Posts Tagged ‘small groups’

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40 Days in the Word

March 1, 2012

Just throwing out a thumbs up to Saddleback Church’s 40 Days in the Word spiritual growth campaign.  We are in Week 3 and are thrilled about the launch of 30 new groups and the addition of 220 new people into groups adding to the 40 groups and 400 people in groups we had before this series!  For the first time in our 25+ year history as a church we have a small group participation at or near 75% of weekend attendance.  Last weekend several people gave their lives to Jesus and we have heard many encouraging stories from small groups as people engage God’s Word.  Thank you Saddleback for all of your efforts to share this great study with the rest of us.

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Being the BODY – Groups @ their best

January 20, 2010

Our church, Oakbrook, participated in the Advent Conspiracy (watch this video if you have never seen it!)this year.  We collected a year end offering to support global & local compassion efforts and encouraged our small groups to also come up with creative ways to serve others during the Christmas season.  I am always so proud of our church in times like this.  Despite the fact that we live in one of the most economically depressed cities in the United States (~20% unemployment), our people continue to grow in the area of generosity because of their love for Jesus and others.  Here is just a snapshot of some great stories that came out of Oakbrook’s 2009 Advent Conspiracy:

-Offering exceeding $25000 to go towards global (Haiti) & local missions!

-“Our group assisted 2 families: One family has not had a full-time job for 3 years and another family who has sent their teenage son to work to help pay the bills.  We paid up the teenage son’s lunch account for the remainder of the year.”

-“Our group gave a $275 gift certificate to a family who lost their job and health insurance.”

-“Our group served meals at a local mission.  It impacted us greatly and we are planning to go back and serve every few months.”

-“Our group wrapped gifts for the Rescue Mission and then helped deliver the gifts during Christmas week.”

-“Our group bought presents, grocery gift cards, paper goods, and toiletries for 2 families.  We are also serving every other month by serving meals at Kokomo Urban Outreach the second Sunday of each month.”

-“Our group helped a family who had lost their dad in an accident earlier in the year.  We were able to provide some clothing, shoes, toys, and gift cards so they could have a somewhat ‘normal’ Christmas.”

-“Our group collected $600 to sponsor the needs of someone we know who was going to Haiti.  We also committed to contributing a minimum of $100/month toward his expenses for as long as he is there. We also provided gifts for ‘Angel Outreach’, bought diapers & wipes for Healthy Families, wrapped gifts for the Rescue Mission, rang bells for the Salvation army, supported a group member’s trip to Haiti right before Christmas, and made dinner for a group member whose mother passed away.”

“Our group helped 2 families by buying presents for their children.  We gave another family $75 for groceries.  We also paid for the repair of a windshield for a girl who could not afford this repair.  Finally, we visited a retirement home and sang Christmas carols and gave gifts to the residents.”

-I had one group hand me a backpack full of cash ($300) to be given towards a local backpack program that provides food to needy students every weekend.

-“Our group gave about $200 to buy gifts for some children that had just lost their father unexpectedly and because of finances would not be receiving any gifts this year.”

-6 groups in our Young Married Community and many others in our church joined together to provide Christmas to about 75 ‘angels’ at The Community Youth Outreach Center.  Every child received a gift (for many this would be their only gift!) and a whole lot of pizza to fill their bellies!  These 6 groups also spent a night before Thanksgiving sorting over 800 pairs of socks that would be delivered to needy families by Kokomo Urban Outreach.

Does it get any better than this?  Don’t just talk about it, be about it!

Looking for the best idea I’ve experienced in a long time to bring mission into grouplife?  Check out The Power of 10. It’s revolutionary!

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Praying Power

December 11, 2009

You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again: people that PRAY together STAY together.  When 2 or more people pray regularly together, a powerful sense of community happens.  When my wife and I pray together, we are stronger.  When my kids and I pray together, we are stronger.  When I pray with my friends, we are stronger.  I just got back from a trip to Haiti where we teamed up with a Haitian church to put on a weeklong series of evening services in the middle of a bean field.  Yes, that’s what I said, a bean field.  Amazingly, 2000+ people were attending by week’s end and 150+ people accepted Christ, but the most powerful element of the week for me was joining my Haitian brothers and sisters for 2 hours of prayer every morning.  By week’s end, simply by praying together, our team was deeply connected to a group of people that we previously did not know and that didn’t even speak our language!  The power of prayer cannot be put into words.  Even my couple’s small group’s best experience this fall happened right before I left for Haiti and my group circled up and prayed over me.  Does one ever feel more loved and cared for than when the people they love take the time to pray for them?  I don’t think so.  Are you remembering to pray with those you love?  Is prayer central to your small group experience?  Don’t forget where we started this post: people that PRAY together STAY together!

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Leading Challenging People

October 20, 2009

It seems like every small group has its challenges…..it’s always messy at some level.  Was Jesus’ small group challenging?  I would say yes.  The disciples argued over power, they said he didn’t care, they doubted him, they questioned him ….. messy.  The ‘messy’ part of relationships is usually due to the fact that none of us are the same (which is a reason to celebrate!), but how do we deal with the person that seem to always create a negative tension whenever they are present?  You know who I mean…the loose cannon, the conversation monopolizer, the “I speak for my spouse’ person, the ‘Yeah, but..’ guy, the constant ‘go against the flow’ gal, or the infamous ‘conversation buster’.

Here are a few steps to deal with the challenging people in your groups:

ENCOURAGE– Sometimes all it takes is to help someone gain awareness and sensitivity to how they may be negatively affecting the group dynamic.  Once they have an ‘aha’ moment, ask them for their help.  For example, if they are a conversation monopolizer let them know how great a contributor they are and ask them if they recognize that not many others engage in group conversation.  Ask them to help you get others involved by talking less and inviting others into the conversation.  Here is the key, whatever it is you invite them to help you with, make sure you affirm them when you observe them helping!

DISCUSSION – If the ‘Encouragement’ level is not working, sit down and discuss how you can help someone grow in the area they are struggling with.  This form of personalized leadership will convey an authentic sense of caring.  When feeling cared for, most people will be willing to deal with the issues at hand with an open mindset.

ADMONISH – This is the ‘warning’ approach.  There are instances when a leader needs to step in and get an issue resolved or the group may not survive.  Don’t forget that its very probable that the unruly person is not just unruly in small group.  They are likely this way at home, at work etc. and the sandpaper effect that they have will never change unless they are challenged.  True friends stab each other in the front!

Encourage, Discuss, Admonish.  A 3-step approach that will help with your challenging relationships.  Lead strong.

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Developing Leaders – Part 2

October 19, 2009

We use a very simple model to help encourage, equip, and vision cast to small group leaders at Oakbrook.  Over the past 6 years we have tried various methods of coaching and leadership development with limited success.  I’m not saying that the models of coaching and leadership development that I have read about in books and heard about at conferences do not work, but for us, these so called ‘advanced’ models just didn’t resonate with our leaders.

We do not have a coaching model.  Not saying we won’t in the future, but our attempts at coaching have never worked.  I know that books and research will tell you that leaders want to be cared for and that a coaching model is the answer, but what we have found is that leaders feel most loved and cared for when that is supplied by their own group members.  Therefore, we have tried to model a culture where the leader is as dependent on his/her group for care as the other group members.

If a leader needs vision or direction to lead their group, then they are free to contact myself or anyone on the group leadership team that they are a part of.  It’s the old doctor-patient theory.  I don’t want my doctor calling me and checking up on me, but I sure do want my doctor to be accessible when I am sick.  That is the design we use, if you need us we are here for you, but we are not going to check up on you regularly and ask for extra time from you that we know you don’t have to give.

Then we also have a model of leadership equipping and vision casting that every small group leader is a part of.  Group leaders are placed on a leadership team that meets about 3-4 times/year.  Each team is comprised of about 8-12 people.  We do our best to take the ‘meeting’ feel out of these events as much as we can by including a ‘table’ experience (meal) every time we meet.  The evenings are as much about enjoying a meal with other leaders as it is about anything else but after the meal we will engage in a conversation that allows me to provide vision and leadership training.  We’ve been doing this for about 2 years and I can honestly say that we avg. 90% or better attendance!

For me, as our church’s small group director, these nights not only catalyze the ministry but they allow me to get face to face with all of our leaders and really hear what is going on in their individual groups.  I leave these evenings energized and able to refocus on areas that leaders clearly identify in our discussions.  It’s a win-win setup.  It is so much better than some type of all leader group training event because everyone gets to engage and I get to really know where everyone is at.  From here, I can also set up 1 on 1’s if the need is there.

This system gives our leaders a lot of freedom, but so far they have used their freedom well and are doing a great job leading their individual groups.  Your feedback and comments are always appreciated!

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Developing Leaders – Part 1

August 21, 2009

Here is a short snapshot, written by one of my great friend / mentors at Oakbrook (Morgan Young), about how we develop and empower small group leaders at Oakbrook Church….check it out…..I will expand on our strategy in a future post.  Would love to hear what you do to successfully equip and serve your leaders!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leading the Leaders

Sandra and I went to “Small Group Leader Training” tonight. Jason Braun, Oakbrook’s Director of Connections gets together these informal huddles of group leaders to share a pitch-in meal then talk about leadership, vision—generally, how to be better group leaders.

It’s a very informal evening that’s conducive to connecting, sharing and learning. Jason gets leaders together about once per quarter in someone’s home.

If you’re a group leader and haven’t been to one of these, you’re missing out! (more pics)

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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.