August 30, 2010
Take an honest look at your group's prayer life and let us know what you see.
I have been spending a lot of time exploring small-group prayer over the past couple of weeks. A lot of it has been for our newest training download, Revolutionary Prayer in Your Small Group, which is available as of this morning.
But I've also been digging into the topic because it really interests me. And depresses me. The idea of meaningful, revolutionary prayer within a small group makes me feel both hopeful and ashamed. Because the more I try to steer my small group toward a life-changing enterprise, the more I realize that prayer is a foundational element of what we want to do.
Any chance anyone out there feels the same way?
Let us know through the poll below, and post a comment if you'd like to share something that you have found helps prayer work really well within a group (or if you have a question and/or are struggling a bit, like me).
August 27, 2010
Time is running out on our iPad Giveaway!
It is August 27, which means we only have 4 days left in our iPad Giveaway (sponsored by the Small Groups Digizine). So, are you entered in the drawing? Are you entered as many times as you could be?
Click here to take a quick look back at our Contest Page and make sure you are giving yourself the best chance to win!
August 26, 2010
Stop "going to church" and start "being the church!"
It’s always important to think about the purpose of small groups. Whenever I think about this issue, I almost always go back to examining the New Testament pattern of church to confirm the “why” of small groups.
Consider some of the history of the early church:
Though there's a lot we don't know about the early church, we can learn a lot from the New Testament, especially the letters of Paul. Paul uses the word "ekklesia," which from pre-Christian days meant "any gathering of a group of people," to refer to a gathering of people before God. The gatherings were usually small, probably 30 members on average, and the people often belonged to the same household or guild. Sometimes several such groups met together, but this was probably rare before the third century, when special buildings for Christian worship began to be constructed. Small groups of Christians met regularly for worship, encouragement, and instruction as early as the first decades of Christianity, but it's not quite accurate to call them "small groups" in the contemporary sense. These groups didn't think of themselves as the more personal, relational aspect of a larger church, as many small groups do now—they were the only church that members knew. (Taken from BuildingChurchLeaders.com “Ask Christian History”)
That last statement, for me, is the real key: "These groups didn't think of themselves as the more personal, relational aspect of a larger church, as many small groups do now—they were the only church that members knew." As we consider the early days of the church, it doesn’t make sense to see small groups (or whatever you want to call them) as the "what is missing, help people connect, add one more thing to my schedule" component of church. Instead, is it possible for all relational, purposeful gatherings of Christ-followers, whether small or large, to be simply looked at as just "being the church"?
If we could see church as not something that we do, so much as something we are, then the small-group gatherings (or large-group worship services, for that matter) would just be part of the natural expression of "being the church." And with that vision and purpose, small groups don’t become the forced add-on to what we now think of as "church." Rather, smaller gatherings are simply an expression of the overall organism of the Body of Christ. Then we can gain freedom from the purpose of "going to church" and replace it with the purpose of "being the church."
August 18, 2010
Talking with JoHannah Reardon, managing editor of ChristianBibleStudies.com
Here is another video that was included in the Small Groups Digizine (and a pretty funny video, if I do say so myself). But I wanted to make it large and in charge here on the blog just in case anyone missed it.
August 17, 2010
What curriculum options have been working well in your group?
As a small-group leader, I'm used to feeling the itch right about now. You know what I'm talking about—that little itch in the back of your mind that pops up in the middle of August and says, "We've got to find something good to study in our small group, and we've got to find it fast!"
Fortunately, I am set this year. My group has been going through the Book of Revelation, and we are going to pick up right where we left off back in June. But I know there are plenty of small-group leaders out there who have procrastinated and are now scrambling to find something deep, cheap, and understandable.
So tell us: What has been working in your small group? What Bible studies have you found on SmallGroups.com that were especially helpful in the past year? What printed studies have you come across in bookstores or online that you thought were well done? What books have you read that would make a great study for a small group?
Basically, lend a helping hand to those poor group leaders who, upon reading this, are just now starting to realize that they have to find something to study—and fast!
August 11, 2010
Great encouragement and advice from Mark Batterson and Heather Zempel
Did you catch the video interview with Mark Batterson and Heather Zempel in the recent Small Groups Digizine? If not, never fear -- we have posted it below.
And of course, if you haven't seen the Digizine yet, click here to check it out—you don't want to miss it!
August 9, 2010
Why don't we see more "full family" small groups?
I'm on the home stretch for our next featured download, "Effective Intergenerational Small Groups," and I was really intrigued by an article written by Scottie May (my former teacher at Wheaton College).
Scottie's article tackles several of the faulty assumptions that small groups and churches seem to hold regarding intergenerational groups, and I think she has hit the nail on the head. Here is a quick list of the three main assumptions she writes about:
- A low view of children. Adults in a small group feel that children have low attention spans, are easily bored, and would not contribute to the overal group experience.
- A misguided view on how learning "should look." Group leaders feel like they would have to "dumb down" the material in order to make it applicable to children, which would significantly lessen the impact of the study for adults. Basically, this assumption is that groups should be primarily focused on the transfer of information, which would be hindered by kids.
- Parents want a break. This assumes that parents view their small group as a form of "date night," or at least as a time to finally get some adult conversation. This includes the assumption that children are being spiritually formed at an appropriate level through other avenues within the church—Sunday school, youth groups, etc.
Scottie's claim is that these are all faulty assumptions. What do you think? Would you resist having children in your group based on any of these factors? Or if you do have children in your group, what has your experience been like?
August 6, 2010
We would really like to know what you think.
Well, we've come to the end of our first week with the Small Groups Digizine live, and I'm really happy to see that a large number of you have been checking it out. (And if you haven't seen the Digizine yet, you can do so right here.)
But now I'd like to know what you think!
If you've been impressed by different elements of the Digizine, we'd really like to know which ones. We will be making more of these, after all, and it's always good to know what's working. In the same way, if you thought certain parts were not so good, we would really like to know that as well.
Don't be shy! Just post a comment below and let us know what you think.