Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 10)

Keeping your eye in the right spot

I’m teaching my 11-year-old how to mow the grass. This was a significant marker in my life when my dad taught me, and I feel like in a way I’m passing the mantle to my son.

I’m convinced it’s good for him, even though he doesn’t yet think so.


It’s possible to cut your grass randomly and still get it all cut. But I love the way fresh cut striped grass looks. Maybe you’ve seen it at golf courses or baseball fields, with stripes stand out as if they’ve been freshly ironed. Naturally, I’m transferring this love to my son.


It’s not hard to stripe. Just keep the outside tire of your mower just outside the cut line, making sure the blades extend just to the edge of the previously cut line. Clip every blade. Keep your line straight.

#Goals


I’ve been giving my son more and more of a leash lately, so I let him cut the back yard “by himself” yesterday. And do you know what happened? There were little tiny strips of grass left uncut all over the yard. From one angle, the misses looked random. But as I walked up and down the rows, I realized they weren’t random at all. They were perfectly lined 1.5″ strips all up and down the yard. You know why?

Because he took his eye off the line. He would make the turn to go down the row, and his eyes would start looking at the amount of work still left to do. Our back yard is basically a square, so every turn you make, you can easily see how much is left to cut and how many more passes you’ve got to make. A minor 1.5″ off from each line doesn’t feel significant in the moment, and because he’s plowing ahead with each row, he doesn’t notice what he’s missing. All he noticed in the moment was how much work was still left to do. 


And it actually caused us to have to spend a lot more time, make a lot more passes after Rex thought he was finished. I brought him down each row, and said, “Look…here’s where you went off the path.”


Check this out, in Hebrews 12:2-3

[Look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.


So the command here is to “look to Jesus.” You’ve probably heard that before. But did you catch what happens when you take your eyes off of him? You “grow weary or fainthearted.”

I’ve found myself growing weary and fainthearted recently. With piles of emails awaiting me, kids at home doing school, and ongoing commitments 3-4 nights/week, I’ve felt pretty scorched at the edges. The way I know I’m growing weary is not that I get physically tired…it’s that I get physically short on patience. Everything becomes an interruption, and people get in the way of what I’m trying to do. I’ve heard it said that one of the best ways to check your heart and test whether you’re growing in spiritual maturity or not is to look at your closest relationships and ask yourself, “Am I growing more patient and loving? Or less?”

Instead of looking at Jesus, my eyes drifted to the work that I still needed to do. The emails, meeting, and events. The homework, tests, and projects.

When I keep my eyes on Jesus, it gives me the freedom to be ruthlessly present with whoever and whatever is in front of me. Because as I keep my eyes on Jesus, it helps me to not grow weary or fainthearted, impatient and frustrated with those around me. I grow weary when I think things depend on me. Keeping my eyes on Jesus allows me to trust that the work will still be there when I return. That Jesus will build his church, and that he doesn’t “need” me (though he chooses to use each of us). This doesn’t exempt me from doing work. In fact, it empowers me, realizing that I’ve got the King of the universe working in and through me.

Peace only happens in my life when I surrender to the Prince of Peace.

The moment I put my eyes squarely on my work, the more weary and fainthearted I become. I have to trust Jesus is going to take care of that as long as I keep my eyes on him and keep moving forward.

I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. – Jesus, Matthew 16:18

 

Joy in repetition

I tossed my 2-year-old in the air, and he laughed. The kind of infectious laugh that compels you to laugh along. I love doing this with my kids. It’s a way to simulate danger, and help my kids face their tiny fears in a safe, controlled environment full of love and comfort and security (which, side note, should be a goal of all parenting. But that’s another post for another day.)

He goaded me to do it again. 

I obliged. 

He laughed again. 

Then goaded me again. 

I, this time, begrudgingly obliged. 

He laughed again, with as much gusto as if this was the first time he’d ever experienced this sensation of flying. 

Then goaded me again. 

By this time I was done. 

“Ok buddy, that’s enough. Go play.” 

I was feeling not just silly, but bored. Kinda over it. Ready to move to the next thing. 

Yet he reflected a nature of God that I don’t. A joy in repetition.  

Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name. – Jeremiah 31:35

We should be thankful for this attribute of God. It’s an attribute marked by consistency and reliability. Think about how many crucial parts of our lives depend on this: the sun rising and setting, the earth spinning on its axis. The tides rising and falling, the waves crashing on the shore. The rain falling, the trees growing, the air moving about the surface of the earth. Mundane, everyday occurrences that you aren’t conscious of until you focus on them. But mundane, everyday occurrences that were they to cease, it’s all you’d focus on.

“If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.” – Jeremiah 31:36

We value creativity: ideas and processes and buildings and ministries and relationships that are new. We scoff at “more of the same.” When something has remained the same for an extended period of time, we roll our eyes because it’s grown stagnant.

Yet if it weren’t for this attribute of God, we would be doomed. The sun would stop. Earth would stop circling the sun. It would stop raining. And, according to Jeremiah 31:36, we would stop being God’s children. There’s something hauntingly beautiful about repetition. Something we should lean in to, and embrace for its ability to hold life itself together.


So next time your kid asks you to toss them in the air for the hundredth time in a row, be reminded of the nature of God. And find space to be thankful. 

 

The 3-fold cord

One of my favorite history authors is David McCullough. He wrote a book The Great Bridge, which chronicles the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a fascinating read on the political and logistical and engineering feat that brought this bridge to life. This was, and still remains, an incredible architectural marvel.

Designed by John Roebling and finished by his son Washington, the bridge is over a mile long, stretching from Brooklyn to Manhattan, built to greatly decrease travel time between the two cities. Brooklyn was a small town, and this bridge greatly changed its landscape. According to stats from the NYC Department of Transportation, every day more than 120,000 vehicles, 4000 pedestrians, and 2600 bicyclists cross. That’s a lot of traffic. And a lot of weight.

The Brooklyn Bridge is a cable suspension bridge, meaning the entire weight of the bridge, and pedestrians like my son and I walking across, is held aloft hundreds of feet above the water by these cables.


Workers would splice wires together then tie them to make long strands. Then they’d attach them to a boat, which would take them from Brooklyn over to Manhattan. There are over 14,000 miles of wire in the bridge. Each cable has 19 separate strands, which each has 278 separate wires. McCullough says this of the wires themselves:

All cables rightly pull their load.

This was a passing comment, but it stuck out to me. There’s nothing passive about these wires. Each individual cable has a role they play, an activate participant in sustaining this massive structure that’s longer, heavier, and more substantial than any single wire on its own. Each pulls their “load.” No more, and no less. And without each pulling their amount, the entire structure is in jeopardy.

I’ve heard this passage from Scripture thousands of times:

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12

Typically I’ve heard it in the context of a marriage sermon: it’s you, your spouse, and God. And the idea is simple: just hang on to each other (your spouse and God) and you won’t be quickly broken. Almost as if the goal is just survival.

But what if this concept that Solomon laid out isn’t really just about surviving marriage? What if it’s bigger than that?

In hermeneutics class, we were taught to not take a verse out of its context. So go check the context out HERE.

This is the point in Ecclesiastes where Solomon is visually seeing lots of oppression. Which, last time I checked, you and I area surrounded by. Day in and day out. Whether it’s in your own city or you’re watching from afar, we see oppression. And in this time of oppression, what’s the rally cry?

Unite!

Because in times of oppression, we practically realize that we can’t do this on our own.  When the seas are calm, we’re lulled in to thinking we can survive on our own. Yet rough waters give way to locked arms.

Solomon’s wisdom here, in the face of oppression, feels much more active. Instead of nice, shiny, fancy, loosely tied rope at a wedding ceremony, I wonder if the Brooklyn Bridge isn’t a stronger application. When each of us, with our inherent brokenness, our past failures, current strengths and giftings, resources and ideas, choose to link arms together we become a bridge that can weather storms. That can stand the test of time. That can endure being trampled. Hundreds of thousands of times every day. When every cable rightly pulls their load, we all become stronger.

But when a few cables think they can just go at it alone, we all grow weaker.

It’s true that this season has caused us to explore uncertainty in new ways, but it’s also true that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Now is not the time to navigate on your own. Now is the time to grow stronger together. To become the Church that Jesus instituted.

And on the other side of this crazy year, the Church will be stronger than ever. Looking more like Jesus than ever. And beaming our light of hope from the shore.

 

3 truths to learning contentment

It’s difficult to thrive in a season we’re currently in, faced with a global pandemic that doesn’t seem to show signs of slowing. Besides the fact that the virus exists, the measure our society has taken to curtail its spread has upended most of our lives. Especially our rhythms.

Rhythms are so important in life. With the right rhythm, movement becomes beautiful, artistic dance. Something worth marveling at and replicating. With the wrong rhythm, movement becomes awkward, stilted, and, painful to watch.

In a season like we’re all in, it’s tough to find your footing. And we can easily find ourselves turning to lots of different things to satisfy us. From our vice of choice to our jobs, from binging the latest on TV to obsessing over our outdated kitchens that we’re forced to stare at all day every day, discontentment hangs on to our shoulders like a wet blanket. It drips water on everything we touch. It jades our responses, emotions, and resolve. And it’s like trying to quench our thirst by drinking sand. The more you drink, the thirstier you get.

This feels like the kind of season that the Apostle Paul would lean in and give us encouragement during. Because it’s encouragement, hope, and perseverance we need right now. In Philippians 4, Paul says this:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

You’ve heard that last sentence above, likely quoted on a motivational poster of a marathon runner telling you that you can sprint a marathon. Out of context, that interpretation seems valid. Within context, though, it takes on a much deeper meaning. Paul can “do all things” because he has learned contentment. Meaning he’s walked through different seasons of life, and God’s driven him to a deep, abiding satisfaction despite his circumstances.

I bet Paul, if he were writing today, would say something like: “I have learned to be content…while being quarantined, while not knowing the future of our culture, while not being able to go to gyms or restaurants…”

A global pandemic makes it hard to find contentment. But it’s the perfect soil for exploring. My grandpa has a farm with a creek bed that’s perfect for exploring. In it you’ll find rocks, bugs, shells, crawdaddys, and Native American money. I was able to show our kids the wonders and joys of it while we were there this summer. The more you stare at the creek bed, the more you see. At first glance, you just see a bunch of random rocks. But as your eyes adjust, you see layers and layers of treasure.

So what does it mean to learn contentment like Paul mentions? How do we explore it in this season?

3 truths to learning contentment

1. It’s a process.

This process oftentimes involves pain before it produces fruit. Look at Paul’s life: he learned contentment through some pretty painful experiences. And contrast that with Jesus’ words that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and you’ve got the extremes covered. The process involves you walking through these only to realize that you’re not in control. And that circumstances don’t determine contentedness.

2. It takes time.

Every time you walk through a new, previously unknown season, you’ve got the chance to walk through becoming more content in who God has created you to be and what He’s created you to do. When my wife and I went through premarital counseling, our pastor said something that has stuck with me: don’t get married to someone you haven’t experienced all 4 seasons with. The principle was this: you can’t know you love someone until you see them in multiple scenarios. The same is true with contendedness: you can’t know if you’re content until you’ve experienced life.

3. It takes trust.

Ultimately, contendness involves you trusting. Trusting that He will make your paths straight, that His plan is better than yours, and taking a risk on His ways.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4

You can’t delight in someone you do not trust. And as you delight, your desires change. And as your desires change, you become more content.

Trust in God –> delight in God –> contentment in all things

Keep your eyes on Jesus. He’s the author and the perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) And the one that offers true contentment.

 

Carpe Opportunity: Stepping toward our fears

If you’re a leader, you no doubt have built it as a habit to recruit other leaders around you. 

In the business world, that’s called talent acquisition. In the church world, it’s called volunteer recruitment. In sports, it’s called tryouts. In parenting, it’s called, “Help!

In my role as a pastor, I’m constantly looking for others I can bring on to my team. Some times, I have a role I’m trying to fill. Other times, I’m trying to find a role for a rockstar with amazing potential. 

This time for me, the couple I was talking to fit both bills. I was calling them to join our team or writers that creates our weekly sermon discussion guides. Every week we build a discussion experience for individuals and groups to access, to help take the sermon further than Sunday mornings. This couple and I had a great discussion. I vacillated between vision-casting, logistics, sharing my heart for theology and life change, and “next steps” for the future of where this is going.

And I realized that this is an opportunity that is a no-brainer for them. It’s something they have both had extensive training for, both professional and practical. They can step in to this role and do it in their sleep. What will take them 2-3 hours to complete at an A+ level would take others 10-15 hours. To get a C+. They’re going to step on to this team and make a big impact.
As our conversation wrapped up, I off-handedly mentioned the two of them potentially stepping in to lead a small group in the future.

They froze.

I thought it was just our internet connection.

This opportunity wasn’t on their radar, nor was it in their comfort zone. They instantly began thinking through the barriers and resistors to this opportunity, and the reasons why now isn’t the right time and why they’re not the right people. You’ve done the same thing.

Jesus came to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” – Finley Peter Dunne

When it comes to opportunities God has put in front of you, don’t just pursue the ones you can do in your sleep. Pursue the ones that cause you to lose sleep. [TWEET THAT]

Those are the ones that are outside of your comfort zones, and the ones you have to depend on God and others more than ever. If you, in your own strength, wisdom, experience, and power can do the work in front of you, it takes no faith. And with no faith, there is no growth.

If God called His own Son to remain with something that was uncomfortable (Mark 14:35-36), because He had a greater redemptive plan, shouldn’t we expect that same?

So step out towards that thing that makes you afraid. That causes you to lose sleep. Seize the opportunity that’s in front of you, not so you can tout your accomplishment. Seize it BECAUSE it makes you fearful, BECAUSE you have to trust God anew, and so that you can brag on the God who redeems all things.

 

Exploring uncertainty

We are in unprecedented times. In the midst of a global pandemic, Church hasn’t changed, but the way we do it has.

Recently, I’ve been asked what our plans for the upcoming season look like. Will we launch new groups in the same way we have before? Will we offer connection events? Will people want to enter a group leader’s home (that they don’t know) to interact with relative strangers?

Will chips and salsa ever make their return to small group life?

In times past, I have trained leaders to not stress over a perfectly clean house. Instead, I’ve encouraged them to invite people in to their lives, piles of old mail and all. This was a push for authenticity and vulnerability: don’t stuff the piles of mail or your struggles under the bed.

But now, where masks are becoming the norm, hand sanitizers expected, and cleanliness not just a value for some but a necessity for most, we find ourselves as groups pastors in unprecedented times.

So what do we do?

I’d love to give you the neat and easy steps to ensuring a group’s success, or the hard-and-fast “you must do this to launch new groups in your context” kind of post. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury. And whether you’re a small business owner, a public school teacher, a nurse, a stay-at-home-dad, or a pastor, you know this to be true. And anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying to you or trying to sell you something.

As always, I’ve found the Scriptures to be an amazing guide. They don’t always tell us every single step to take. But they show us the path, and teach us how to walk on it. Check this out:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

I’ve read this thousands of times. But in light of our current season, I find a renewed hope here. What’s the best next step for you to take?

Trust in the Lord. With all of your heart. We’re prone to leaning on our own understanding, which is oftentimes gained from years of experience. And when we do that, sometimes we “win” and sometimes we “lose.” But what happens when we “trust in the Lord”?

Sometimes we “win” and sometimes we “lose.”

But there’s a much different outcome when we trust in the Lord. Even when we “lose,” our paths are made straight.

My kids love to ride their bikes in our neighborhood, and at the end of our road there’s a gravel drainage area. It’s basically a basin, with a downward-sloping hill on all 4 sides: the perfect place to ride a bike. But riding across crushed granite doesn’t net you the kind of speed you want as an 11-year-old boy. So my kids got to work, moving rocks and dirt to the side in order to make a path. It was hard work. And it took them a long time. But the result was something they were really proud of. “Dad,” my son said with a puffed out chest. “Come check out what we’ve done.”

The Hebrew word for “straight” in this passage denotes the clearing of a road, to make it safe. Everybody loves a straight path, but not everyone wants to go through the painstaking process it takes for that path to be made straight.

The painstaking process begins with trust. Not a blind trust that runs head-first off a cliff. But a trust that takes one step at a time down a path that’s being made straight. The path that proves the One that’s carving it out is worth being trusted.

So what should you do as a business owner this next season? Trust in God. Then take a step.

What should you do as a pastor? Trust in God. Then take a step.

As a single person? Trust in God. Then take a step.

As a small groups pastor that is uncertain what the future of groups will look like? Trust. In. God. Then take a step.

As we’re all in a season of exploring uncertainty together, may our first step not be giving glib “do this” answers. But may we, despite our callings, start with trust.

 

Excessive, annoying grace

Confession:
I like coffee. And maybe (said while squinting my eyes and making the universal pinching symbol for tiny) I am a little excessive about it. Just maybe.

I have just a few different ways of brewing coffee. Here’s what I’ve got:

Chemex
Aeropress
Toddy
V60 Hario
Stove top Italian Espresso Mokka
Iced coffee brewer
Espresso machine
Manual Espresso maker
French press
Traditional brewer
Keurig

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You never know what kind of coffee you’ll need. Seriously. I may need to make lattes for guests, or a pot of clean coffee for me and…well, I’d probably just drink the whole pot of Chemex. *Confession alert.*

Or maybe it’s hot outside and an iced coffee is preferred. Or maybe we have a lot of people in the house that could care less about the taste of their coffee and I’ll get the Keurig out. 😃

Regardless, I’ll bet you look at my coffee brewing collection and say I’ve got a little too much. Too many options. You probably have just 1 way, maybe 2, of brewing your coffee at home, and can’t imagine why a person in their right mind would need more. You may even say that my collection is a bit excessive. I can see why you’d say that.

Because you don’t love coffee as much as I do.

I love drinking it. Sipping it. Gulping it. Making it. I love the art and science of making the *perfect* cup.

And I especially love serving it to others.

You may not appreciate my excessive approach, until you’ve had a cup from my house. I can guarantee you that it’ll be the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had. Ever.

Annoying obsessions

There are lots of things we see other people doing things that are excessive seem excessive and annoying to us, right? When people collect items we don’t care about, it seems odd to us. From comic books to cars. Baseball cards. Pokemon. Pogs  (remember those??). Signatures from famous people. Action figures. Barbies. Buttons. Cameras. Typewriters. Fountain pens.

And coffee equipment. It’s annoying to you. You may think, “Why would anyone need so many different ways to brew a cup of hot dirt?” But I assure you, I do. And if you enjoy coffee as much as I do, you will appreciate my collection.

Grace

Grace: noun \ˈgrās\ Unearned favor from God.

Grace is the same way. I need excessive amounts of it.  I realize the gap between who I am and who God’s created me to be. I see the mistakes I have made and continue to make. And I need grace each and every morning. I need it by the bucketfuls. I need it so much that I preach and teach on it. I tweet it. I talk about it in conversation. I need it in every different form I can get. I get it and I give it.

Without it, I’m bankrupt.

If you don’t feel like you need it, my obsession is strange. Which means I may be annoying to people. More often than not, it’s annoying to “church” people. People that “have life all figured out.” People that think it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.  Sorry, folks, I’ll take all of the “good thing” I can get.

Side note: I’m so thankful I’m not at a “churchy” church. My church is a place where it’s ok to be in process, ok to still be figuring things out. Ok to not be ok (but not ok to stay that way).

It’s impossible to abuse grace. Because it’s meant to be applied when you’re at your worst and when you think you’re at your “best.” Even our “best” is filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) So even in my best year in my best season on the best hour of the best day…I still fall woefully short. I’m still in need of grace to cover me. When perfection is in demand, I’ll choose to let someone else live it.

Grace is always needed. Never earned. Paid for already. (John 1:14-17)

To get that grace, you’ve just got to ask. (Romans 10:9-10)

If you want the favor of the King, cast all of your eggs in the basket of grace. That’s where mine are.


 

Tim Cooper, North Point Community Church, interview

I recently got to interview Tim Cooper, director of leader training and resources at North Point Community Church, and organizer of their upcoming small groups conference ReGroup (which is a must-go-to conference for anyone on a church staff or that serves in small group leadership).

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1. Be honest, Tim. It’s your job to put this conference on. If it wasn’t, is this still a conference you’d attend?

Before I was on staff at North Point, I paid to come to several North Point conferences. I’ve always been a fan of the passion and excellence that North Point puts into Community Groups. Now it’s a privilege to get to be a part of putting on a conference so other churches can see our approach. So, yeah, I’d attend.

2. Now that you’re in the third year of hosting re:group, what have you learned? What will be different this year?

We sent a survey to everyone that attended last year and there were several breakouts they specifically requested. Based on some common themes, we’ve added five to this year’s list of breakouts. In particular, Bill Willits is leading a breakout called “Transitioning to a Group Model.” It’s the most requested topic in our survey results, and Bill has a ton of wisdom to bring to the table. I’m really excited for attendees to hear what he has to say.

3. What are you most looking forward to this year at the event?

Two things come to mind. First, we don’t pretend we have all the answers. We still have a ton to learn. So, the oppportunity to interact with other ministry leaders and to hear about their challenges and successes is really exciting. Second—and I think this is related to my first point—I love it when others churches get to meet our team. Most people coming to re:group know who Andy Stanley is, but not many of them know our Groups staff. They’re a collection of humble, wise, and gifted people that care so much about helping groups ministries thrive. Watching other churches interact with our staff is always one of my favorite parts of any conference we do.

4. Why should someone peel back the curtain on North Point’s small group system?

Figuring out how you build or grow a groups ministry at your church is tricky. It’s a real uphill struggle for a lot of churches. At re:group, you won’t just be exposed to our approach to groups ministry; you’ll get a lot of practical information about how to implement and grow a culture of groups. You’ll get to see what it looks like when a thriving church is all-in with groups. That can be great motivation for senior pastors and other leaders trying to create a thriving groups ministry.

Are you going to ReGroup?


 

A change for the Reed family

When God calls, you’ve got to go.

Well, I guess you don’t have to go. But to not go would be disobedience, and that’s not a choice I’m ready to commit to. So my family and I…we are going. With buckets full of bittersweet joy.

At the end of the month, I will be joining the Saddleback Community Church staff on the groups team!

This is a very bittersweet move for us. We’re leaving behind so many great relationships at Long Hollow. And beyond that, all of our family connections are here in the middle Tennessee area. We’re leaving what we know, who we love, and where we naturally find comfort. We’re leaving behind a culture that’s woven into our DNA. We’re leaving behind our Tennessee roots.

But to be joining Saddleback, and the work God’s already doing through them in both Southern California and around the world, is for us a step towards something that we feel like God’s been preparing us for for a long time.

We never saw our road at Long Hollow as just preparing grounds. We never treated it as such, either. We poured every ounce of our hearts, our lives, our energy, our minds, our bodies, our ideas, our love, our pain, our laughs, our screams, and our tears into the mission God called us to at Long Hollow. We never felt called through Long Hollow. We felt called to Long Hollow.

But at the end of the day, aren’t all experiences training grounds for what’s next? Doesn’t God always use people and places, whether good or bad, to shape our hearts for the next step? Don’t all things work to make us more like Jesus? (Romans 8:28-29)

So we’re moving. With as much excitement as we have fear. With as much eager anticipation as we have sadness.

With boldness we are taking a courageous step of faith.

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10 things a small group leader has to stop doing

There’s a lot of talk about what small groups need to look like. How they need to be structured, what they need to study, and where they need to go.

Through all of this, group leaders can become overwhelmed. Group leaders want to have a healthy group, and instead of adding more to their plate, it’s time to start taking things away. There are tasks that are killing your group. And killing you, too.

Let’s quit those together.

10 things a group leader should stop doing

1. Stop talking so much.

Group leaders need to listen way more than they talk. Listen to stories. Listen for pain. Listen for God’s voice in the midst of their group. Instead, most group leaders want to try to impress their group by how much they know and how close to God they are.

But that’s not what group members are looking for. And they’re not impressed.

2. Stop thinking so much.

Just love people and lead them to Jesus. Don’t make it so difficult. When you’re consumed by “planning,” the heart of the group gets lost. If you want to stop your group from sliding off of the hill, stop thinking so much. Let the Spirit prompt you in the moment. Maybe you’ve been relying on your plans and your agenda more than you have on God leading you. Instead of your leadership flowing out of your relationship with God, it’s flowing out of your to-do list.

3. Stop canceling group meeting.

This has got to quit. Let your group know that the weekly meeting is happening, even if it’s just you and your spouse. Don’t cancel because half of the group is out sick. Let this be an opportunity to get to know the other half of your group in a way you can’t when everyone’s there.

Oh, wait…you, the leader aren’t going to be there? Then it’s a perfect time to give someone else the reigns and help them develop as a leader.

4. Stop meeting every week.

(Hey, it’s my blog. I can contradict myself if I want. 🙂 ) It might be time to give people a breather. Take a week, or two, off. Recharge for what’s coming. Let people invest in their family. Let people relax. Then come back ready to dive back into small group.

5. Stop sticking with a curriculum even though it’s terrible.

If a curriculum isn’t working for your group, throw that junk away. It’s not worth driving your group into the ground over. You might even put the curriculum down for the night and just study the Scriptures together. Try asking these 3 questions of a text:

a. What does this passage say? (just repeat it in your own words)

b. What does this passage tell me about God?

c. Based on what this passage says, what are you going to do?

6. Stop simply studying together as a group.

Small group life is so much more than just a Bible study. It encompasses doing life together, not just studying together. Serve, pray, go, do, and laugh.

7. Stop viewing group as a 1.5 hour program.

If you want to stop doing something today that will have a huge impact quickly, then stop thinking that your group is relegated to a 1.5 hour meeting once/week. Work it in your schedule to meet with at least one person/week in your group outside of your normal meeting time. At this meeting, just get to know them a little better. Buy them a cup of coffee, and listen.

8. Stop being scared of “obedience.”

Sometimes you’ve just got to push people. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and you’ll probably get pushed back. But small groups help people obey, not just know, the Scriptures.

9. Stop telling people what they have to believe.

Give people space to explore. Push towards obedience, but give people the freedom to explore their relationship with Jesus without feeling like they need to have all of the answers and have all of their life figured out. Let them know it’s really okay to be “in process.”

10. Stop making group boring.

Shake up your routine. Change locations, studies, discussion facilitators, or prayer time. Plan a retreat, or give some practical homework. Or just throw all of that out of the window and play a game with your small group. Routines are good, but they can work against you if you stick closer to those than you do to the mission of your small group: helping people take steps of faith together.

Anything else you’d add, that a group leader should stop doing?


 
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