Does your group have members who attend virtually (via Zoom or another videoconference software)? Is that okay? Or is that a second-rate form of community? And how much work does it take to make sure that you’re still in real relationship with that face on the screen?
What we pray for and strive to achieve with the group is the discipleship strategy of College Park Church: to belong , grow and multiply. Our group is a launching pad, not just a landing pad—helping men not just look inward but forward. Here are four ways that we help our community of men follow Jesus.
It’s easy to overcomplicate things. In an effort to lead well, I often over-think, over-plan, and over-prepare. But sometimes simple methods are the most effective. Although many strategies are useful for leading a Small Group in discussion, in my experience I have seen how three simple questions can create a helpful walk-through for how to understand and apply God’s Word together.
Sometimes the word “accountability” can instill fear—and for good reason. When misused, it becomes nothing more than legalistic, performance-based righteousness. Biblical accountability can be a beautiful tool within the context of a group and can draw members into deeper fellowship. But what exactly is biblical accountability?
We can all easily find ourselves stuck in the same prayer habits, leading us to an ineffective time with Lord. Christians often struggle in their prayer life—not knowing what to pray and offering distracted prayers. With so many things competing for our attention, we need to be more fervent in creating the space to commune with the Creator God.
If there has been one constant this year it is this: uncertainty. Crisis causes change. And change leaves us figuring out how to respond. If uncertainty is our constant companion, what do we do about that? It’s never easy to feel out of control. We cherish finding a sense of stability. So, here are four actions we can take to continue moving forward even in the midst of uncertainty.
Praying in a group can be intimidating, especially if it’s with people you’ve just met or still getting to know. Prayers begin to sound better in your head than when spoken out loud—so you decide not to speak and are afraid you will embarrass yourself by saying something silly. But sharing your heart in prayer or sharing your prayer requests can be a place of healing.
Everything was new for us: being married, living together, new state, new jobs, new city, new friendships, new church; all of it. Although we both have loving and supportive families and friend groups in Michigan and Ohio, we knew that community was going to be important in a year of transition.
After moving into five different apartments the first five years of marriage, my wife and I are ready to settle into a home. The excitement for this milestone in our life has led us to ask the question, “What is the first thing we will do in our new home?” Buy new furniture? Likely! Enjoy watching our kiddo run around in the backyard? Certainly! Start a Small Group? Yep!
During the height of sequestering and feeling increasingly confined, my wife Cathy and I were introduced (virtually) to Nathan and Rebekah Elliott—who are Small Group leaders at College Park Church. Meeting new people through video phone platforms can be difficult. Nonetheless, it was very clear to see across a screen just how charming, fervent, and genuine the Elliotts really were.
As Small Group leaders we have answered a call to steward those entrusted in our group. Much like a gardener, we are tasked with nurturing, but the Lord is the one that causes the growth. We can’t take credit when our group is doing well, but we can take steps to ensure against neglect.
I don’t want to burn out. But there are so many threats in life that push me toward spending all my energy and having nothing left. Especially after a season of heightened crisis, we need some recovery. So, what can we do to avoid burnout? Let’s try these six practices
I can say leading a Small Group has become one of the greatest joys and experiences I have had in my faith journey so far. I am able to encourage, be encouraged, and bring people together so that they can continue to love one another well and I can also be loved. Every member of the Small Group community plays a special part in that.
In the age of Photoshop and curated feeds it has become normal to only publish what we want people to see. I longed to feel like I could be myself without the need to hide behind a mask or stand protected behind a wall. These precious relationships can only flourish by being vulnerable and sharing real struggles with others.
Although it can be scary to think about “losing” a really great group member, we’re called to encourage one another to maximize using our spiritual gifts (see Heb. 10:24-25). And one of the best days in a Small Group is that bittersweet day when a member is released to start leading a group on their own. Here are five clues that will help you know if someone in your group is ready to lead
We are beginning a series of firsts after being in lockdown for weeks—whether that is your first dine-in restaurant experience or first haircut since quarantine. But how do you pick up where you left off with your Small Group? How are you preparing for your first gatherings as a group post-quarantine? What about social meet-ups with members from your group?
I love our Small Group. God has brought together a group of people representing incredibly diverse backgrounds, and it has been a privilege getting to know those the Lord has brought into our lives. But this diversity wasn’t something I even realized to ask God for until two years ago.
The strangeness of post-quarantine life has given us a window of opportunity to connect on a deeper level with unbelieving people in our lives. Quarantine, E-learning, working from home, political unrest and social injustice have opened doors to conversations like never before. But are we ready?
Unfortunately, “discipleship” can often be reduced to a vision of a mentor and a mentee, drastically distanced in their spiritual maturity level, that meet together for years. But this is not the only way, or perhaps even the most frequent way, that discipleship happens in our lives.
You understand that to be a Christian is to be a disciple-maker, but you aren’t sure how to go about it. You want God to use you to make a difference in the lives of people around you through mentoring, but actually getting started has you at a standstill. Thankfully, God by his grace has given us help in his all-sufficient Word to know how to get started in the kingdom-advancing work of discipling.
Over the years we have had to look at each other many times and say “Honey, we have a problem.” Of course, problems come in different shapes and sizes. I want to encourage you with four guiding principles to pursue when your marriage is experiencing any of these types of trouble.
Even though I am not experiencing loneliness at this present time, I am well acquainted with it. I know what it’s like to be with others while feeling completely isolated. I’m thankful that Jesus knows it too.
But today, while it feels discouraging, know that I am the only one who fully knows how you feel. That is where I am meeting you: in the middle of what you are experiencing, not after. Keep trusting me, because I can be trusted. Pastor Bob shares a letter from heaven to a discouraged child.
When your mind defaults to anxiety what you believe about yourself, and more importantly, what you believe about God become paramount. Anxiety can evaporate when you rehearse and believe foundational truth. Here are two questions for you to ask yourself as you face anxiety.
Living in the middle of a worldwide pandemic is surfacing my fears and worries in ways that I have to address. Can you relate? What does help? Having others walk with us, pointing us toward God.
In this time, you are learning firsthand why Sundays are important as a believer. Why you gather together is less of a hypothetical question and is now answered with a feeling of longing to be together. I recommend that we show up for worship at the standard service time each week, even if we’re not walking into the same building. Why?
Having been a leader in different contexts over the years, I was pleasantly surprised that this coaching relationship was a core dynamic to Small Groups. If I was going to keep growing as a spiritual leader, I felt that this coaching relationship was a must!
As we are having to find new ways to make the most of this time with kids at home, let me encourage you that being stuck indoors can also be a blessing. When will you ever have this much consistent, uninterrupted time with your child? Here are some ideas on how to make the most of each day—and even make some new memories too.
When your Small Group can’t meet in person, you can still gather digitally by using a video conferencing app like Zoom. This article will only cover some top questions about how to use Zoom.
I’m sure you feel the surprise and challenge of this year as well. This time of isolation is difficult on many levels, yet in these challenging times we can look to the example of Jesus and three lessons he can teach us about isolation.
The crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus over two thousand years ago has forever changed the course of human history. He exercises dominion over everything that exists—and that includes our community. Jesus’ resurrection has changed community in three important ways.
Just like your kids don’t know what they’re going to be learning before the lesson starts—so we don’t know what God’s going to teach us each day. There’s something more that’s available to us as Christians. It’s seeing spiritually. Even today, we can take the chance to tell our spouses or kids what we’re seeing today: not another episode or a neighbor, but our heart and our Savior.
Even the best of us feels the pressure when we are in close quarters with others for a long time. Maybe a month ago you were hoping that you could spend more time at home, and now you are wishing you could get out! No one is immune from the temptation to be irritable with those we love. Here are 7 weapons to fight irritability.
Everyone knows where their remote control is located. But how can we make an at-home evening special without pressing the “on” button (even with kids around)? Here are nineteen ideas.
No one is going to deny it: this is a unique season. For most of us, this kind of threat feels utterly unusual. But God’s people are in fact very used to threats and fears—and they know exactly where to go for safety.
The weekend encouraged me to actively strive to live a life that pleases the Lord—not to earn salvation, but as a deliberate means of living out the grace that God has given us in Christ. So now that THINK weekend is over, what are some next steps we can take to keep “growing in godliness”?
When we connect into God’s church, we are supposed to “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ”. But is that actually happening in your group? Here are three questions you can ask to find out.
We’ve all been to the doctor to get a check-up on how our body is doing. But how do you run a check-up on a Small Group? Whether you are a Coach or a leader, the following nine questions should help:
Whether you are leading or participating in a Small Group, have you ever stepped back and evaluated your expectations? How do you measure whether your Small Group has been a success? Here are 5 things that I have learned over the past few years that have remained a marker for our group.
It is easy for our motives to become less about making our guests welcome and more about presenting our homes and families better than how we really live. Biblical hospitality offers a more strategic opportunity. . .
Just like individual Christians are called to multiply (through evangelism and discipleship), Small Groups should also have a view for how to multiply God’s work in their lives. This happens in three ways.
In many ways, my Small Group members were as much a part of this trip as I was. As I pressed on in faith, they prayed with me, encouraged me, and helped generously support me. The Lord had prepared me. He had also surrounded me with people who loved me and were praying for me—including my Small Group family.
While growing up in church, perfect attendance was often lauded as the pinnacle of Sunday School or Awana participation. Sure, these are my childhood thoughts towards attaining an award. But these yearly moments trained me. They trained me to feel guilt when I had to miss gatherings of different sorts. More recently, I have also had these thoughts and feelings about missing Small Group gatherings.
We could think that involvement in a Small Group absolves us of our responsibility to fully engage on Sunday mornings. That won’t work. Sunday mornings are the primary place where God’s people gather and worship, and Small Groups allow us to dig deeper into how to apply those truths into our real lives.
While plans are good and necessary, it is God who ultimately directs your steps. Whatever your hesitations are associated with the new year, have you asked what God’s plans are for your Small Group? Here are a few suggestions to help frame your mind as you enter a new decade.
How many times have we heard a fellow member share a prayer request update and realized that we completely neglected to pray for them during the intervening week between Small Group gatherings? These four methods can help with upping our prayer priority for those in our group—even in the midst of our full schedules.