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Contextualizing and Personalizing Questions

The Discover Your Bible method strives to incorporate personalized questions in a way that draws people closer to the Bible through discovery while building relationships through sharing.

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How to Be A Spiritual Guide in Coffee Break

Coffee Break Leaders recognize that the end goal is to have people become more like Jesus, or simply put, guiding people towards him as a spiritual guide. Here are some ways you can act as a spiritual guide. 

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Hospitality — The Glue of Groups

As we welcome new individuals into our Coffee Break groups, here are some ways we can extend hospitality to them. 

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Gathering to Grow God's Kingdom: Leader Training

What would you hope for from a Coffee Break Leader training? When asked, the 32 leaders gathered in Chicagoland resonated with two common themes: encouragement and becoming more effective in leading conversation.

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Growing Together: Leader Connect

By sharing our best ideas and leaning on each other for support, we can better grow God’s garden. Connect with other small group leaders in our new Facebook group: Coffee Break Leader Connect. 

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Uncovering New Ground

When a woman from Grand Rapids felt called to reach out to a neighborhood community of refugees, she took it step by step. Read her story of scattering seeds of faith and be encouraged! 

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Moving Forward in Leadership

Let’s move forward in leadership this summer. Check out these two leadership exercises to stretch and strengthen leadership skills.

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Let’s Get Moving...to Inspire 2017

Inspire 2017 is an event for ministry leaders of all sizes and shapes...including Coffee Break Ministry leaders! Coffee Break Ministry leaders have also been given a special discount code for registration.

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Moving Through Discover Colossians

God is moving through His Word in the Merced, CA, Coffee Break! Be inspired by these stories of how the words of Colossians and the work of the Holy Spirit are changing lives. 

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Coffee Break Moves!

Coffee Break will be moving to a new home! No address change needed as the new move partners us with Timothy Leadership Training Institute (TLTI) and Educational Care (EC) to support global leaders. 

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Exporting Bible Discovery

Coffee Break groups are sprouting up all over the world. The largest challenge of this global expansion is keeping up with translations! Learn about two ways we are responding and how you can get involved. 

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New Discover Studies for Fall 2017

Three new Discover studies will be available in the fall of 2017! The studies on Thessalonians, Jonah, and the whole Bible came out of partnerships between experienced leaders, writers and ethnic voices. 

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Get Excited! Spanish Discover Your Bible Studies

Libna Sierra, a pastor’s wife at Sunlight Espanol, used to write her own small group lessons until she learned about the Discover Your Bible series. She is so thankful to have materials in her first language! 

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Coffee Break and Story Hour Leaders: Let's Meet at Inspire 2017!

Come join the fun at Inspire 2017! Coffee Break small group leaders will learn alongside church planters and Story Hour leaders alongside campus ministry leaders. Imagine the conversations!

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Growing in Story Hour

I had the opportunity to take my youngest grandson, Connor, to and from Story Hour. Connor talked fondly of what his teachers told him and developed a “matter of fact attitude” about God. It is a blessing!

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Story Hour Fun in Drayton

Anja Noordam has been involved in Coffee Break and Story Hour for 27 years; that’s a lot of experience! Here are a few things she has learned about crafts, clean-up, and making Bible stories stick. 

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Fill in the Gaps With Free Stand-Alone Lessons

The free stand-alone Discover Your Bible lessons are offered in a PDF format that can be printed in the familiar booklet format, notebook size, or in large print.

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Tuning in to Learn Communication From the Bible

When Grace first became a Christian, she simply offered up to the Lord her pen, her Bible, and her voice. She didn’t feel like she had much to offer, but God is working through her in ways she never expected.

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Coffee Break Small Group Trainings: California and Michigan

The Coffee Break Small Group training is a hands on learning experience to equip leaders to facilitate conversations about the text so that people can discover for themselves what the Bible says and means.

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Celebrating 15 Years of Coffee Break in Merced, CA

The Coffee Break ministry at Yosemite Church has touched the lives of hundreds of women in the past 15 years! Wanting to bless their community, the ladies just threw a baby shower at the local pregnancy center. 

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Up-Side-Down Coffee Break Small Group Training

Coffee Break and small group leaders in Grand Rapids, MI and Platte, SD experienced a newly revised leadership training where participants led the learning process. We all left tired and inspired!

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What are the some of the best Icebreakers you've heard?

Thanks Kristin.  This is my heart for Coffee Break.  These are some very practical ways to integrate the focus on transformation into our weekly gatherings.  

I'm not a Coffee Break Leader but a Faith Formation Ministry Leader. I love your questions! I believe it is really important for us to read the Bible not just for information but for transformation. I heartily encourage all Coffee Break Leaders in being Spiritual Guides. I'm going to save this post for our small groups.

Be sure to share what you think about being a Spiritual Guide!

Thanks Diane!  I agree whole-heartedly!  For those who live alone (or those who are in challenging relationships), we can give the gift of touch.  And it's a great suggestion to ask first.  Thanks for that reminder!

This is great!  One more note that goes with #7:  Not only do we tell them that we love them, but we also ask them if they want hugs. Many of our women are older and are living alone. They mention often that Coffee Break is one of the only places they feel a hug each week, and it keeps them coming back.  Of course, we need to be sensitive, and always ask first. 

A goal for the new year.

I enjoyed learning about the history of Coffee Break! Thanks for sharing. 

Past, Present, and Future.

I'm excited for this! Does it work that there is a new topic each Thursday and we can add our thanks? 

#ThankfulThursdays

Hi Michelle, great question. We have been using the NIRV with Basic English studies. Here's some exciting news --We are working on translating a set of DYB studies into Basic English. The Basic English adaptation of Discover Ruth and Discover Jonah will be ready very soon. We are doing this work so that its easier to translate the studies into different languages.  So, you will be able to purchase a Discover Your Bible study in English, Basic English, Spanish, Korean and other languages!! 

Sam

Hi Sam! I'm wondering if you could recommend a good Bible translation that I could give to a new couple in our church who are in ESL classes. Their English is improving exponentially (!) and I'd love to give them an easy-to-read Bible translation (that isn't a children's Bible). Thanks

Michelle

Thanks Sam!  I think one of the things that I'm learning is our need to 'wonder'!  I often challenge people to try to read the text as if reading it for the first time.  (We often read through our 'churchy' eyes, and miss some key details.)  What do you wonder about?  What questions does it raise for you?  

Sometimes we ask questions with the answer already in mind.  What about the things we don't readily have answers to?  What might we learn or begin to see about who God is?  What are we wrestling with in the text?

I love the beauty of asking questions, and how they help us to dig deeper into the truth of scripture.  Jesus asked questions of his listeners and followers, a lot!  

Thanks for the reminder, Sam!

Hi, I have found that women like to know people from other groups. We have  occasionally used the opening time to build cross group relationships to strengthen the social belonging.  Joseph Meyers, in his book Search to Belong, says that people need different kinds of belonging in order to feel part of something. The different types are intimate (3-4), personal (6-10), social (15-30), Public (50 plus) belonging. We do really well with the personal belonging in Coffee Break small groups. People also need to feel comfortable in the social space, as well.  

There are lots of ways to do that. Here's a couple that I have tried. 

(1) Ask everyone to arrange themselves is big circle by birth dates. Add a fun twist by telling the to do it without talking.  Then, they can ask the person next to them how they like to spend their birthday. Perhaps have a prize ready for pairs who share the same birthday. 

(2) Bingo - Create a bingo card with fun accomplishments or adventures. Send them off to get a bingo. Possible things to put in the squares: Someone who likes camping, Someone who has travelled to more than 4 countries, Someone who has bungee jumped, someone who has completed a quilt, etc. Be sensitive to the special abilities of your group when you create the bingo sqaures.  You could up the belonging quotient by asking for stories.

(3) Find creative ways to pair people up. Give them a set of interview questions so they can learn more about each other. Ask for two or three people to introduce the person they met to the whole group. 

I'd love to hear about how other groups use the opening time!!!

 

 

We have  singing and a share question  before we split into our groups.  Examples:

-which is better the top or bottom of the bun

-the farthest you have lived from "here"

-how old where you when you started wearing make up

-if you owned a restaurant what would your specialty be

-favourite olympic sport to watch.

Love it, i do!  I have attended CRC churches in Seattle the past few years, and have recently moved into an assisted living house - with aprox. 59 neighbors.  There is a church nearby, in fact right across the parking-lot - in the building next door. I am sa d to report, tho', that this church is sold-out to the poisonous word of faith gospel; ANOTHER GOSPEL that st Paul cautioned the church about in the opening paragraphs of Galatians.  

As a believer of some 30+ years, i'd much prefer starting a small-group fellowship - over directing my neighbors to a false fellowship; the end result only being having them devoured by the wolves next door! Heavens no, i won't have it; not on my watch!   

I have listed the Awake Church as my home body, and am also acquainted with Randy Rowland, and his staff at the Sanctuary Church. I'd be thrilled to have either body provide the leadership to enable me to carry out this mission. 

Thanks, and blessings 2 all; SRG

Hi Meredith, Have you found your ride? If not, I would like to help! Could you email, I have a couple of questions for you. Here's my email:  shuizenga@crcna.org

I am a Coffee Break Co-ordinator from Neerlandia Alberta and have registered for Inspire.  I would like to fly to London (direct - as there is no direct flight to detriot from edmonton.)  I am wondering if there are any women from London going to inspire that would consider giving me a ride.

Meredith Van Dijk

Hi Diane! Brookside CRC is in Grand Rapids, MI. Here's a link to the church website. Thanks! 

Where is Brookside CRC located?

 

Great idea! 

Another church paired younger people with seniors to write their stories. Each month they discussed a different decade. Someone researched the big events, politics and music of the decade to prime the pump. After the short presentation the senior answered some interview questions. They ended with an event where the stories were presented to families. 

Keep the ideas coming!

 

    Learning on-line together can take shape in many forms . This article was mostly geared to coffee Break, but in our church we are encouraging people to participate in the  Fellowhip 1 program  and also" In Fellowship."

   Especially participation in this program for older people it seems to be a threat e.g. loosing identity. There is another aspect....

. Many seniors (if they do have a computer)  are not familiar how to use certain products.,and terms, all they want is being able to e-mail their relatives

  That's why I would be a promoter to take a few young people and assign them to a few seniors not only to show and do it for them, but to genuinely show interest by encouraging them and teaching them !

The senior can make a cup of tea and listen to the interest of the student/teacher and vice versa theecipient can grow from the wisdom of the elderly and lavish them  them with a visit in their often lonely  existence!

 

A win/win situation!

 

Penny Tolsma,

Member of Fleetwood CRC

Love the materials available. have used them in prisons for 16 years with great success.

Prison is my men's group and Bible study all in one.

 That is a very sweet story.

What a beautiful story.

Well, I suppose I'm most interested in how people are approaching Story Hour/Little Lambs. We have all the curriculum, but I have a hard time really using more than a general outline because I tend to find it a bit dated. I was wondering if anyone had any different ideas or ways that they're incorporating the actual curriculum or if other people are doing something similar to the way I've been doing it. Also, how do other people recruit volunteers to help?

I guess I don't really have anything specific about Coffee Break itself, though I am interested in what people might do if groups start to get too big (and how many people leaders typically have in their groups) and the groups have existed for a while so people have become attached...

The Winter Coffee Break Newsletter will feature some innovations. You will find the articles on this Network site. Stay tuned. 

What kinds of new ideas are you hoping to hear about?

though anything would be interesting really 

Just wondering if there have been any thoughts on any of this? Most specifically story hour/little lambs...

Thanks for great words of encouragement!

I really should have mentioned that we have some great Story Hour material to use.  We need to give a lot of credit to the author of it because without if we would be pretty lost.  Sometimes we simplify things in order to fit everything in our morning, but the material is a fantastic resource -- the Bible story, crafts, songs, etc.  Thanks to all who make it possible and the support we get in reaching lives for Jesus.

Rosie

 

In my small group, we usually begin with snacks (yum!) and small talk. Before jumping into the Bible study (which is currently follow-up questions based on the sermon), we take a moment to first check who was able to be at church/listen to the sermon. For those who missed the message, we give a quick overview and usually read the Bible verses that the sermon was based on.  

In the past, we started each group with a great joke!

 

Getting church-goers to become engaged in scripture. What a novel idea.

One might start by removing all of the Bibles from the church pews. Have folks bring their own to worship that they can mark up and wear out. Smart phones will finally have a place in worship as parishioners -- especially young people -- become exposed to their favorite Bible app.

We as Reformed Christians have become lazy when it comes to opening up scripture. We've been conditioned to depend on the pew Bible, and that -- sad to say -- if often the only exposure that we have to scripture through the course of the week. We need to get trained to actually choose our favorite Bible translation and then take it with us to worship, to Small Groups, to work, wherever.

Biblical engagement is a huge issue within our churches, simply because we haven't grown up with the need to have an intimate relationship with our very own Bible. Without that intimate relationship, how can we expect to have meaningful small group discussions around biblical content?

 

 

 

I am using Seeking God's Face for the third year, and I love it!  The scriptures are so effectively related to the beautiful prayers which also refer to one of our creeds or confessions. I use Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions, also available from Faith Alive, as a companion to Seeking God's Face. It's made me more aware of all that's in our confessions and creeds, some of which I haven't reviewed since high school catechism classes. I highly recommend use of both books for personal devotions. 

I wonder if the under 35's are wanting to come back to a simpler, real experience of church based on conversations and relationships rather than video based materials.

 

In my setting, I'd say we need to be informal and conversational. Being curious about the Word together leads to remarkable discoveries and conversations about them. I'd also say that it's important to meet consistently and agree to being accountable to one another.

I'm so glad we get to make us of helpful technology to do Coffee Break training. As one of the presenters I'm wondering, "What questions would you like to have addressed on these webinars?"

My guess is they are at work - a quick search of the coffee breaks in Grand Rapids lists the meeting times as weekday mornings.

Our group has asked to meet thru the whole summer!  They are a group of ladies with no church home, except the occasional visit on Sunday morning to our church.  But they LOVE Coffee Break, and want to continue.  These ideas are great for us, as it suggests more informal settings and unless it rains, the outside sounds like a great idea.  Thanks for the article.  JLL

posted in: Watering Your Group

Thanks Bonnie. That's the idea behind clusters - we are not doing our work alone. There is strength and synergy when we work together. amen!

Hi all. It's easy to post an idea or question. Join the conversation!

posted in: Watering Your Group

There is another organization using the word "cluster" that also is working to connect churches on the East Coast and elsewhere. It's an ecumenical movement to end child sexual abuse and it arises out of the work of Linda Crockett and the Samaritan Safe Church initiative. It started in Pennsylvania (after the Penn State scandal) and is now spreading to other areas as well. Many churches are joining this movement of those who are taking a stand against child sexual abuse. Current research says that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys experience sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18. Many believe that it's time to stand up and say, this is NOT OK! The idea behind the "cluster" is that we are not called to do our work alone; there is a strength and a synergy that is only possible when we partner with others, whether it's other CRC congregations, or other Christians, or others with a similar vision. We're stronger in "clusters" whether it's to end child sexual abuse, strengthen congregations, or become effective coffee break leaders. If you'd like more information about the Samaritan Safe Church movement - please contact Safe Church Ministry; maybe there is a "cluster" in your area.

Hey, Sam, this looks really good.  Go you!  You've got a good thing going and I like it that you are keeping it fresh.  Keep your faithful followers posted on developments!   Thanks for your work on this.

posted in: Big News!

Our church has also experienced the struggle with study material for Coffee Break and small groups.  People don't want to put anything INTO the process, they want to come and receive the information because they're too busy to study at home.  But I found that the times I've learned the most is when I was the leader - I HAD to put into the group in order to receive.  If we put into, we receive, and our faith grows.  

This sounds terrific, Keith! My brother is a CRC pastor in Toronto and meets with a group of business people for a lunchtime discussion. I don't know what materials he uses, but I believe the concept is the same. I'll have to get more details from him. But there's one CRC example anyway. :) 

I will try to learn more about the CCBF network and curriculum. 

Thanks!

Hundreds of Christian business leaders -- men and women -- meet monthly across Canada in small groups over breakfast.

They meet to connect their faith to their vocation. The Canadian Christian Business Federation (CCBF) is a 30-year-old network involving almost 4,000 Christians across Canada. It has deep Reformed roots but it has developed into a wonderful ecumenical gathering of Christians who deal with business issues from a biblical perspective. This isn't Bible study; it's leadership development but it is solidly biblical. The foundation for these monthly breakfast discussions -- and there are 35 groups across the country -- is the NIV Leadership Study Bible.

There is a five-year curriculum, dealing with everything from integrity and obedience to God to stress management, courage and risk-taking, communication skills and problem solving.

Among the participants are men and women involved in business, more than a dozen Christian non-profits and a half dozen Christian colleges and universities who connect their business students with business leaders.

A growing number of churches are creating their own CCBF groups, recognizing that the church does very little to provide faith support for their members who are in business or the professions. Interestingly, almost all of these churches are evangelical, Pentecostal or Assembly of God. There isn't a CRC among them, even though the discussion materials focus on the very Reformed notion that 'everything belongs to God' and that 'if you're in business, you're in ministry'.

Just as there are Coffee Break groups for women, I would love to see even one CRC consider creating a small group for the men and women in their congregation who are involved in business or the professions.

While I embrace the notion that we need to have more small groups that deal with Bible study, we also need to have small groups that practically apply those biblical principles to the challenges facing the Christian business community: How do you balance your corporate long range plan with the will of God? How do you handle power and influence? If all that we have belongs to God, isn't tithing robbing God of the other 90 per cent?

Keith Knight

Executive Director

Canadian Christian Business Federation

This is, I think, a tough issue. I agree, and I think we all would agree, that we need more engagement with the Bible. I've been participating in small groups for many years, and I still find it difficult to stick to Bible study with a group (and without, but that's a different topic!). 

One common challenge I find over and over is your bullet point "Group members come prepared to participate." Even with the best of intentions, people just have a hard time doing the preparation needed - reading the material before the meeting, or filling in answers to questions, etc. It just doesn't happen! When I have seen at least some success with Bible study in a group, it's been with books or guides that can work with having people "read" the material at the meetings. Either the material is very brief and able to be read aloud together at each meeting, or the leader has prepared ahead by finding key passages for the group to read together, enough to facilitate discussion. Like it or not, that's been the reality over and over.

Today I read a quote from John Suk's Twitter feed where he said, "People look for community before they set off on a search for God." It made me think of a recent decision I had made regarding the small group I am leading. Right now I have a lot of other commitments at our church and Christian school. I found myself really dreading the preparation I'd have to do for leading our small group Bible study, so I changed the format to be only a social/community format. We meet for coffee and dessert and share and prayer. At a later point I'll probably go back to including Bible study, but for right now this gives us a community of supportive, caring fellow believers.

I would not call it pure Bible study, but I have seen some success in a kind of theological book club that I was a member of. All of us find theological books interesting, and we had a book club where we read only those. Now that worked all right. And it speaks to another of your bullet points, "Group members understand the purpose of the group is Bible discovery. Relationship building and support will take place but are not the primary purpose." We were there to discuss books we read; it was not a small group or community in the sense that we would often think of them.

These are some random thoughts of mine. I would be interested to hear what others have to say and have experienced, too.

It's been almost two years since my last post on leading an ESL Bible Study. In some ways a lot has changed since then, and in other ways, nothing has changed.

What hasn't changed is that God continues to bless our church with Korean sisters who have a real hunger for God's Word. Year after year I wonder if the group will carry on because so often the women return to Korea with their children after a year of English studies. But without fail, new women join, and it has been an absolute joy and privilege to be a part of their faith journey.

What has changed is that I no longer seek curriculum in leading our Wednesday morning studies. Reading my previous posts, I'm reminded how much of a time consuming effort it was to prepare. Since then, I've learned to "let go" of the lessons and allow them to lead themselves. When it's clear that another season of Bible study is before me, God shows me a vision of sorts of what the road is going to be; what Spiritual truths we're going to be learning in the coming months. I can see both the beginning of the journey as well as the goal. Then, week by week, I sit down behind my computer and type up the scripture verses and deeper questions that will channel our discussions towards the finishing line. Each week the lessons write themselves, and I choose a song that we read through and listen to to accompany the lesson in order to drive the point home.

It's not like me to just sit back and watch things unfold without me being tempted to help the Spirit along, but God has taught me these past two years that He is very capable in leading these women to the foot of the cross.

As always, it would be wonderful if there were more opportunities to encourage one another as ESL leaders. Perhaps having a session for ESL leaders at the Diaconal "Day of Encourgement" in October could be considered.

posted in: ESL Coffee Break

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