Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Anyone Can Lead A Small Group. Here's How.

I truly believe that almost anyone can lead a small group at your church (there are always exceptions). If someone is a disciple of Christ, they are called to make other disciples. With the right tools and equipping they can disciple others in a small group setting.

THIS IS FOR YOU

If you pastor a church with small groups, are in charge of small groups, train small group leaders, lead a small group, are in a small group, think small groups are a good thing or would just like to know a little more about small groups... I have something for you.


Below is a link to a kindle book which practically lays out the key steps anyone can take to effectively lead a small group (yes, anyone... almost). Even if you have no experience teaching, organizing or leading; the lists and charts in this book will empower you to launch and lead a group that grows together and ultimately serves together.

HERE'S WHAT YOU GET

In this book, I lay out the 4 KEY ELEMENTS every small group needs in order to facilitate long-term success. I also provide a six-week template covering every detail you'll need in order to get off to a great start.

As a freebie, I've included a couple resources I created several years ago. You'll get the 10 COMMANDMENTS OF LEADING DISCUSSION as well as a guide to AVOID THE 4 MOST COMMON COMMUNITY KILLERS.


NEED AN ALTERNATIVE?

If you aren't a Kindle-kind-of-person, and would like a hard copy, shoot me a message. I can get you a downloadable PDF.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How I Create An Annual Preaching Calendar


File under: "What do pastors do with their time?"

Assembling An Annual Preaching Calendar.

Assumption One: The Holy Spirit is active in my life and work in ways I can't understand or identify.
Assumption Two: If my whole life is bathed in prayer, then my work will be bathed in prayer, as will this process.
Assumption Three: When striving to be faithful and obedient, I must first do everything I know to be right, and then what I believe to be wise, and finally what appears to be expedient. A preaching calendar is an expedient way to be wise about doing what is right.
Assumption Four: This type of thing, like virtually all ministry is not done alone. I think of myself as a clarifier more than a creator. I seek to hear many voices before beginning, and seek much refinement before ending.
Assumption Five: All this is flexible.

Step One: Ask four important questions

  • How do we understand discipleship? Can we identify clear discipleship elements we should address?
  • Who are we? How do we teach our people (from the Bible) about their identity as the church?
  • Where are we as a body? What truths do our people need?
  • Where am I? What is God saying to me right now? Why shouldn't I share it?
At the end of step one, I should have a long brainstormed list of potential topics, book studies, theological issues, virtues, etc. which may be developed into preaching series.

Step Two: Identify key dates in the calendar around which teaching series may be built:

  • Easter
  • Mother's Day/Father's Day
  • National Holidays (if you must)
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • Labor Day (this signals the end of the summer, which in many places means people come back to church the next week. It's a big mistake to start a series right before or on Labor Day.)
At the end of step two, I may have tentatively plugged some of the brainstormed series into the calendar. While I may yet move them, I now have an idea of what other series may be helpful to effectively disciple the people of our church for the coming year.

Step Three: Consider means by which you can create a balanced year of teaching

As a general rule, I like to do Old Testament studies in the fall because they naturally lead up to Christmas. I like to do the Gospels after the new year because they lead into Easter. The rest of the year is a good time to look at the epistles, poetry, etc.

Step Four: Find the best places for the "Special Days" which need to be included

In many churches, the "special days" are things like baptism, communion, missions reports, etc. Baptism and communion particularly are days we try to set aside to really focus on the celebration. Sometimes these days fall naturally into a series we are doing, and sometimes they need to be placed as a stand-alone between series.

Conclusion:

Obviously, there's more to it, but this is just a rough outline, and all this is just the opening activity. The next step is really where the hard work starts as I break down each series, determining the key teaching points and biblical truths which will form the main ideas for each week's sermon. But that's another post for another time.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Simple 7 Step Method to Transform Your Bible Study

Today's activities become tomorrow's habits. Tomorrow's habits determine your life's path.



Find a few times each week to spend a few minutes in God's Word. You'll not be disappointed. Whether you read several chapters, just one, a few paragraphs or even one verse; pouring God's Word into your heart is a powerful habit which will enable you to grow a heart like God's.

In order to avoid the complacency that can result from your Bible Study time feeling too routine, try to change things up from time to time. The following list can be used by groups of 8-10 or by a small group of 2 or 3. More importantly, it's a great way for one person to dig into God's Word and come away with something helpful.

This seven-step Bible Study method works best if you are studying one or two paragraphs (some Bibles use section headings, those are good as well). If you are studying a whole chapter it will work as well, but may take a bit longer.

Work your way through each of these steps and see how they affect your day:

1. Read the entire passage two times.

2. Outline the passage as concisely as possible.

3. Rewrite the passage (or part of it) in your own words.

4. Summarize the entire passage to one sentence.

5. Summarize the entire passage to one word.

6. Make a list of new ideas you have discovered in this passage.

7. Write down one thing you want to do differently as a result of this.

Monday, June 6, 2016

3 Core Habits To Cultivate A Healthy Life


Your daily choices create more opportunities or spawn more limitations for your future. Good choices lead to more opportunity. We lay the foundation for good choices by creating healthy daily habits and routines. If you want to make better choices on a regular basis, consider these three daily CORE HABITS OF A HEALTHY LIFE.

I was inspired to this idea by an ad I saw in a magazine. Because I like lists and am regularly concerned with the habits I am forming (we are all forming habits, they are either helpful or harmful), I thought I'd convert the image into a series of lists and thoughts. What follows is more "stream of consciousness" than well-thought-out writing. You may find it helpful or you may hate it. Either way, I hope it inspires you to consider the habits you are creating and whether they are helping your grow or causing you to plateau.

RISE

  • The earlier you get going, the further you'll go and the more you'll get done.
  • As Ben Franklin advised, if you want to rise early in the morning then retire early the night before.
  • We all need help in the morning (other than the disgusting few who jump out of bed each morning raring to go). For each of us it looks a little different. Some need a longer shower, some need coffee, some need fruit, etc. You know what you need. Create a morning routine that allows you to rise and be ready for whatever the day may bring.

READ

  • Read your Bible. You can read one verse, one chapter or one whole book. You can read a Proverb, a Psalm, something from the Gospels, one of the letters or anything else. Whatever you read, don't just scan the words and dive into your day. Take it with you. As God said to Joshua, "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."
  • Read a book by an author who inspires you. You may enjoy fiction. Others prefer history. Some like business or leadership books. Find an author who speaks your language and make their writings a regular part of your routine. By reading and re-reading their best writing, you'll discover they become a mentor of sorts, empowering you to grow and expand.
  • Read the news. Newspapers are awesome. News magazines once were as well. The printed media is quickly going away, but you can still get on-line and find out what is going on in the world. Find a good news source and try to avoid opinion sources. Be informed about current events, but don't be consumed by those who tell you what to think about them.
  • DON'T read Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Save these apps and websites for later in your day. Your morning reading is for INSPIRATION, social media is good for distraction and connection but not for inspiration. Later in the day, when you need a short break from the grind, is a much better time to spend a few minutes liking, following and sharing.

REACH

  • Reach a little further today than you did yesterday.
    • Set your goals a little higher
    • Try something you've not tried before
    • Work a little bit harder or a little bit longer
    • Accomplish one extra task
  • Reach a few more people than you did yesterday.
    • Invest extra time listening to someone
    • Provide assistance where you haven't before
    • Generously encourage and compliment those around you
    • Offer prayer to someone who is struggling
    • Invite someone to join you for a meal or coffee