My wife came home from leading our church's youth group last night with a revelation, "There really isn't a sense of urgency among our youth and church to reach lost people." I had to agree with her...
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"People resist mission because they are under-discipled, but they are also under-discipled because of the absence of any missional challenge. " The problem is, we’ve become used to seeing discipleship as a passive thing as we sit and enjoy one another as we “huddle and cuddle” together.
Imagine this. You’ve been in an ongoing spiritual discussion with someone and are asked, “So what is the Gospel?” How would you answer? I had a pretty pat answer in mind until I spent time reflecting on the first four verses of Isaiah 61. This passage points out a bigger understanding of the Gospel than I’m used to thinking
Rather than evaluate the success of a small group by the percentage of a church’s people involved, I’m much more likely to ask questions about how people are demonstrating discipleship and mission in their lives. How are people growing in spiritual disciplines? How many are inviting friends to try out the group? How deep are the relationships within the group? How does the group care for one another and their neighbors?
Most people don't deal with conflict well or fight well in most relationships, not just marriage. One of the biggest reasons for that is the inability to listen well, especially when it comes to conflict. We're usually too busy thinking about how we will respond or why we're right and the other person is wrong, to even consider the other person's reasoning.
Having been a small group geek for more than twenty years I knew that there were a lot of models out there that might fit, there was a ton of curriculum we could use -- some of it really focused on discipleship and mission. But I knew we needed to start with something simple and easy to work with ...
People approach small groups differently with different motivations. What about you or people in your group? Alan Danielson outlines how people approach small groups. And the approach makes a huge difference in both the group's growth and a person's spiritual formation...
I have two books to recommend for churches who already have small groups or who are considering starting new groups. They are challenging yet practical but extremely insightful and will be a valuable resource for any church who take their small group ministry seriously.
I believe our small groups are the place where this type of discipling community happens and often begins. But the Holy Spirit is the key player in the formation of such communities. I realize that our CRC tradition has typically downplayed the power and transformational work of the Spirit. And while that is changing...
Sorry I've been out of the loop as of late -- vacation and all that. I did have a chance to check out some great stuff on YouTube recently that really challenges our look at disciple-making and consumerism. Alan Hirsch is spot on with his assessment of our current cultural mindset that it detrimental to making disciples...
Some call habits such as prayer, fasting, scripture memory, simplicity and solitude and silence “weight lifting for the soul.” They can be used to build up the strength of my soul in order to become more like Jesus. Maybe this is what Paul was referring to when he told Timothy to “train yourself to be godly.” (I Tim. 4:7)
I received some interesting responses after our recent prayer service. A number of people found it difficult to pray that the Holy Spirit would instill in them a passion for the lost. To pray that prayer can be scary when your focus on being a disciple has been more about being a faithful church attender than to follow Jesus into the big bad world to share the Gospel.
Here's a church really challenging the status quo of what church is supposed to be. Jeff Vanderstelt, pastor of the Soma Communities seeks to be a missional community. It's a challenge for all of us. This is the stuff we need to be talking about in our churches. Check it out.
It's great when you come across some great small group curriculum. But it's even better when it's FREE. Scott Boren's book Missional Small Groups has really been gathering ground and very worth reading. Check out the curriculum that he's developed helping groups to be groups and impact their communities.
As I observe community life around me, I see that over time groups can tend to be more “exclusive” rather than “inclusive.” There seems to be a tendency to gradually build up walls around our group when deciding who fits and who doesn’t. Rather than reflecting Jesus’ inclusive love toward those around us, we find reasons to be exclusive.
Without a vision and missional purpose, programs in the church become extremely self-serving and have minimal benefit to the overall mission of the church to reach the lost and disciple them... Small groups in the life of the church ministry are no different. I'm reposting this from January because of the crazy amount of consulting I've been doing on this topic.
For many years within the small group realm there has been a lot of discussion on whether small groups should be open or closed. Perhaps our default mode especially in our CRC communities is to err on the side of being comfortable and thus short-circuiting true discipleship... This repost has a lot o reads but would be better with some discussion :-)
Asking good questions is almost an art form in my opinion. I'm talking about well-phrased, intentional, smart questions that open people up to get to the heart of the matter. Smart, well-placed questions can take your small group to a whole new level of sharing and growth.