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Showing posts from April, 2014

6 Reasons Good Friday Is Good

Good Friday is not good because of the cross. It is good because the benefits of the cross are applied to our lives.  Today is a great day to spend time considering how God extended His grace to us through the work of His Son on the cross.  Below, I've listed six words which describe the benefits of Christ's death. Take some time to read the passages and think about how Good Friday was good for you. Take time to read the passage for each question, and then for each word, answer the four questions below: How would you define this word?  What is an example of this from every day life? How does this word apply to the relationship between God and humanity? Did this happen immediately (at the cross), later (sometime after the cross), or is it a future event? How does this effect me personally? THE BENEFITS OF THE CROSS Restoration. (Revelation 21:5-6) Redemption. (Ephesians 1:7-14) Regeneration. (Ephesians 2:1-6) Reconciliation. (Romans 5:10-11) Ransom (Mark

5 Things I'm Communicating To My Church Family To Prepare For Easter Guests

I send an email to my church family every other week. This is one way I can communicate to them and invite them to communicate back to me. This week I did not have an all-church email scheduled, but I sent one instead. I wanted to be sure we had done everything to be prepared for this Sunday. God may bless us with many guests this week, and my desire is that we will be excellent hosts. This email is one way I'm trying to foster that. If you haven't prepared your church for Easter guests, there is still lots of time for you to send an email!   Sunday is Easter! This is often the most crowded day of the year in American churches, so I wanted to take a moment and send a few suggestions your way. This Sunday morning, we have a great celebration planned. I hope you are planning to be a part of it. I want you to know that right at 10:30 we'll be launching into some creative and meaningful pieces of the Easter service. If you aren't there at 10:30, you'll defini

If You Are Asking What God Will Permit, You're Asking the Wrong Question

When I was a youth pastor (and still, whenever I speak to teenagers), one of the more popular questions kids want answered is, “How far is too far with my boyfriend/girlfriend?” As our culture has become more sexually aware and explicit, that question has become more and more difficult to answer as kids today are exposed to far more far earlier than kids in the past. However, my answer remains the same today as it has always been. How far is too far? You’re asking the wrong question. This exchange is very similar to one Jesus had with the Pharisees in Mark 10:1-9. The Pharisees (likely trying to trip Jesus up) came to him and asked,  "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" I want to focus on the word “lawful”. Essentially the Pharisees were asking Jesus, “What can we get away with?” (it’s the same as “How far is too far?”). They were most concerned with how much questionable activity they could engage in without being considered sin. Too often, we t

Element #4 for Successfully Leading a Small Group: FOCUS

My assumption is that the members of a healthy small group are sharing their lives outside of their normal meeting times. A healthy small group should have "extra" events that bring them together for purposes beyond studying the Bible. I call these events, the group FOCUS. These events might be meals, parties, trips, or better yet service projects, or missional activities. Taking a small amount of time on a regular basis to focus on upcoming events will enable a group to accomplish these kind of extra life-sharing events. One group I was once part of loved to party. Every summer we had several parties at homes, parks, and other places. Using tools like email and Facebook enabled us to focus on these events even when we weren’t meeting regularly ( Click here for 5 Ways Facebook Can ImproveYour Group ). More importantly, our group also had several missional/service focuses over the course of the year. Once every month we gathered to serve at a local soup ki

In Defense of the Seeker Church Movement

(I know the "seeker movement" is a thing of the past. But it spawned a whole new way of thinking about church that continues to be emulated and panned today. These thoughts came out of my daily reading this morning) 1 Corinthians 14:20-26 is about tongues and prophesy. It's part of Paul's exhortation to do things decently and in order when the church gathers. His argument in these specific verses revolves around whether tongues and prophesy are for believers and unbelievers; and to make his point he quotes an old testament passage. This topic is difficult and complicated. The context into which Paul was writing was unique and means we cannot make an exact transfer of Paul's instructions from Corinth to now. However... I think there is a secondary principle in Paul's words that is at least worth a mention. As I read these instructions, I notice three assumptions Paul has about the Corinthian worship gatherings. These assumptions seem to b

Element #3 For Successfully Leading a Small Group: FAITH

The third element of a healthy group is Expanding Faith . Essentially, this means helping the members of your group be formed into the image of Christ. In my opinion, this is the primary purpose for your group's existence; therefore, it should be the primary focus for you, the small group leader. This element requires the small group leader to know himself (or herself). While many leaders are capable of preparing an effective Bible study or discussion on their own, some group leaders will need help if they are to consistently lead their group in faith expanding gatherings. Fortunately, if one knows where to look, it is very simple to find materials that will work for almost any group. Small group curriculum comes in many forms. If you take the time to look you'll find book studies, Bible studies, topical studies, video-based studies, studies that require homework, and studies that simply offer up a few questions for discussion. As the group leader, you need to kno

Element #2 For Successfully Leading a Small Group: FELLOWSHIP

These blog posts are based on the assumption that "sharing life" with other Christians should be an integral part of our DNA as Christ-followers. Therefore, given the proper setting, these types of relationships should naturally flourish as long as we aren't quenching the life-giving aid of the Holy Spirit. Read the introductory post here. Read about element one here . Already, I wrote that anyone can lead a small group if they have food. Now, I offer you the second element of a healthy small group, FELLOWSHIP. "Fellowship" is one of those words that really only shows up in the church setting, so it may need a little bit of defining. Essentially, when we use this word, we are speaking of the unique type of relationships that Christians can only have with other Christians. It is a special kind of life-sharing that is precipitated by the important things we have in common, namely our faith in Jesus Christ. In the book Why Small Groups? , John

Element #1 For Successfully Leading a Small Group: Food

This may seem a bit shallow, but meals are a very important part of our lives. It's no accident that while on earth, some of Jesus' most important interactions with his followers happened over meals . Something happens to us when we share food with other people. Acquaintances become friends and friends become soul-mates over shared meals. Somehow, the presence of food helps us drop our inhibitions and open ourselves to those with whom we're sharing the meal. A healthy small group doesn't always need food, but food almost always helps a group be healthy. Especially in the early days of the group, having snacks and drinks will help immensely as the group navigates through the awkward waters of getting to know one another. Potlucks are great and done occasionally can be very positive, but they aren't practical for the group that meets every week. The easiest thing to help facilitate food is to create a snack schedule and make sure you remind people early

Almost Anyone Can Lead a Small Group

Leading a small group can be intimidating. Many people are afraid that they are not capable, or gifted, or intelligent enough to lead a group of people as they follow Jesus together. I think they are wrong. Matthew 28:18-20 is a passage often described as the “Great Commission.” In these verses, Jesus commissioned his disciples to go and make other disciples. Interestingly, though, He did not tell them to do this in their own power or using their own strength. Rather, he makes it clear that they will be able to accomplish this because He has been given all power. Jesus’ authority is what makes it possible for us to make disciples. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you have been empowered by Him to make other disciples. Not everyone can lead a small group, but almost anyone can. Of course there are a few qualifications that every small group leader should have: They must be a follower of Christ. They should be a mature enough believer that they know their way around the Bible a