February 22, 2013
Working with God to restore broken cities
What do you do when you're uncomfortable? What's your response when there's an awkward moment in conversation, someone disregards your need for personal space, or you feel your physical safety is at risk? It's easy to just leave, to remove yourself from the situation.
But what if your very neighborhood began feeling uncomfortable. Would you leave and miss out on what God might do through you there?
Yvette Rock, an artist in Detroit, saw that people were fleeing the city, and she chose to stay put, to work alongside God to restore her home. With Isaiah 58 as her inspiration, she's committed to restoring the city. Watch the video of her story from our sister ministry This Is Our City.
Does God call us to work in our neighborhoods? To help restore the broken in our cities?
How might small groups be especially suited for working in the community?
What impact is your small group having on your city?
February 19, 2013
Even more to inspire your group to be missional
Well, it's no surprise that I'm passionate about missional small groups—groups that are impacting their communities for the kingdom, working with God for his redemptive purposes. I've written about my own small group experiences here, here, here, and here. Plus, we put together a digital magazine last summer on how to make your small group missional.
Now I'm happy to give you two new resources. First of all, we've created a Training Theme resource on missional small groups. It's perfect to use by yourself to learn more about what missional small groups are about and how you can move your small group in that direction. Additionally, this resource is perfectly set up to be used in a leader training event or retreat. It even includes a retreat plan. And you'll hear from people who are living it out.
To inspire your group to missional living through song, use our new free playlist available through Grooveshark. Just click the link and enjoy a hand-selected mix of songs that remind us of God's mission and to be others-focused.
How is your small group engaging in missional living together? Share your story with us below.
February 14, 2013
How listening helped my small group bless a new friend
This past weekend my small group blessed a 70-year-old man in a big way. He lives by himself in a pay-by-the-week motel. Without any family, he's lonely. And because he's not able to drive and is a little unstable on his feet, he's pretty much confined to his small room.
When we met him last summer, we were deeply touched, and we immediately started to build a relationship with him. One group member started picking him up each week for church, so he can experience community. Then we invited him to a Thanksgiving celebration with our small group. For Christmas, several of us bought him presents, and my husband and I had him over for Christmas dinner.
So when he told us he was turning 70 on February 9, we set to work planning a party. One group member is an excellent baker and made a large chocolate cake. Another member loves to plan, so she put together a delicious meal. We all pitched ideas for good presents for him, and we invited the kids, knowing how much our friend enjoys being around little ones.
The party was a success. But only because we learned to listen. Without listening, we would have no idea of how much he enjoys being around children. We'd have no idea that he prefers the King James Version or that he loves Pepsi but can't carry it home from the store on his own. We wouldn't know that his favorite treat is chocolate or that he goes to McDonald's each week with a friend for coffee. And all these details factored greatly in our planning. Because after all, a birthday party should be all about the person having the birthday.
One of the first lessons we learned as we started to be a missional small group is that we can't assume what others need. Instead, we have to get to know people and listen for their hopes, dreams, and needs. With our new friend, we've done just that. And it means that we've deeply touched his life. And in return, he's touched ours.
Listening is extremely important when it comes to missional living. Without first listening, we can do a lot of damage. We will probably incorrectly assume what people need. And we may break any trust by pushing ourselves on others.
And while listening seems simple enough, it's a difficult skill. True listening forces us to withhold judgment and seek to understand first and foremost. Only when we truly understand can we help others in the ways they need to be helped.
February 12, 2013
What one leader learned while falling down the stairs
When I asked Peri Gilbert, a regular writer for SmallGroups.com, what advice she had for new leaders, she started telling a story about falling down the stairs.
You see, in high school she found herself distracted while going up the stairs, and she fell, books and papers flying everywhere. And she's never forgotten the lessons she learned that day: watch where you're going, get rid of the obstacles (the stairs) in your way, and be willing to help and be helped by others.
These principles are helpful in small-group ministry. Leaders need to have a clear vision for where they're going and minimize distractions so they can stay the course. They also need to get rid of any unnecessary distractions. And leaders must be humble enough to ask for help—and to offer it when it's needed. She explains these ideas further in her new article.
What's your advice for new leaders? What lessons have you learned as you've led? Share with us below.
February 6, 2013
When leading becomes a chore
Leadership can certainly mean we live busy lives. Unfortunately, sometimes the busyness begins to feel like obligations, and we forget the joy we had when we first felt called to lead. When things get tough, we start questioning whether we should be leading at all. And the one thing that could refresh us—more time with God, gets pushed to the side in favor of finishing up our leadership obligations.
It’s a tough spiral to beat, yet my guess is that you’ve been there. And you’ve made it through. But how can we learn from that experience and guard ourselves from falling into it again?
This blog post from Debbie Jansen on GiftedforLeadership.com shares some helpful insights. She writes that when she lives out her calling, her “eyes twinkle, [her] voice raises a notch, and [she feels] as if every cell in [her] body has just been elevated to alert status.” She goes on to say that it exhilarates and humbles her all at the same time.
What if we lived into our callings daily? Would it guard us from falling into the spiral of obligation and going through the motions?
Read the blog for yourself and then share with us below. What do you feel your calling is? And how does focusing on your calling help you live with less of an obligation mindset?