TOP 10 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED LEADING A SMALL GROUP

Although my day job is leading the high school ministry at my church, believe it or not I do sometimes get to talk to and even worship with adults. We are a church of small groups. We call them grace groups and I get to lead one. I thought I would share the top ten things I have learned leading a Grace (small) group over the last 4 years.

  1. Aim to meet every week-I don’t mean to speak down to different philosophies but I am a big fan of meeting often. I know groups who meet every 2 weeks and when you miss one you go 29 days without seeing the people you are supposed to be sharing life with.
  2. Do fun stuff together-Our group meets for a study 3 out of 4 weeks in a month, but for the 4th week we try to get everyone to go on a double date or we have a guys/girls night.
  3. Shake up the norm-We have done communion together, we have had thanksgiving dinner, we have even had thanksgiving communion dinner together!
  4. Over-communicate-My groups always get an email on Tuesday that says our vision in the first line and names the schedule ahead plus prayer requests, our covenant, and everyone’s contact info.
  5. Want to grow your group? Invite people to it-Last week as we started our new group we had half the couples in the room share how they came to the group simply from someone finding them on a Sunday morning in a service when they were new to the church and saying “are you in a grace group yet?
  6. Share life together-We are committed to stopping by each other’s house, going shopping together, and having each other over for dinner all throughout the week. We don’t just fill in the blanks for workbooks together.
  7. Make sure you know each other’s needs…rather than just saying you will meet them-America is private so it is often hard to even know the needs of others in a culture where they are not obvious.  We try to develop a culture where we are being vulnerable and transparent enough to share needs. Sometimes it is a babysitter for a date night and other times it has been the laying of hands on someone for a new job.
  8. The small group model is a great way to develop leaders-Not only do our groups have a co-leader (so we have multiplication in our DNA) but small groups are a great way to involve and give leadership to people from hosting, leading a prayer time, leading a study, leading worship and all kinds of other stuff.
  9. Don’t avoid confrontation-As you share life, accountability, prayer requests and dinner conversations with people you will know their best and their worst. If someone needs gently confronted don’t avoid it. I have done this as a people pleaser, but the most loving thing you can do is help someone be more life Christ, even if it means an uncomfortable conversation.
  10. New groups=new people-In the last 2 years I have been in 3 groups total. Our original group has multiplied twice . It isn’t rocket science, I have never seen a new group start and not fill up. New groups are a magnet for new people who see a spot for themselves.

MINISTRY=HUSTLING?

I had this thought the other day and almost didn’t do this post, because it seemed like something that would make people role their eyes and accuse me of heresy.

Before I explain I should define hustlin’.  It started out as guys who would take someone’s money in a pool hall back in the day.  Now it is a term that just means someone who is making things happen.  It can be a drug dealer, it can be a small business owner, and it can be tons of other people. It can be anyone who is making things happen.

People are tempted to shy away from a term like this because we know that all things flow from God and are because of Him, but what part does an individual play in their ministry.

Here is where I found the idea for this post. I see people all the time who start a small group, or a youth group, or other ministry and don’t do their due diligence to make it happen.  When things don’t work out they say, “I guess it just wasn’t in God’s plan. Without saying that I know God’s plan for all time and events, I have to wonder if they used the potential, gifts, timing, and resources available to them.  Many times those things are God’s plan sitting in front of us.

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Like almost every other pastor under the age of 40 in the USA I own my dot com.  I blog because I love the thoughts and insights of others and want to offer the same platform.  Blogs are a funny thing because you get to put what you want on them, but nothing else has to be seen.

When I hurt a volunteer or make a poor decision there is no post on that.  When I drop the ball on administration I am not always in a hurry to publicize.  Part of that is guarding the people I work with and not wanting to tear them down. But I have been thinking, How can I be more vulnerable in my blogging? How can I honestly admit things I am bad at and need to work on?

I hope to change that over the next few weeks.  Here are some things I am working on…

  1. I am creative and I have gotten better at incorporating more people into the worship planning and execution process BUT I am not using enough people and their gifts in creative planning of Wednesday nights.
  2. I have not given my adult staff as much time as they deserve. I knew that our size and numbers meant designing a system where I invest in people who invest in others and yet it hasn’t happened as it needs to yet.
  3. Still young, still arrogant.

You get the point, but I just wanted to publicly say that I love Grace Church to death, but it isn’t perfect. I love HSM to death but it isn’t perfect either. I pay $9 a year for markartrip.com but that doesn’t mean I am perfect or have figured things out.

Philippians 2-Humility

No extra commentary from me is needed….

Philippians 2

Imitating Christ’s Humility

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT 2.0

This past week I have been spending time trying to improve upon two gaps that have come up in our High School Ministry. As HSM has grown we have seen a need to shepherd/develop  adult and student leaders.

Don’t worry we are not stupid and know these things are essential to any successful ministry. Its not that we have been overlooking these things or that their need has caught us off guard.  The problem is that we need to develop Grace (small) group leaders faster than we used to.  We are seeing as numbers increase that vision can have more leaks and with more groups and more adults our students might not have our vision in their DNA as effortlessly as it once happened.

Questions that I want some comments/feedback on….

  1. How do you shepherd and develop adults?
  2. Do you use mid-level managers?
  3. How do you develop student leaders?
  4. Is it possible to do both through the same software/email/meeting?

MY RELATIONSHIP ADVICE TO HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS

I recently did a Q and A session with some girls on relationships. I sent them the following after our time together to sum up and re-state the night. I have a huge heart about this stuff and thought I would throw it up here…

Your relationship with God should always be number 1 in your life. That means now when you are in high school. That means when you are dating in college, that means when you are engaged after college, and it is the same when you are married.

IF A GUY NOW OR IN THE FUTURE GOES AGAINST THIS, HE IS NOT HONORING GOD.

No one is capable of loving you like God. (Romans 8:38-39)  His love is perfect. He set the example for us and defined love when he selflessly died on the cross.

I Corinthians 13:4-Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

KNOW WHO YOU ARE. You are a daughter of God-This means that you are made in his image and loved as His child. You are entitled to His love, His guidance, and an intimate love relationship like none other.

The world will not want you to know this, but you don’t ever need any love other than God’s. It is perfect and limitless.  You deserve God’s perfect agape love and nothing less.

Your body belongs to God and was bought when he died on the cross. This means that you should honor God physically.  Any guy who wants to lay down and make out, put his hands somewhere, or hit a triple, is treating you as his sex robot and is being self-seeking (the opposite of love) and is only worried about his desires and not treating you as the daughter of God that you are. This guy is putting his needs above you and your relationship with God.

We are told to flee (get as far away from as possible (from sexual immorality.  Like we talked about this doesn’t mean see how close you get until you get burned. Don’t tempt yourself; don’t tempt your brothers in Christ and honor God. You should commit now to be pure until marriage if you have not. God gives us this standard and gives us sex with your spouse as a metaphor of the intimacy between Him and his bride the Church.

You have the chance to protect that and give that to your husband to honor God.  It didn’t’ come up but it is worth the wait and obviously designed by a perfect God. You will never regret waiting.  Nuff said! If you have already slipped in this area, you can save yourself from now until that day and preserve a second virginity.

For someone to say that they love you they must know Christ so that they understand the standard of love.  People will let you down but someone who has the Holy Spirit working in them is capable of loving as Christ did when they are in step with the Spirit. If you are running after Christ, not standing still or being lazy, this should be a no brainer. II Corinthians 6 asks, “What business do light and darkness have together?” When you understand what it means to follow, live for, and glorify Christ this is a logical step to shed hindrances.

By God’s design, you are to be lead by your guy (husband). This doesn’t mean you are weak, or incapable.  It doesn’t’ mean that you have to slow down; it just means when a guy is living as he should he is out front setting the pace.  This means that you deserve a guy who leads you, not one who has been to church or saw the Da Vinci Code. You can hold a guy to the standard of leadership.

I mentioned that you guys should have a list of what you want so you will not settle for anything but the guidelines God has given. This list should include things like the ones I have already mentioned.

Christ follower

Able to lead

Displays I Cor. 13 love

Respects physical standards

And than the shallow stuff you want to add like tall, wants kids, athletic, red hair:)

The biggest misconception I see with looking for a guy today is that people think they have to date.  Dating is the problem because it creates the expectations for physical stuff and takes a toll on your emotions and yourself, which also belong to God and should also be preserved for your spouse. Naturally in your life you spend time with people and get to know them. You can get to know someone as friends. You don’t date to get to know them, you know them and date them if they match up to the list and deserve to be dated because they are keeper material. Dating is not a recreational activity; it is serious and involves your emotions.

Remember these areas are ones that even Christians and the church compromise on so often.  Our lives are to stand out and be counter-cultural when we are following God.  Don’t be shy about your sex life not looking like everyone else’s.  Don’t worry when they are all dating and breaking up every 6 months and you are hanging out in groups.

I think that is the end of my rambling for now, maybe I will think of more but I just wanted to say that stuff as it has been on my mind since you all left.

Kristin and I love you guys very much and pray for you all the time. Please don’t date some guy that is a loser and break my heart. I will do my best to look out for you and scare away losers and if you need help you can bring them over for that interview I promised.  I look forward to doing all of your wedding ceremonies someday and I will interview the guy anyway, so there’s no point in avoiding it:)

Thanks again for letting me pop into your group,

BOOK REVIEW: THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT – MIKE CALHOUN AND MEL WALKER

I was recently sent a book to check out: The Greenhouse Effect-Cultivating students to lead by Mike Calhoun and Mel Walker. I was already excited about the book because Ed Lewis of CE National and Momentum fame was a contributor, but I learned to like it for much more.  I was really impressed with the wealth of experience and knowledge it pulled upon as it taught tons of different ways to push students and think about how we develop leadership. This book has several other contributors who knows there stuff that we can all learn from.

“The Greenhouse Project is the collaboration of 16 national leaders in the arena of student ministry. Each of the authors approaches the issue — How are we going to train students for leadership? They speak from unique backgrounds, and answer the question with empirical ministry.  The Greenhouse Project is the result of over a century of collective student ministry experience authored by some of the most innovative thinkers in the industry.

Mike Calhoun of Word of Life and Mel Walker of Vision for Youth edit for a think-tank that includes Jay Strack (Student Leadership University), Greg Stier (Dare 2 Share Ministries), Alvin Reid (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary), Alex McFarland (Southeastern Evangelical Seminary) plus ten other authors. The sixteen chapter anthology provides a comprehensive exploration of Student Leadership dealing with topics ranging from discipleship of students, time management, and pursuing vocational ministry, mentoring girls and how to give students a Biblical foundation.”

To reserve your copy at a pre-release discount, email greenhouseproject@wol.org and receive a 1-chapter preview immediately. To receive updates about the project’s status, and insider information keep an eye on Mike Calhoun’s Facebook page, or Twitter account.