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Small Group Experiments

Look for group practices that grow people more in love with God and each other. Here are a couple of small group experiments that I am currently trying out and learning from.

Small Groups
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Reporting in on Triads

Writing the final report for the Sustaining Congregational Excellence Grant which supported the Discipleship Triads for our church gave me the opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness of this project and celebrate how God has worked in and through them in our setting.

Small Groups
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Developing Leaders

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...

Small Groups
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Bringing People Into the Presence of Jesus

The small group leader was overwhelmed and exhausted. She did not see what she had expected: she was tired and discouraged. She had to do more but she didn’t have a clue what that should be. She cried out to God in prayer.

Small Groups
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Where is Your Favorite Fishing Hole?

To follow Jesus and become a fisher of men, we need to do what Jesus did. He spent time with those who were lost and needed a Savior. We cannot catch any fish by casting our fishing poles on the ground and we cannot win the lost from our comfortable church pew.

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Small Groups, Big Opportunity

On April 15-17, thousands from the CRC will be gathering to pray for our denomination at the 2013 Prayer Summit and in homes and churches across North America and around the world. Your small group can participate in this growing movement by hosting a “Watch and Pray” event in the comfort of your home or join by using the daily Prayer Guide.

Small Groups
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Growing Process

In my small group role for Home Missions, this is the most frequent question: “Our church wants to start small groups in order to grow community and disciples, what is the best method?”

Small Groups
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Leading From a Posture of Prayer

Growing a discipleship ministry is an ongoing process, much like growing a garden. Good gardeners are aware that they need to cultivate particular practices in order to develop a healthy, vibrant garden. If they faithfully plant, water, fertilize, etc., they will yield a good crop. Maybe.

Small Groups
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Why Are Believers Not Declaring the Gospel?

My firm belief, pastoral experience, and observation is that “believers do not declare the gospel if they do not delight in God.” Do you delight in Jesus Christ? Does your small group encourage delight in Jesus and declaration of the gospel?

Small Groups
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What Are We Going To Grow?

If you were going to plant a garden, what would you do? I have asked this question many times at small group discipleship training.  The first answers usually are: dig, plant, water.  What else: weed, fertilize, pick.  What else? Buy seeds.  What kind of seeds will you buy? Oh, we have to decide what we are going to grow!

Small Groups
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Women Reaching Women

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?

Small Groups
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People are not Potted Plants

Planning for ministry is much more complex than planning for a garden and often causes frustration for leaders and participants. Just like in gardening, there is not a one-size-fits-all plan.

Small Groups
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Praying Together in Small Groups

It is easy to get in a rut. Here are a couple of small group prayer ideas. Experiment with them in your group. Share your experiences and other prayer ideas. “Let us spur one another on...”

Small Groups
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Karibu Coffee Break

The Bible League of Kenya developed a partnership with Coffee Break to share the materials and method in order to encourage small group Bible discovery. Most often, ‘Bible Study’ in Africa means teaching.  People learn about the Bible through teaching in sermons, Sunday School and small groups. 

Small Groups
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Preparing to Plant

Preparing includes all of the leadership tasks between Planning and Planting. Sounds obvious! What tasks need to happen to be ready to plant or begin discipleship ministries?

Small Groups
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Planting Groups

What can we learn from gardening about small group discipleship leadership? Gardeners study their environment. They plant in season. What is your churches growing cycle? When does it start? How long is the season? How many seasons do you have? 

Small Groups
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The Parable of the Neglectful Gardener

The parable is about my gardening experience this year. The lonely tomato is on the counter in my kitchen. The parable also speaks about the current situation in many church small group discipleship ministries.

Small Groups
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Developing Leaders for the Future

I am so glad that our loving Father is the one who prunes because we can trust his motives and methods. As we consider leading a group or ministry, what can we learn about the pruning process?

Small Groups
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Harvest Time!

The Michigan summer has been great for apples. My favorite farmers market is brimming with baskets of fresh, crispy  apples – Honey crisp, Zester, Macintosh – and zucchini, peppers, melons, corn, peaches. Is your mouth watering? Harvest time is so exciting. 

Small Groups
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John's Spiritual Gifts Adventure

A couple of weeks ago, my friend John Rozeboom emailed a question: “Sam, can you recommend or point me to a member spiritual gift inventory that can be self-administered, is simple and straightforward.”

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In the Trenches With Sue Prins

Here's an interview with Sue Prins, the Discipleship Coordinator of Providence CRC in Holland. She answers: "What is your congregation's picture of a disciple of Jesus? What is the current design or shape of your church’s discipleship ministry? and more...

Small Groups
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Missional Communities After a Year

One year ago, Ferrysburg Community Church in Spring Lake, Michigan launched a missional community in a neighboring apartment complex. Pastor Nate Visker shares some reflections on what they expected, current reality and what they have learned...

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