For those who follow this blog, you know that I have been working as both a Spanish Instructor at North Greenville University and also as the Connections Pastor at 5 Point Fellowship. I have posted before about churches focusing their energies on one thing or a few ministries rather than trying to do everything. The rational is that when we try to do everything, we end up not doing any of it well. While I “preached” that here on the blog, I realized that in my own life, that is exactly what I was doing. Yesterday, I resigned from a job that I absolutely love! The trouble was that I absolutely love both jobs! People may wonder if I was secretly upset about something or if there was a disagreement on vision or whatever. The truth is…there wasn’t any of that. I still 100% support the work that 5 Point Fellowship is doing. I absolutely love the staff and people there! The staff are some of my very best friends! The reason I resigned is simple. I can’t give 110% to both 5 Point and NGU. There are other people who would love to do some of the things I was doing. Human nature tells us that they won’t knock me out of the way to do so. I had to get out of their way so that God can expand their talents. If you are a 5 Point person reading this. It has been great serving as your connections pastor! Thanks!
Archive for the 'small groups' Category
You may be thinking, (((Dude, its July! What are you doing posting on Easter))) Well, I am happy to say that Dean Herman and I went to talk with Greg Powell of the Easley, SC Department of Parks & Recreation and we have locked in the date of March 27th 2010 for the next Easley Egg Drop. I am excited about this as we have been back and forth with them since April 7th or so about getting this date reserved. Sometimes, planning big events takes some time. I am thankful that we can now start working on some of the othe details…like getting 200,000 plastic eggs stuffed with candy, a helicopter, enough hotdogs, cotton candy, snowcones, popcorn etc. to get 10,000 kids and their parents on a good sugar high! Golf carts to shuttle people from parking, a band to play, inflatables for the kids to play on…you get the picture…still a lot to do!
So why do this stuff? Because guys like my friend Aaron bring their families to it because it is free and open to the public. And then after being shown the love of Jesus through a crazy event like this, he decides to take his family to check out that church that gave all that stuff away free. And then his wife up and gave her heart to Jesus! And a couple weeks later, so did Aaron! Then they got baptized together! Then they got involved in my Home TEAM(Small group)! They got involved in reaching out to other people and are now volunteering to help with other events! That is why we do it.
About a year ago, I started working with the small group ministry at our church. We call them Home TEAMs, you may call them small groups, cell groups, Sunday school… As it continues to grow, I am amazed at how each group has its own dynamic. While all are accomplishing the two primary goals of Home TEAMs which are to help people build relationships with God and with each other, I find that each group interacts in different ways. It is, on a microcosm level, a great example of how churches are all different, but should be all working together toward the same goal of reaching people for Jesus Christ and then discipling them to help them grow in their walk with the Lord. Some of our Home TEAMs seem to grow by leaps and bounds, so I am constantly working to find new leaders and hosts so that we can divide the group up into smaller Home TEAMs. Other groups seem to go for months and months without gaining or losing members. That second group isn’t a failure! Those people are growing in the Lord, they are serving God in many ways both inside and outside the church! Just the Home TEAM itself doesn’t see its primary mission as evangelistic. The people in the group are, but they invite new believers or non believers to our church, not to their Home TEAM. Other Home TEAMs invite people off the street who aren’t a part of our church at all. Each is serving as a different part of the body of Christ, just as each church and each member is serving doing their part of the work of the Body. Keep doing what God has called YOU to do!
Before I write anything on this topic, I must first confess that I am church cultured all the way through. I have been in church since the first Sunday after my mother and father created me. Nine months or so later, I became a regular in the church nursery. You get the picture. In the world of business, a lot is changing, old business models aren’t necessarily working as well as they once did. Technology and the internet have made it possible for people to make business connections that were nearly impossible 5o years ago. So, my question is, how is that affecting the church? Should it? While the message we have to give away must remain constant through time, the way in which that message is given must be ever evolving and changing if we are to reach this generation for Christ! Pastors, we are awful about finding something that works and sticking with it long after it has ceased to work. Flannel board was all the rage and the newest and coolest way to reach people with the love of Jesus about 40 years ago. Fanny Crosby wrote incredible hymns that were put to the popular music of her day in the later half of the 1800′s. Overhead projectors shining the lyrics to “Majesty” up on the front wall of the church were great in the 1980′s! None of those things are bad. None of them will send anyone to hell. So why wouldn’t we keep using them in church? (Some churches still do.)The sinner on the street wouldn’t connect with the method in which the message was portrayed. Fanny Crosby herself said that her songs were written to speak to the man on the street, not to the highbrow church person. I am not just writing about music. Fellowship is meant to be relational. We can worship together in a large church, but fellowship only happens in small groups. How do we as a church, unless your church is only 10-15 people, continue to reach out to people while also creating environments in which small groups can assemble and spend time getting to know each other in very real relationships? At our church, we use a small group model that we call “Home TEAMs”. They are great! The problem is that less than 25% of our congregation are actively involved in one. That means that 75% basically show up on Sunday for a worship service and never experience the meaningful relationships that Christ meant for His Body – The church, to share.
Going back to the idea of rethinking business. Often 80% of your customers only account for 20% of your profit/income. In the church, we often say that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Nice to see that isn’t only a church problem, but is it possible to get the other 80% actively involved in the work of the Lord? Yes it is! Here is my “Rethinking church” idea. We often refer to certain organizations as “para-church organizations” or “faith based organizations” I would propose that maybe some of these are really undercover churches. An example: I used to work as a volunteer with a group of theaters in the Midwest called Stained Glass Theatre. They put on plays using volunteer actors. All the shows contained a strong salvation message, but were not “Bible stories”. (Except for very few.) This group of stage hands/script writers/actors/editors/…were a fellowship of people who loved the Lord and loved theatre. Through that ministry and its offshoots, thousands of people have come to know Jesus as their Savior. Thousands more have had their walk with the Lord strengthened, and I am only referring to the spectators! The people who were in the theatre, were all working toward a common goal. Some had big jobs, others little ones, but all were involved with a purpose. When one is sick or hurting all are their to comfort and help. When one rejoices, all rejoice. Is SGT perfect? No! But were real meaningful relationships build every day? Yes! People found fellowship with other Christians and with God there. So is it a church? You can decide that one…maybe we should look at that model though, and see how it can affect our church. Having a common goal and purpose, and each person having his or her role in carrying out that goal can cause a revolution in Christendom. Sorry this one is so long. Have an awesome day! Hopefully you are thinking a bit.
Nate Larkin, founder of The Samson Society said, ” Almost everything changes when Christian faith escapes the prison of individualism and becomes truly collaborative.” Nate and I have a similar history in many ways, so I really appreciate his ministry! This quote of his really spoke to something more than just pastors who were/are porn addicts or struggling with sexual addictions. We as an American society tend to fight for our individual rights. We find in life that we can do so much more when we work with others in a collaborative way. We have a tendency to see our faith as personal, I challenge each of us to see our faith in a more community oriented way. We challenge each other as we grow in the Lord when we are open and transparent with our brother’s and sisters in Christ. Ultimately, our strength comes from the Lord, however, I have found that when I am weak spiritually, having a Jesus with skin on is a great help. Having a brother in Christ who can hold me accountable, encourage me, etc. is a great thing. I pray that I can be that same brother in Christ in return when others are weak and I am more spiritually/emotionally strong. As we share with each other in a safe environment, we can say exactly what is going on in our lives without fear of being ridiculed for our weaknesses. That is what the church should be. All of us who are Christians are redeemed sinners striving toward holiness. Let us strive together in that journey!
For those of you who have followed my blog…Hi Mom. Just wanted to update you on the progress of my goals I set back on my birthday in November. On the goal of reading through the Bible twice, I just finished the first read through this morning. On the professional goal of presenting at at least one conference; last month, I presented a workshop at the SCFLTA (South Carolina Foreign Language Teacher’s Association)Conference. The third goal was to have the Home TEAM ministry representing 50% of the church or more. We have three new Home TEAMs, but our church is growing faster than the Home TEAM ministry, so I need to do more on that goal! Please keep me in your prayers on that one!
Ok, some would say my brain doesn’t work, but, here is a glimpse as to how it functions….
This last week has been an incredible week of positives and negatives. One friend got saved! Three young men at a camp I worked last week got saved! Six were baptized! One friend from church died. One student died in a car wreck. Girl Scout cookies came in, so I and my work study have enjoyed those! A friend lost his job. I picked up some more work for this summer. My wife and I paid off one debt! The April 4th egg drop is really coming together! The city is changing their mind on some of the things we had agreed on. My church office was repainted while I was gone, and it looks great! Home TEAM ministry is growing like crazy! Need some new leaders and hosts! Sunday was incredible! 8 people accepted Jesus into their hearts! Started New Believers class Sunday night!
If you keep up with my blog, you know that I work with small group ministries at my church. Recently, in recruiting new leaders, I talked with a couple who I thought would make a great pair to host a new Home TEAM(our name for small groups). They were interested, and then pitched an idea to me. “What about a group for blended families?” I was pleased with their initiative and so we began working out the details. During those weeks, I did some checking because honestly, I know nothing about blended families beyond watching the Brady Bunch when I was a kid. There are no step or half anybodies in my family. I came across some interesting statistics. 30% of marriages in the United States create a blended family situation. As we know, the divorce rate in the church sadly is no different than outside the church, so chances are that there are blended families in any congregation. As I began reading about some of the issues they face, I realized that what started out as an idea from one couple who want to be Home TEAM leaders could end up being an incredible ministry! As I look around my own church, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that at least 20% of our congregation are in some kind of blended family situation, and the reality is that I am probably very low on that statistic. I am writing as someone who knows nothing of the struggles these families face except from what I have read. Many pastors and church leaders are like me in this respect, so maybe this blog entry will trigger a new idea for your congregation. Have a great day!
How many of you have started some sort of small group ministry, but then wonder how to get people involved. Invitations and group Link type meeting aren’t working, so now what? Here is a simple idea that we have used that seems to work very well. Even a personal invitation to a home group can sometimes be threatening to a new person. The idea is to invite them out for lunch. Maybe even invite another person or couple from your group as well. They get to know you and someone else from the group prior to coming to the Home Group. That way, they aren’t stepping into a new house not knowing anyone in the group. You are probably saying “That’s it?”. Sorry, no great program or DVD series, just making connections with people live and in person. Have an awesome day!
For those who follow my blog, you know that I work with the small group ministry at my church. We call them Home TEAMs, but the name doesn’t matter much. What is important is that people’s lives are being changed. People are getting involved with other people in meaningful relationships and growing in their relationships with God as they work together. If your church is growing beyond the 60-100 size, you are probably starting to see that you no longer know everyone. There are two solutions. One is to not invite any more people to your church and thus keep it small so that you can continue to have great relationships with all the members. The other option is to be excited about the growth of the church and all the people’s lives that are being changed by the Lord and at the same time create environments in which people can connect on a more personal level. There isn’t one perfect model. In my own church, we have multiple types of small groups. Some are ladies only, some are men only, some are couples, some meet every week, some twice a month, some once a quarter, some are related to a theme like “the band” which plays music every Sunday for our worship service, some are classes like the one we currently have going which is a Marriage Enrichment class based on the movie and curriculum from Fireproof. All of these groups have different purposes, but all meet the need of helping people connect in a smaller group setting where they can build friendships and relationships with others. There are many other options, in a traditional church, there are Sunday school classes, or the choir. These can be excellent if opportunity is given for those relationships to be built. There is no need to suddenly stop what you are doing now, but you might look and see if there are opportunities to help people build meaningful relationships in your church to help combat the busy American lifestyle that doesn’t lend itself well to having close friends.