Why We Don’t Stop Meeting in the Summer

Jonah and I were talking about LIfeGroups today and how important it is that we meet year round and not simply during certain seasons. While talking, this post slowly developed, and we decided to share it with you! These are just some of the many reasons we meet during the Summer in LifeGroups.

1. Life Goes On. Ministry Goes On. – We don’t take a break from our relationships with God, so why would we take a break from growing inChrist with others? Life doesn’t stop, and neither does our great need to continually be connected with others in Christ. To press on and finish the race that we are in, we must continually realize that we cannot function without the Body of Christ – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

2.  Summer Should Equal Rest or Balance. – Even though Summer is a time of rest for kids and hopefully less stress for parents, it shouldn’t be a time that we take off from chasing after Jesus! More rest and free time doesn’t simply mean that we enjoy less stress, but it allows us to come to LifeGroups relaxed and ready to talk. It is easier for us to engage with others and grow together, when we are not stressed about everything else going on in life. The great key to Life in Christ is balance. – 1 Peter 3:17-18
3. Modeling For The Next Generation. –  This really falls in line with #2. The next generation looks at what we are doing now and often overdoes it later. When we model that sports, multiple vacations, and school schedules dictate our commitment to growing in Christ with our Church family, we are teaching those after us to treat Christ as a PART of our schedule and not THE FILTER for it.
– Proverbs 22:6
4. Time to Grow as Families in LifeGroup – LifeGroups should give us the opportunity to grow as entire families, not just as adults. The summer gives us the perfect time for groups to meet not just one day a week, but to have family fun. Grilling out, movie nights, lake days, picnics, ultimate frisbee; friends spend time together because they enjoy each other’s company. It shouldn’t be a scheduling nightmare, simply call a few families in your LifeGroup and spend time getting to know them. 
Those were 5 of our reasons that LifeGroups meet during the Summer and why you need to be a part of them. What are some of your reasons for meeting throughout the Summer in your LifeGroup? 

The Business of LifeGroups

I grew up watching my father be a salesman, and got the chance to ride with him on sales calls from about 8 years old until high school.He knew how to attract new costumers and take care of existing ones. During that time, I never realized how much of an impact watching my dad would have on me. It wasn’t long until I began selling products for him in College. Everything from counterfeit detectors to office furniture. It seemed that if a business needed a product, my dad sold it. After college I found a position at a lumber yard where my primary job was to sell supplies for do it yourselfers and small contractors.
     It may sound crazy, but I learned some incredibly valuable lessons that every Small Group leader needs to know:

1. Cold Calls are Warmer Than the Saying Implies.
     I remember being so nervous while calling potential costumers that I would often get to the last digit of the phone number and hang up because I was so nervous that I would mess the call up. After months of this, I finally realized that ‘cold calls’ really aren’t that cold. My job wasn’t to sell an office full of furniture in one call. In fact, the only reason a salesman cold calls is to get an audience with a potential customer. This completely changed my perspective!
Remember Leaders: You don’t have to convince every person you call for the first time about their need for community. They’ll make that decision on their own over time. Your goal is to simply get an audience with that person. Whether you go out for coffee to meet them or simply get them to visit your LifeGroup, let people see the great value of community based on what they see in front of them.
2. Satisfied Customers Bring More Business than Charismatic Salespeople.
     Sure, I could hook all the customers I wanted at first, but their business was short lived if they weren’t satisfied. I realized that cold calling may always be a necessity of building new business, but you grow faster when your customers tell others how happy they are with you! Everyone expects a salesman to push his own product, but people raise impressed eyebrows when costumers push your product without you knowing.
 Remember Leaders: You are not the only person who can reach out to newcomers! You should not, and cannot, be responsible for every call to reach out! Divide calls to group members so that potential LifeGroup visitors get to hear from someone other than the ‘recruiter’ that they expect to be excited. If your group is growing community with one another, then people will naturally take the time to talk about it.
3. Continual Care Means Repeat Business
     The first special order I sold at the lumber yard was a nightmare! What was supposed to take a week, 6 weeks! I remember being sick to my stomach every time I had to call my first customer and tell him that I was trying to get his cedar decking in, but it would be another week. At the very end of the whole ordeal I remember that Mr. Frye asked me to speak to my manager. I found out later that it wasn’t to complain. He simply wanted to thank us for what we had done to help him throughout the process to take care of him. Mr. Frye became a regular Do it yourself customer for us!
Remember Leaders: Following up and taking care of those in your group (even the tough ones) is what makes people realize that this isn’t a duty, it’s a real passion. Community fosters loving care for one another no matter the circumstances, and even when it looks like trials will never end, our impact is often far greater than we realize at first.

4. Relationships Build Lasting Business
     As a grade school boy, I remember my dad selling a large order to a regular customer at cost. I said, “Why would you do that?! You’re not making any money!” My dad looked down and said, “Sometimes you need to help take care of people, it’s not just about the money. We’re friends.” Wow, what a lesson. That man still does business with my dad 15 years later because relationships build lasting business. Friends will stick out the hard times and realize there is more than the bottom line holding them together.
Remember Leaders: It’s easy to get so caught up in trying to “grow your group” in size, that you forget to actually “grow your group” in friendships. Groups may come and go, schedules may change, and people may have special needs in certain seasons, but we are in this to build lasting friendships that mirror Christ. Groups that exist to build relationships grow in time, but groups that exist to simply grow numbers fail quickly because they have no foundation!

Why Small Groups are Vital to Your Spiritual Growth

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 11.18.23 AM

I love Sunday morning corporate worship. It energizes me to worship with other believers, and be challenged by good, solid preaching. But corporate gatherings allow me to sneak in and sneak out without having any type of community.

God has designed us to to live, worship, and grow with small groups of people.  The larger a church gets, the smaller it needs to get!  Life groups are intentional small groups of people meeting throughout the community “doing life together.”  Without a life group, we run a risk of falling away spiritually.

My friend Ben Reed at Longhollow Baptist Church in Nashville has put together a list of…

…Why Small Groups are Vital to Your Spiritual Growth

1. It’s too easy to hide in a large gathering.

It’s tougher to hide in a small group. 

2. It’s too easy to be passive during a sermon.

Wallflowers don’t last long in a small group.

3. There is little to no accountability.

Follow-through is much easier in a small group.

4. We’re prone to think we matter too little.

Small groups remind us that we are loved.

5. We’re prone to think we matter too much.

Small groups remind us that others have problems, too.

6. We’re prone to think, “they need to hear this.”

Small groups challenge us to personally apply Truth.

7. We’re prone to think, “this is only for me…”

Small groups keep us from cycling into destructive self-pity and loathing.

8. When we cry, there’s nobody to ask us, “What’s going on?”

Small groups don’t let tears go unchecked.

9. No food is allowed in most worship gatherings. #Lame.

We eat well in our small group.

10. “Be quiet while the pastor is preaching!”

Small group gives you time to have deep, life-stirring conversations with people.

11. Convictions go unchecked.

When the Spirit moves in small group, you’ve got time to slow down.

12. Specific needs go un-prayed for.

Small groups pray for the specific needs of their group members.

13. There’s no time for questions.

Small groups ask hard questions and allow for discovery.

Are you in a small group? Has it helped you grow spiritually?


Picked Last

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. 2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. – 1 Samuel 22:2
By the time I graduated college I had been teaching small groups for 4 years. I had taught mainly high school and middle school at that point, and as I found myself bold new world of adulthood one reality became increasingly clear: I couldn’t live life by myself, and the more I tried, the more I began to sink in my own walk with Christ. At every other point in my life, I had always been surrounded by people who loved and encouraged me to follow Christ, but I had reached a place where love, encouragement, and Christ followers were an increasingly rare commodity. I still had a great small group of high school students, but no one that could genuinely identify with my day to day struggles, or even have the same sense of humor and fun that I did. For a while I tried to convince myself that I was fine and that the strong were made to stand alone, and even though I was anchored to Christ, I knew that I was simply treading water while slowly trending downward.
Finally, after about a year, I joined a young singles small group at my church that met in the house of a pastor that I had grown up with. I struggled to even go because of the old church stigma that single’s groups were the places that high expectations came to die. The imaginary slogan running through my mind was “Can’t find a spouse? Neither can they! Join our group!” But I still went. Apprehensive, a little judgmental, but at the point that I wanted to share life with people who could simply identify with me. I had never been in an adult small group until that point. The leader was my age and married, not an old sage-like teacher, and the people that attended were really nothing like me. Some were older, some in totally different walks of life, others with careers in full swing, some had yet to find a career, and I was simply working a job to get me through grad school. It was nothing like what I expected and thank God it wasn’t. I began to realize as the weeks moved on that these people were more like me than my slogan allowed, and even their differences simply allowed me to see things from a perspective that God used to shape my life and vision to be more like Him. I even began to feel comfort in the fact that my leader was someone who could simply identify with me and walk alongside me. We may have been in slightly different stages, but we both struggled, and could walk alongside one another. I learned that leaders aren’t people who have it all figured out, they are simply chasing toward the answers faster than everyone else and encouraging them to come along.
I can’t help but think that David and his men felt the same way about each other as my I felt about my first adult small group. David was a great military commander, but at this point a fugitive from the king, and his band of men had one thing in common: they were all equally as alienated from society in one way or another. This isn’t the group I would have chosen if I were David, nor the commander I would have picked first if I was one of those 400 men, and it defiantly isn’t the situation anyone would want to be in. Yet it is amazing that these 400 distressed, indebted, discontented men became the bulk of David’s mighty men of great renown. They accomplished God sized tasks and reigned with David in the golden age of Israel. God took an unlikely crew and accomplished unprecedented tasks.
As a leader we often spend time thinking about what should be and what we want, but God has placed us in specific places, with specific people, with great purpose in mind. When you look at the group that God has given you to lead, the people he has opened up the doors to pursue, and yourself as a leader, the first inclination is to simply point out the flaws and resort to the what if’s that would improve your circumstances instead of realizing that God has gifted us with each of these things for a great and powerful purpose. So as you lead those God has entrusted to you, remember what this passage teaches us:
1. David was an anointed and wrongly accused felon, but still a felon on the run. We aren’t perfect and can’t be, but thankfully God doesn’t ask us to be. Our situations do not define us. Christ defines us so lead from that fact. Leaders who accomplish great things are often the last ones you would expect.
2. David identified with his men in, his own, brokenness and vulnerability, not in power and invulnerability. Followers know that leaders are not perfect and good leaders embrace that fact. When we are able to admit that we have struggles too, we allow others to find comfort that they are not inadequate, simply running with you.
3. The men that David had been given were a far cry from the armies he had previously led into battle. They were men on the fringes of society who struggled just like David, but God brought them together to do great things. Great leaders see the potential of what God has entrusted to them, and seek to develop it instead of simply looking for better stock to fit their mold.
Remember, you and your group were built to do things that you could scarcely imagine. The gates of Hell quake in fear when the purposes God has given us are realized! Don’t short sell what God picked specifically for you!