Resource, Article

If you're in charge of small groups at your church I believe you will find this helpful.  I've had to learn these skills the hard way and they do work, believe me.

NOTE: the links in this article.  I know you'll appreciate those as well.

akd.

...
November 14, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

It seems the my consulting conversations as of late tend to focus around programmatic thinking.  There a more and more churches that are either just now beginning to start and develop small groups or are reassessing them.  Frankly I'm surprised that some churches are just beginning small groups...

October 31, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

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. 

October 17, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

I haven’t seen any mention of a Women’s Ministry or women’s perspective in the CRC Network or the Banner, yet more than 50% of the members of the CRC are women. Rarely do I see anything other than Coffee Break in the CRC. This is a wonderful ministry but is that all Women’s Ministry is?

October 10, 2011 0 9 comments
Resource, Article

When I was a Youth Pastor I became fully certified as an instructor/trainer for Son Life Youth Ministries, a philosophy of youth ministry that was meant to help leaders and youth pastors focus the ministry to build disciples for Christ...

September 28, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

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.

September 12, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

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.

August 29, 2011 0 3 comments
Blog

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)

August 23, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Every person in your group has different expectations for your group, whether they realize it or not. Some folks were in a group before and long for the good old days of comfortable koinonia. Others were over-sold on groups: “You’ll make your new best friend.” For whatever reason they joined or...

August 14, 2011 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

When individuals are able to make a meaningful contribution, feel a sense of belonging and connect significantly with others, the result is community. Ideally, small groups should provide a fertile environment for life change, but that’s only going to happen as the church rediscovers the...

August 1, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

Summer is a time for relaxing, catching your breath or maybe some fish, getting out into the great out doors and DREAMING.  Think of the possibilities for your ministry especially small groups.  What are your dreams?  I'd love to hear them....

July 25, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Churches who are serious about their ministry effectiveness value evaluation and honest criticism. And I believe through my own experience, that churches who have regular evaluation of staff and ministries are far more effective than those churches that don't evaluate. So if you want your small...

July 5, 2011 0 0 comments
Blog

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...

June 23, 2011 0 4 comments
Resource, Article

"Our small group just doesn’t have the energy it used to.” Seeming genuinely perplexed, he continued, ”We’re really not sure what we should do. We’ve decided to take a break this fall. But maybe it’s best to just move on? It just feels stale. Any ideas?”

Maybe you’ve had this...

May 27, 2011 0 5 comments
Q&A

I co-lead a small group of long time Christians interested in studying the book of Job as part of our group meetings.  Can anyone recommend specific study material, preferably from a Reformed perspective.

Thanks, Bill

May 24, 2011 0 4 comments
Blog

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...

May 23, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

While staying with our Korean friends in Shiwe, they told us of the powerful way their small groups work by developing deep community and becoming inviting to their non-Christian friends. And although many within their communities are against Christianity -- thinking it is a Western religion -- there is an openness...

May 9, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

In the life of any Small Group, there will come a time when the Small Group Leader will have concerns and struggles as to how to handle difficult people within their groups. With many different personalities attending a small group each week, the Small Group Leader must have a firm handle on how...

April 25, 2011 0 12 comments
Blog

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.

April 18, 2011 0 3 comments
Blog

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...

March 28, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

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 ...

March 21, 2011 0 9 comments
Blog

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.

March 15, 2011 0 8 comments
Discussion Topic

Does anyone know of a Bible Study that can be used for an entire Church that helps people grow in a deeper relationship with the Lord? That will cause them to be more involved in their relationship with God.  As well as cause them to live lives more abundantly in Jesus.  I find there is a real...

March 9, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

Do you have a plan for discipleship at your church?  What role do small groups play in it?  At a recent classis meeting, we tried to have this discussion with some interesting results.  You may find this discussion helpful for your classis and church as well...

March 8, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

It's ironic to think that as a church we expect children through adults to be taught and developed into disciples but don't often put our finances and energies into developing strong leaders.  At least that is what I have seen in many churches and what I have experienced up to this point in my current church...

February 21, 2011 0 3 comments

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Hi Allen, 

   The use of small groups as you pointed out, are not without issue's. When I was a member of small group, I always thought there should be a open membership. Some group evolve into clique's which exactly the opposite of what they were designed to address.

  How you  accomplish this is a rotation every so often. This could help to spread the community within the church.

  They also need purpose. Your books  that you recommend cover this well.

  Just a note, I never realized how organized and supported small groups are at a lot of the churches represented here. When  I was a member, there was not much leadership or contact. Maybe I just didn't knoe about it.

Thanks Ken

A couple to add

On Philosophy & Beginning, the book Activate by Nelson Searcy. Our church adapted this approach and it's going well.

I just happened to visit http://www.smallgroups.com/ last week, and from what I can tell the philosophy is quite different from the Activate approach, but it might be useful for some churches.

I saw you mention Sticky Church in another thread and I might have to check that out. Larry Osborne's church is in a neighboring city to mine, and I've visited there a few times. They are very serious about getting people into small groups, although their strong won't-take-no-for-an-answer pressure to join a group was a turnoff for me.

Nicole, so sorry for getting back to you on this so late.

Are you a small group leader or director for your church?  You're right about the disconnect between the lives we live and the one's we should be living.  There are many church-wide campaigns for what you are asking, but they are only as effective as your church's discipleship plan and system allow them to be.  If you've been reading some of my latest blogs you'll know what I'm talking about: Are Small Groups Just Another Program? Thinking of a Discipled Person in particular.

Probably the single most effective thing that changes people's lives in small groups is when they learn to serve and do mission together.  Combining that with a solid discussion and study as well as sharing testimonies of how God impacted their lives is key to move people toward spiritual growth.  Oh yeah, the pastor and leadership have to be in small groups as well as the small group ministry champions in order for it all to work well.  Follow up is also essential after a church-wide campaign.

Have you spoken to your pastor and leadership about your concerns?

 

Allen

Lions, Tigers and Bears Oh My

 

Ken

posted in: Cat? Turtle? Dog?

Amen to all that's been said here about SBSG's!  We've been using them now for a couple of years and it has been one of the  best things we have done to revive our small groups.  My teaching partner and I meet each week to put together the questions for that week's study.  There is some continuity that way no matter who is teaching the questions and the format are relatively consistent.

I love the way SBSG's get more folks thinking and moving in the same direction.  Since we tend to do 4 - 6 week series they are focusing on a specific topic for a longer period of time.

You are most likely correct. I have great open theological discussions with my kids and their friends. I find their incite  about life's issue's to be pleasantly simple sometimes. I think Allen it could be achieved but it would require the strong desire to listen to their wisdom and folly. you have to humble yourself so they feel confident to speak their mind. But like you said I too don't believe it will happen because we are all pretty broken.

Ken

We've tried it in a previous church. But the truth is both the adults and teens would rather not discuss their lives together. Having been a youth pastor for many years I couldn't see it working. Youth are dealing with vastly different issues of which they don't feel very comfortable discussing amongst themselves let alone with a bunch of adults who generally like to tell them how to live their lives. Our youth have their own small groups discussing things more pertinent to their concerns and in a way that connects with them. We do get adults and youth together from time to time for kind of round table discussions. We get them involved in other ways.

I personally don't think that just getting the youth and young adults into mixed groups will change anything. It's a whole church systemic and mindset thing that's creating a gap. That's a whole different discussion altogether.

Hey Guys ,

  Have any of your churches tried some sort small group with teens and adults. We seem to have a difficult time keeping our youth as stats say our average age is 52. I thought this could be a way to teach them what we believe in community setting.

Ken

Mike,

It's great that you've gotten some small groups happening at your church.  I can see how it could be a little difficult when you have a number of people doing the preaching.  Having a set format for developing your study guide helps tremendously with that.  My suggestion, if you haven't alread, is to make sure the preaching team and staff are on the same page as to what you're trying to accomplish with the groups in terms of end result as to how people respond to the study.  We are very focused on discipleship so we make sure that the application questions really take people beyond loosely applying the biblical text to their lives.  I've been told that my questions really challenge people to share their spiritual and personal struggles and then to receive accountability from the group.

It may be helpful too for everyone to have a copy of the small group leaders best friend, The Seredipity Small Groups bible.  There are questions for every pericope in the bible broken into three sections; starters, dig and application.  I always have it open when I'm putting studies together.  It can be helpful when you're not sure where to go with it or need a few helpful questions to include.

I'm happy to send you some sample copies of what I use here.  Just let me know.

Keep up the good work.

Allen

Phil,

That's awesome. That format is a great idea.  We've just decided to go the "window" route too.  People enjoy that.  A few groups prefer not to break too long.  But I think having seasons gives people a bit of breathing room like you said.

 

Love you book btw.  Freda and I have been using through Lent.

We started sermon-based small group studies about two years ago at River Park CRC - probably the best discipleship moves we've made in some time.  Beyond the discipleship piece, it's brilliant in it's community-building capacity.  Literally, everyone (well, all who are in a small group) is on the same page, interacting with the same materials, wrestling with common questions.  So what if you're in a different small group - you can still interact with other church members about the studies because you're all working off of the same page.  We also created three seasons or windows (each 8 weeks in length).  We realized that people commit in shorter bursts of commitment - so we have a fall, winter and spring small group window.  It allows for a "breather" time and if you want you can move to another group.  We created a basic template for each study so there is some uniformity in each study, no matter on who is preaching (at RPC, the preaching staff would created the study together).

Thanks, Allen (both for this post and you're previously promoting Sermon-based groups to me).

Our congregation has 5 new small groups this year (600+ member church). Two of the groups chose to do Sermon-based study guides. The other three groups have leaders who are also staff, so they each went their own way. Those groups did however put a much greater burden on the leaders.

Of the sermon study groups, one was initially hands-off about much of anything other than socializing. The sermon study guides have helped give the group a focus which they were still open to (no small thing!). The other group, which was very diverse in age and ethnicity, has also done well with the sermon study guides.

The challenge we face has been more in creating the sermon study guides, particularly because we have three pastors who are in the regular preaching schedule (and a fourth who preaches 2-3 times a year). The sermon study guides have a different tone depending on who is preaching, just like our sermons. I haven't heard any complaints about it, but I have noticed the difference in the questions. Sometimes I wonder if this is good or not.

In Christ,

Mike 

I like the idea of sermon based small groups. We should include the youth so we can witness our faith and connect to them.

Thanks

Ken

I have found praying together really connects people on a deeper level...  this discussion started with expanding on the communication concept from a ''marriage built to last" study, and a very interesting and powerful statistic related to that is, that for couples that pray together on a consistent basis (like 10 minutes a day) the divorce rate drops from 1 in 2 to 1 in 1150...that's a very powerful reason to spend time praying together, especially with your spouse.

One wife shared recently, that the more time her husband spends in prayer, the more she likes him...now that can be taken many different ways ;), but we do know, prayer does make us better believers, not better than the next person, but it makes us, individually, a better believer/person than where we would be without prayer.

posted in: Give Ear

Hi Sharon,

  You got me. I should have said "some" women. It is sure easy to stereotype groups without thinking it through. You miss so much of relational contact when your online and I think that is a major reason we need to parse our words when we talk online.

 Anyway I want to say you are correct about women when I thought about it. Thanks for the reminder and the kudo about my comments.. Sharon, as you probably figured out , I think out of the box because of  illness and at some times desperation. I have a tough road and Jesus has been my only consistent  companion when it comes to the path I am on. I am a pretty poor example of what a  Christian should be, but I have a lot of company.

   As you you can see I am tangential at best and detached at worst (literaly). But if you could know me in person I am a lot of fun. I love to banter with friends or strangers because I like diversity and how other people think. People approach a social interaction with idea of boundaries but I find that within reasonable context people are looking for safe, positive communication with most people. Sorry Sharon I have so much to say.

Ken

posted in: Give Ear

Hi Ken --

If it makes you feel better, not *all* women are better at non-verbals, etc.  I, for one, have had a lot to learn when it comes to listening well, and responding to the message behind the words.

PS, when I peruse various Network threads, I often see your name.  Your insights are always worth reading, and often challenge me to think differently.  So thanks for that!

-- Sharon

posted in: Give Ear

Allen,

   That is for sure. I have reel myself in all the time. Did you ever notice how women are better at this unless we really concentrate? Anyway thanks for the kudo. I really needed it today.

Ken

posted in: Give Ear

Ken,

You are so right that most of our communication is non-verbal.  I have a little pie chart in my office that I show couples who I counsel and it's in the marriage series I mentioned as well.  It breaks down communication into three areas; Body Language and Facial Expressions, Tone of Voice, and Words.  Experts say  that we communicate 55% through our body language and facial expressions, about 38% through our tone of voice and only 7% through our words.

In active listening we need to consider all those areas.  Listening encompasses a whole lot more than just words.  But my point is that we don't listen very well as a general practice.  We tend to miss the words and are poor at asking clarification questions to get past some of the other body and tone communication that's going on.  We tend to just respond.

posted in: Give Ear

Hi Allen,

   I find communication within relationships is almost entirely non -verbal." Taking out the garbage" can mean a lot of different things depending on context and expressions. In groups, It is extremely important to have good situational awareness to everything being said and expressed by peoples actions. If you pay attention you hear much more than words which are not always what the person is really talking about . You have to actively encourage them with your questions or responses till a agreement is reached on what they are saying.  Just like in a trial,finding their  motive for the statement  is the key to understanding other people Motive is usually never communicated and only exposed by listening closely and observation .Now before you comment on the statement, think about what your response is designed to do (motive).

 This may sound complicated but we all do it to some degree but rarly relieze we are. Thinking about conversation with awareness that we are all basicly the same in our needs and fears. This frame of mind prevents a lot of conflict and opens your mind to different views. This is what is going wrong in public discourse  of the present day. Some how people are being convinced that other people are totaly different.  There is no reasoning in that approach.

Ken

posted in: Give Ear

Great idea Gary,

You are welcome to start a separate page on the Forum for that if you wish and kick us off.

 

I think it would be very helpful to have a page where small group leaders can list and evaluate resources/study materials they have used.  Although Faith Alive does a good job of producing resources, it is rather limited in what it can give to our church community.  I would like to see a page where small group leaders can give the title of the resource, the author, the theological bent, and an evaluation of how it worked well and what others may want to know if they use it (e.g. it didn't work well in a newly formed group, or it works well in a church-wide study).  It would be good if that page also allowed others to comment on that particular resource so that we could have more than one evaluation of the same resource.

We have a binder in our resource room in the church with evaluation forms for small group leaders to fill out, but we would like to be able to see what other churches are doing.  Let's pool our experience.

Wow that is great that you promote the library and resources. Librarians for the most part I am finding do not feel supported from the other church ministry groups. Our small group ministry has just asked me for a list of resources and was suprised when I gave them such a long list. 

Listing, compiling and maintaining a good library does take a significant amount of time and research to compile. That is one reason I belong to a Church Library association. To get help and support in Library as a ministry. 

Steve,

Much of what I'm talking about is a general mindset and attitude toward the importance of training leaders and raising up future ones.

I think there is an overall mindset that every leader needs to gain and have in order to lead effectively -- what is the missional vision and philosophy of the church and how does what I do fit into it?  It's still important for every ministry in the church to have some specific practical training for its teachers and leaders, but I also believe that everyone needs to be on the same page as far as the overall ministry of the church.

There is great training material out there for elders and deacons, Sunday School and other church leaders and teachers.

 

I put this up primarily to enourage small group leaders, directors, coaches and councils to think hard about developing leaders -- in general -- that developing leadership is an imperative.

posted in: Developing Leaders

Al

This stuff resonates with me. It took a while for me to realize it but I believe developing strong leaders it one of the tasks many churches have failed at and I am as much to blame. When I was in a leadership role I thought very little about developing the next leader. When I stepped back it struck me what I really should have been doing was just that. What I have learned since then is that mentoring the next person who will take on your leadership role is one of the characteristics of a good leader.

If you live in an area where there is an active Leadership Development Network get your potential leaders involved in it. LDNs are great places to develop leaders who in turn can teach others.

Larry

posted in: Developing Leaders

Are you developing people to be leaders in specific roles such as Cadet counselors or Sunday School teachers? Or is it more of a generalized education of "What is a leader?"  Also, are you doing anything specifically to train and develop future elders and deacons? When I have more time I'm going to check out the links in your posting above.

Steve

posted in: Developing Leaders

Jo, Great topic for discussion.

When I was a small group pastor at a previous church, I made it a point of knowing what was in the library to let our groups know. I stumbled upon it by accident when I went to check out the church library and discovered a host of resources. I created a list of valuable resources for our groups that could be found in the library and my office. Then we would talk about them at our leaders meetings as we discussed what groups were studying or wanted to study.

I think it's important for churches to have some place to pool resources and get a list to people. Personally I think a well-run small group ministry knows what each small group is studying at any given time and may even preview material to make sure it is soundly within our Reformed world view.

I preview material regularly -- espec DVD study material -- regularly so I have good suggestions for our groups.

BTW, we don't currently keep small group material in the library since it's too small. I've reserved a big section in my study for those materials which is always accessible. Most of our groups are doing sermon based study at this time.

This is good - very true. The leader plays such a key role. Asking questions that don't have easy answers (when you as a leader are searching rather than already knowing an answer and looking for your group to say the "right" thing). Being willing to share your own struggles. Bringing up an idea that we don't think about often, and allowing space for everyone in the group to have their own opinions and disagree with respect about it. In other words, it's just as you said; if the leader appears to have it all together and know all the answers, no one will be able to relate to that, it will not encourage others to be vulnerable, growth will be stunted. 

I've found that good small group materials can also be helpful. Our small group is using something called "The Gospel Centered Life". It's helping us to take a closer more honest look at ourselves and reveal things that we wouldn't have otherwise. It includes Bible study, an article for discussion and an exercise all around a theme. And the focus is on God and His Grace - what we all need.  http://www.whm.org/gcl .

posted in: The Art of Exposure

I liked Community series because it has a good framework for what the expectations of a small group is and the benefits of the small group.  Also has practical ways for people to begin to learn their story.  You can hand it to new leaders and they should be pretty set.  The DVD material is crafted well and it also has full sermons that they are based on as well.

Just picked up the Tangible Kingdom Primer, it looks like a pretty interesting group / individual study as well.

Brad,

That is a very good study too.

Another one I just previewed that came out from Lifeway is called "Building Biblical Community" by Bill Donahue and Steve Gladen.

I'm excited to give it a go.  The DVD sessions are wonderfully solid and the workbook is very challenging.

 

Andy Stanley's Community is a good video series is a pretty good intro to small groups as well.

This was good for a laugh! There were great one-liners that  cleverly expose our discipleship inertia.  My favourites...

"You'll never hear us use the term 'unpack that thought', we're sure it's packed away for a really good reason'".

"Thanks for doing my taxes, you have great accountability"

"I had a growth removed last week, it wasn't pleasant" 

"We avoid conflict conflict like the plague... who wants cake?!"

"This is the only outreach you'll ever have to do".

I could almost write the whole skit. :) Thanks for sharing.

FYI,

Here's the link to the Small Group Resources forum topic Allen mentioned:

Small Group Resources

Hey Forbes,

Not sure if that's your name, but hi.

In regard to your question about discipleship small groups and starting from scratch, I've posted a new forum topic that will stay at top called Small Group Resources.  You will find, what I believe to be some of the best resources; books and websites available.  Other's may post some too.

As far as starting from scratch, I'd be happy to consult with you over the phone and email.  There are many factors that determine a person's or church's avenue for beginning a small group(s).

You can contact me through my profile. There are a number of avenues there. :-)

Blessings on your endeavors.

Hey Allen,

 

Just wondering if you can recommend some resources (in print or online) for how to lead a good, disciplship based small group.

 

Thanks--I know you have tons of experience in the field and would love to get some input on how to do it from scratch.

 

 

Forbes2000

Wow Bernetta, it sounds like you are in a great small group; one that is willing to expose themselves.  That is so valuable and vital to our spiritual growth. And I know that when a group gets missional and starts serving others, it gets contagious and you grow even more.  Great stuff.  Praise God for your group -- a group that gets it.

My wife and I were very involved with a Friendship Ministry years ago in Grand Junction, CO.  We had so many students that the only way they could work was divding into small groups.  There was no possiblility of one on one.  I think most of the students enjoyed it.  Their was a lot of peer learning going on there.  And prayer time was awesome.

Thanks for sharing.

I belong to a small group and have belonged for about four years.  I can't begin to tell you how much I've grown in faith in that time.  I feel I can tell my group anything and they will be understanding and supportive, be it with prayer, advise, or physical help with things I may need done in my home.  I am so blessed.  It really puts actions to the word "disciple".  In turn I try to be supportive of each of the other members in an way I can.  It is a blessing to be able to help others too.

A thought that came to me when Mark commented on programs in CRC is that the Friendship group that I facilitate in our church is in fact less a program than it is a small group.  We have been meeting for about ten years and everyone who is able to communicate verbally feels they can discuss anything with the group during our time of group prayer, when each is asked if they have any thing we should pray about.  Most disabled are not shy about sharing, and those that are we encourage to talk about whatever is on their minds, by asking questions that they can answer with a simple yes or no.

Thanks Allen! Great stuff.

Don't have anything to add.  Just loving this discussion.  It gets at really basic things:  how do we get discipled? what is "church"? 

I agree with you there, too.  We're currently imagining what it would look like for our children-youth-adult transitions to be increasing amounts of small group presence in those ministries.  So many people have noted the problem of hemorraging people between transition points - children to youth or youth to adult, etc.  Maybe the problem is that our ministries are too dissimilar and not comprehensive enough.  What if we started kids at 3 years old with the idea of prepping them for small group discipleship slowly but surely over time?  How can we teach from the outset that the norm of our spiritual community is small group discipleship?

I often wonder at how strange of a phenomenon Sunday mornings are - a bunch of people faced forward singing songs and listening to someone talk at them.  Yet, everyone seems to accept this as basic to the life of the Christian.  We've created that phenomenon through intentional teaching and modeling.  How can we make small group dischipleship just as normal?

Mark, it seems that we are kindred spirits especially in regard to so many areas of ministry.  I should get you to write a guest article for this section of the Network.

I certainly agree with you about the traditional mindset and the fear factor.  And you are right about needing programs for certain demographic groups like the children, youth etc., but even some of those groups can have elements of what it's like to be in a small group as well so that by the time they reach adulthood, learning and developing in discipleship via the small group is natural for them.

We are also working toward making small groups the main avenue in connecting and growing as a disciple. 

 

Well said Mark.

Love it, Allen.  I think the key thing that stops most churches, especially in our tradition, from becoming alive to the idea of small groups is fear.  That may seem odd, since small groups are, by nature, small and unformidable, but I think its true.  The base fear of small groups is that people know your business, know your deep thoughts and struggles, know your pains and weaknesses.  The irony, of course, is that this is also what makes small groups so great in the life of the Christian.

In my opinion (maybe also in yours) the BEST way to make small groups work as the core contigent of the church is to eliminate programs that would compete with it (ie, the Simple Church) method.  While there are certainly some demographic groups that need programs (kids, people with disabilities, etc.), most other programs could probably be eliminated because they'll compete for time and energy with small groups.  Its a bod and difficult step, because people LOVE programs - especially those who fear most the idea of sharing life in a small group.  But we're attempting that bold move - running our service projects, adult ed, pastoral care and most other things through the channel of the small group (so, if you're not conected to a small group, you're virtually unconnected). If you really want Hydra to grow six new heads, you need to chop a few off first.

Certainly.  Now that I am a Network guide, I will check it a number of times during the week.

:-)

Hi Allen, good thing we're all under grace! No one with a more-than-half-year-delayed blog reply is late! Sorry for that long hyphenated compund word I just invented. I'm part of the Leadership Exchyange ministry working on renewing intentional disciplemaking to become a core part of our ministry culture in the CRC. Please expect to be contacted as I will be coming up with a list (and a network) of those who passionate practitioners of what you wrote on mentoring/disciplemaking. Next time though, can you reply a bit more swiftly? (smile)

Fernando del Rosario, a ministry associate and a disiciplemaking dude from Hayward CA

WOW, how did it take me this long to read this post?  My apologies livingcrc.

If you read my blogs in this section of the CRC Network, you will certainly find that I believe very strongly that the the primary calling of the church is to make disciples who partner with God in his mission to redeem the world.  Of course the primary calling of the pastor is to equip the saints to works of ministry.  But as a pastor I very much believe that part of the equipping is discipling others.  But of course we must all primarily work within our giftings, that is to say discipling another person(s) may not be our passion, but it is still a calling for all Christians.

I am always mentoring one or two people at different levels in their discipleship journey.  I believe that every small group plays a part in the discipling process for every member in the congregation because everyone must be a disciple.  Too many people are locked into a "Bible Study" and know a lot about the Bible but have never lead someone to Christ nor ventured into  serving outside of their comfort zone or the four walls of the church.  I do not believe that is partnering in the mission of God.  So yes, I am out their doing it and modeling it for my congregation.... as best I can.

 

BTW, did those elders get the groups going?  Be sure to look at the resources on the small group page here for articles on starting groups, coaching leaders etc.

Let me know if there is a particular resource you are looking for.

Amen Allen, We left our group not because of conflict or lack of  nice people, but because it became social group that couldn't open up beyond surface conversation. I too have been in a good group that was serious.

posted in: Back to the Basics

Ruth, you have been an inspiration on this page.  I think I speak for many who have appreciated your openness to challenge us and encourage us to step out in faith being faithful in God's mission of reaching others and discipling others within the context of small groups.

May God richly continue to bless you in your roles in Small Group Ministry within the CRC.  I look forward to continuing the conversations through your comments and insights.

Blessings to you.

Allen

Hi Allen, Your correct. Looking for the chance to spread Jesus Gospel is the key because therre are people around you hurting or waiting for someone to ask how they really are. I find, if I make myself vulnerable by speaking honestly people open up and pour out their souls. It presents a chance to to bring the Lords words to their comfort.. You have to validate them to the reality of the living God. I never find myself searching for words or wisdom. It's like the Holy  Spirit takes over and I can't always remember what I said. My friend"s and family tell me that it was perfect wording for the situation. What do you think Allen? I need un-bias feedback. I've posted something like this before but it was removed. Allen, I'm humbly aware what is going on but need some counseling on what to do . I'm sick with MS and I live in different environment that isdifferent from most middle aged Men. I don't think I;m a lunitic(Joke) but I do have brain damage and physical handicaps which affects all aspects of life.

I believe we certainly develop as disciples as we live out the mission.  But we also see God's mission more clearly as we develop as disciples.  Often it is the mission of God is the innertia of discipleship, but once it's moving it creates its own momentum... if that makes sense.

 

Allen

Good comment Ruth. The part about about being uncomfortable is so true if your not testing your faith by testifing about the Gospel to the community. It's scary at the beginning but you learn to trust Jesus to help you.

Thanks     Ken

Ruth,

Yeah, Alan Danielson is the bomb.  Super guy too. I got to hang out with him a lot at the Right Now Conference.  That particular study has really motivated our group.  I've used it with our newer groups to kinda get them on the right track. 

sorry Mike, I don't know what I didn't include that in my earlier post.  Also, smallgrouptrader.com is in a makeover so that each church can customize thier own online leader training using  SGT's training videos and it allows you to upload your own content and decide which or all the leaders you think need the material.

smallgroups.com is also another site that is worth every penny. 

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