just wanted to share some of my favorite reads with you.  Let the Community Channel know if you read some ‘must reads’ as well.  Here are my top 3 summer reads.  I can’t encourage you enough to check them out:

1. Sex God – Rob Bell (fantastic book connecting our sexuality and spirituality)                                              

2. Wide Awake – Erwin McManus  (a challenge to live full on for Christ…to not die with any unused potential)

3. The Heavenly Man – Brother Yun (one of the most amazing stories I have ever read….this guy is a modern day apostle Paul)

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Community begins with loving God

May 12, 2008

If you are a follower of Jesus, He summed up our mission very simply: Love God, Love others.

Our mission is built upon community.  You cannot love ALONE. You cannot be loved ALONE.

So if our mission is built on relationship, why do we struggle with authentic community in our lives?  Here is one thought: Is it possible that the reason we avoid relationship with others is because we are failing to comprehend the first commandment (Love God) and because of that our ability to love others and be loved is limited?

I just finished reading a book called ‘The Shack’ that is scorching the bookshelves right now.  Typically I avoid all fiction titles but several trusted friends kept recommending it to me.  All I can say is read it.  Not because it is the new gospel or the best work of fiction ever written, but I believe it will seriously get you thinking about your relationship with God in a strikingly profound way.  I think this book will touch everyone a little differently but somehow this book left me with a new craving for God and somehow it showed me just how personal my relationship with Him really is.  I have heard all my life that we are to fully surrender to Christ but this book gave me a fresh lens with what that really might look like.  Read it and let the Community Channel know how it spoke to you.  Reading ‘The Shack’ gave me the thoughts for this post.

Here is what I know: All of us have been wounded by this life.  The wounds hurt and we all try to limit the pain by controlling our environment and relationships in some way…we hibernate.  Our wounds affect our ability to love and our willingness to be known unless we are willing to embrace what God says to us.  God says that He loves us and He asks us to love him back.  What does that mean exactly?  I think it means surrender.  Let me explain.  In us, God wants to heal us of our wounds and give us abundant life.  A part of loving God is that we let God do this in us but what I see is a generation of people holding on to the wounds that have hurt them.  In us, God wants to free us from the slavery of sin.  A part of loving God is that we turn from that which so easily entangles us and accept forgiveness but what I see is a generation of people being strangled.  In us, God wants to sit on the throne.  A part of loving God says, ‘not mine but thine’ (a favorite saying of my good friend Morgan Young), but what I see is a generation that still wants to play the judge of their own affairs and take justice in their own hands.  Loving God is to let Him heal your wounds, to let Him set you free, and to let Him be judge.   Total surrender leads to total healing….total healing leads to total freedom….total freedom gives us the ability to embrace relationships without reservation…to love others…to experience pure community as God designed it. 

Community begins with loving God.

Read ‘The Shack’ and dive into Philippians 3.  Share your comments.  May we come to that point where our one desire is to know God.  It is where community begins.