Please enjoy this replay of our recent webinar: Effective Small Groups in the Modern Church.
Webinar Sponsor: Smallgroup.com
Resource: Group Answers Podcast
Hey everyone, my name is Chris Surratt and I am the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, and author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us, and Gospel-Centered Small Groups. I am super excited to let you know about a small groups webinar that I will be hosting on October 9th, 2018 at 11AM Central. Our panelists: Steve Gladen from Saddleback Church, Heather Zempel from National Community Church, and Bill Willits from North Point Community Church, will be discussing how to have effective small groups in the modern church. At a time when churches are giving up on, or moving away from, offering small groups, how are these three trend-setting churches continuing to produce life-changing and disciple-making groups for not only just church members, but for people outside of the church as well? And, the best part about this webinar? It’s completely free! Just hit the registration link on this video and join us for one hour on Tuesday, October 9th at 11am to learn about producing effective small groups in the modern church.
Mother’s Day is approaching. If you lead a group that includes moms, share this word with them.
For those times when you feel like you blew it with your kids—whether you yelled at them, didn’t listen, accidentally played favorites, was too controlling, or was too lenient—you’re not alone. I wonder if the following women ever felt that way. Consider their background.
There you have it—four women whose background would make them suspect in the local parent-teacher association. Were they good mothers or bad mothers? We don’t know, but I can assure you of one thing:
God used them.
All four of these women are mentioned by Matthew in his account of the genealogy of Jesus. He didn’t mention Eve, Sarah, or other women who surely had better pasts. He mentioned these four women by name. Yes, they were not perfect women—and by extension, we can assume they were not perfect mothers—but God used them to ultimately bring us the Messiah.
God uses us in spite of our mistakes. If there are things you can correct, do so. If you need to ask for forgiveness, ask. But rest also in God’s grace and ability to work in the lives of your children—even your wayward children.
God is not through with your kids. And He is not through with you.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Lynn Pryor is a team leader for adult resources at LifeWay. He is serving a Nashville church as their transitional interim pastor. Lynn and his wife, Mary, have survived raising two sons to adulthood. A graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Lynn has previously pastored and served churches in Texas. Read more from his blog at lynnhpryor.com.
Mother’s Day. It’s almost a sacred institution in our culture. If you think I’m exaggerating, ask any preacher who’s ever failed to preach on the topic or have a Mother’s Day emphasis on the second Sunday of May.
I’m all for honoring mothers, but not everyone looks forward to Mother’s Day, such as:
Let’s find ways to encourage people to honor their mothers while being sensitive to those who hurt.
“Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise” (Eph. 6:2).
We can honor our mothers whether they are living or not.
Make this Mother’s Day a day that honors Christ in the way we both honor mothers and love those who are hurt.
Lynn Pryor is a team leader for adult resources at LifeWay. He serves a Nashville church as their transitional interim pastor. Lynn and his wife, Mary, have survived raising two sons to adulthood. A graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Lynn has previously pastored and served churches in Texas. Read more from his blog at lynnhpryor.com.
As the springtime pollen settles and the summer sun starts to scorch, it’s tempting to allow that summer heat to affect your small groups, too. With vacations and conferences, camps and family reunions, summertime is notorious for poor small group attendance. Yet with the proper attitude and the gusto to plan ahead, below are three ways to keep your groups from dying this summer:
I try to live by the Boy Scout motto, “Always Be Prepared.” And its effectiveness has proven true! For example, when you invite someone to an event such as a wedding, you send out invitations three months in advance so you will increase your odds of more people showing up. The same is true for your small groups: if you provide your group members with your summertime plans—whether that be a new book, an online Bible study, or a group camping trip—the better odds you’ll have that members will prioritize your group on their calendars.
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we have to get spiritually stagnant. In the same vein of being prepared, try giving a three- to five-minute “blurb” to your group about why you plan on keeping up with meetings over the summer months. Get philosophical, if you must. Because unlike summer, discipleship doesn’t take any breaks. If group members see that you prioritize your ministry, they might prioritize their attendance.
Some of my fondest memories come from my college small group in the summer at my home church. I looked forward to attending every summer because my primary community came from this small group. Because we could have fun with one another, we could trust one another with our vulnerable moments. Terry hosted “kickball Mondays,” where we’d play (pretty competitively) and go out to dinner afterwards. And when it was time to have our Bible study, Pam would bake chocolate chip cookies. My leaders created a relaxed environment, which enabled us to open up more.
Caroline Case is a proud Nashville transplant from Naples, Florida, who serves as the Production Editor for LifeWay’s smallgroup.com and custom Bible study teams. Caroline has a Bachelor of Communication from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. She is pursuing her Master of Arts in English at Belmont University in Nashville, where she will go on to pursue her doctorate and teach.
I have encouraged leaders to look for seasons of being overwhelmed, to disregard the cliché, “don’t bite off more than you can chew,” and to intentionally take on more than you thought you could handle so you will be forced to learn and grow.
“What is God’s will for my life?” we have asked. And we should ask. We should, as Christians, care deeply about God’s will for our lives. Yet this question shouldn’t be informational in nature; when we ask the question; it shouldn’t be like we are looking into a crystal ball. We should be asking with positive intentions. We have already made up our minds that our lives do not belong to us; instead they belong to Jesus, so we have already resolved to follow Him in whatever and wherever He might lead.
What would happen if you found your purpose and lived it out? How would that change things for you? Imagine waking up every morning and saying, “Good God, it’s morning!” than, “good god, it’s morning!”
As a leader, the poetry and wisdom books of Scripture (from Job through Song of Solomon) should be a regular part of your devotional diet. Not only do they help us relate to others, but they also help us relate to our Creator.
In this episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast, Todd Adkins and Eric Geiger discuss Eric’s new book, How to Ruin Your Life and Starting Over When You Do.
by Dave Enns
One of the great privileges of leading small groups is having the opportunity to help someone work through a tough issue. Yet, the fear of dealing with these issues can actually cause a leader to never step up to lead, or to quit or do all they can to remain on the surface to avoid an issue. It’s also what can cause a well-intentioned leader to become a “Bible answer assault person,” quoting Bible verses at someone hoping to fix the problem, unaware of how to come alongside the person and help.
We ask our leaders to not focus on advice or problem solving, but rather to come alongside others to help them walk through their issues and point them to the right resources. To help our leaders embrace the tough stuff and create an environment for growth, we recommend they ask these four simple questions.
Determining when the event happened and if it’s reoccurring is important in understanding the complexity of the issue. This will help determine how quickly and to what level you need to respond. An issue that has just come up will most likely require a different response time than one that has been around for five years.
Finding out if you’re the only person they have ever told reveals their level of vulnerability, if they are operating in isolation on the issue, and it helps determine the kind of support and influence they have. Finding out who gathers around them for support can make all the difference.
Just because someone has told others about their issue doesn’t mean they have sought counsel on how to overcome it or are motivated to start dealing with it. They may only want others to sympathize with their difficulty. Who they have received advice from can make the difference. Finding out if there is input they received that they disagree with tells a lot about how they are processing the issue.
The response to this question tells you whether or not they know what to do next, and how involved you need to be to lend support and resources. It also helps communicate that action on their part will be necessary to deal with their struggle.
We have found that these four questions make it easy for any leader to gather context as they help their group members. These questions usually make finding the next steps and needed resources relatively straightforward. We also let our leaders know they never have to deal with an issue they don’t think they can handle. As pastors, we’re available if they need additional assistance, direction, or resources. And finally, we don’t ask our leaders to be experts in dealing with issues; we only ask that they care for those whom God has brought to them to help navigate their challenges.
Dave Enns has been on staff at North Coast Church (the Sticky Church) since 1990 and is the lead pastor of their Small Groups Ministry. He oversees a team of 25 staff, 1,400 lay leaders and over 6,000 who attend their home groups.
by Reid Smith
Have you ever been in a high-pressure situation where you needed to know the facts on how to do something…and fast? Imagine a friend needed YOU to jump in and lead their group last minute. What would you need to know? These principles can serve as your quick-start guide:
Biblical community will grow when you exercise these principles. Along the way, you’ll experience the thrill of being used by God to inspire real growth in His people and helping those who have yet to know Him find their way home.
Reid Smith has been equipping leaders in churches of all sizes and stages of growth for effective disciple-making since 1996. He lives in Wellington, Florida where he serves as a Groups Pastor at Christ Fellowship. You can find more of his helpful resources at www.reidsmith.org.
Leading a Bible study for a small group is an achievable task for most leaders. With the right preparation and curriculum, a group leader’s main goal is simply facilitating a conversation aimed at creating a discipleship experience.
On the other hand, teaching an effective Bible study is not easy, and only a few people are gifted enough teachers to exegete Scripture in an applicable, understandable way.
That is why I love having video-enhanced studies as a curriculum tool for small-group leaders. They free the leader up to focus on the discipleship conversations, while making sure the group is getting doctrinally sound teaching from teachers you can trust.
Widespread use of broadband Internet has made the video delivery easier as well. Instead of each group having to purchase a DVD, they can stream it straight from a site like smallgroup.com to their TV or computer.
But like any tool, there are a few things a leader should still do to make it a good experience for the group. Here are five tips for leading an effective video-enhanced study:
1. Watch the video ahead of time
A good leader is always one step ahead in the process so she knows how to steer the discussion in the right direction. Watching the video and going over the questions before the meeting helps you know where the finish line should be for the meeting.
2. Pre-test the tech
We can easily distract from the group experience by just assuming the video will work. Technical issues will occasionally happen no matter what, but testing it every time before the meeting will make those awkward moments rare.
3. Allow the group to process the teaching
If a leader has done his homework and pre-watched the video, then he has already processed the material and is ready to dive right into the discussion. The rest of the group, however, will need a few moments to digest what they just watched. It’s okay to let the first couple of questions hang in the air while everyone is still processing.
4. Study the Bible, not the teacher
A good video-enhanced study will lead the group to examine the Bible for answers, but it will be tempting to just discuss the best quotes from the teaching. The leader will need to always press the group to dig further into Scripture and not just rely on the video. That’s why it’s so important to have a study guide to go along with the video teaching.
5. Leave time after the video for discussion
One of the most important pieces of a successful Bible study is time management. A good leader should always keep one eye on the clock and know when to move the group to the next segment of the study. If the group spends too much time on the icebreakers, and the video is 30 minutes or longer, there will not be enough time to study the Scripture behind the teaching and discuss how to apply it to their lives.
Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with more than 23 years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Teams at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tenn., and Seacoast Church in Charleston, S.C., prior to becoming the Discipleship and Small Groups Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes. You can follow his blog at www.chrissurratt.com.
by Jared Musgrove
Bible reading, meditation, journaling, meaty theology books—they are crucial and quite individualistic. And while there is a place for your personal, passionate pursuit of God, the Bible was never meant to remain a solely singular endeavor. The reading of the Word of God has always been a communal experience.
These books, letters, stories, poems, and prophecies are meant to be read aloud. It is the call upon the people of God to worship Him through His Word recounted and recited in the midst of biblical community.
Dr. Jeff Arthurs presents five reasons why the public reading of Scripture is integral to Christian communal worship, not as mere perfunctory recitation but as impassioned and Spirit-empowered speaking of the very words of God:
These reasons form a basis for seeing the Scriptures as a community treasure. Reading the Word in community need not be long-faced and doleful. It should come alive with the very personalities behind the words themselves.
Dr. Jared Steven Musgrove serves as Groups Pastor and an elder at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Oklahoma, a Master of Divinity in preaching from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Ministry from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the husband of Jenny and the father of Jordan and Joshua. You can follow him on Twitter at @jsmusgrove.