7 Biblical Questions to Assess the Level of Your Group’s Community

How is your group doing at restoring biblical community? Use these 7 questions in your group to help you answer that question. Ask your members to assess your group using a 1–5 scale, 1 being “not at all” and 5 being “100 percent.” Then discuss how you can grow as a group in each of these.

  • Are we devoted to one another in brotherly love? Do we honor one another above ourselves (Romans 12:10)?
  • Do we “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way … fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2)?
  • To what degree does our group “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21)?
  • Do we “encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13, emphasis added)?
  • Do we “admonish one another” (Colossians 3:16)?
  • Is our group a place where people can confess their sins to each other and pray for one another so that they can be healed (James 5:16)?
  • Most importantly, are we growing “to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15)?

How well is your group at biblical community? Use these 7 assessment questions. Click To Tweet

Question: What do you think will result when you assess your group with these 7 questions? Leave a comment by clicking the Comment bar at the bottom of the page.

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week for June 20-24, 2016

TIPS of Week 2016-06-24_02
Here are last week’s Small Group Leader TIPS as Tweeted, posted on our Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.
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Monday, 6/20: Often the best way to disciple ppl is to get them out of their comfort zones for Jesus. #countthecost

Tuesday, 6/21: One of the best ways to build real community is to serve together as a group. #insideout

Wednesday, 6/22: Set the tone for appropriate transparency. Leaders must prayerfully and boldly model this.

Thursday, 6/23: Developing transparency in your group begins with your transparency with God. #overflow #realcommunity

Friday, 6/24: Before you can be an authentic, transparent group, you must be a trusting group that keeps confidentialities.

Go ahead: Copy and paste these to tweet or post them to your followers!

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS here!


Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week for June 13-17, 2016

Here are last week’s Small Group Leader TIPS as Tweeted, posted on our Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.


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Monday, 6/13: Pray as a grp this week for everyone affected by the #OrlandoShooting. #Love

Tuesday, 6/14: This week make it a point to mourn with those who mourn (Ro. 12:15). #Love #Compassion

Wednesday, 6/15: Ask each grp mbr to write why your group exists. Then discuss and use to cast a biblical vision. #mission

Thursday, 6/16: Find creative ways to get the kids involved in your next mtg #faith #discipleship

Friday, 6/17: Find creative ways to honor fathers this week. #Love #dads #respect

Go ahead: Copy and paste these to tweet or post them to your followers!

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS here!

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week for June 6-10, 2016

Here are last week’s Small Group Leader TIPS as Tweeted, posted on our Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 6/6: Encourage mbrs of your community to spend time in solitude w/ God. Each practice makes the other stronger.

Tuesday, 6/7: Try different approaches to Bible study. e.g., Read various “I will” statements of God and discuss/apply.

Wednesday, 6/8: Try this: Study a “one another” pssg from the NT each week and find specific ways of doing each one.

Thursday, 6/9: Tell grp mbrs to find a Bible verse on a topic (i.e. ldrshp) and come to next mtg ready to discuss it.

Friday, 6/10: Ask this question: What can we learn/apply as a GROUP from this Bible passage?

Go ahead: Copy and paste these to tweet or post them to your followers!

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS here!

Jesus’ Leadership Order

Jesus started his church by calling a few normal, workaday guys to follow him, and then he made a remarkable statement. He told these unschooled, unspectacular, blue-collar guys that he’d turn them into leaders who would make an eternal difference in people’s lives (see Matt. 4:18-20) and ultimately the world.

Jesus reiterated the point sometime later when he called together a bunch of the folks he had asked to follow him and asked 12 of them to take their following to the next level. He called these disciples to be a part of a select small group of “apostles,” men who would be enlivened, equipped, empowered, and entrusted to lead his church (Mark 6:13).

That’s what Jesus does, still, today. He takes regular, ordinary men and women and calls them; first as followers and then as sent leaders. It’s always in that order.

Someone who cannot be a humble follower should never become a leader. 

By following the Master Leader, you learn how to lead and how not to lead. As you spend time with him, you see his heart for people and you catch hold of that great compassion. As you abide with him, he pours his love and power and grace into you so that you can then overflow that same love, power, and grace into those around you.

In other words, following Jesus forges you into a leader. 

The anvil of real Christian leadership is a follower of Jesus who becomes more and more like Him.

Before you lead your small group this week, be sure to be a follower first. Spend time with Jesus and allow him to saturate your mind and heart with his love and wisdom. This may sound odd, but don’t pray—at least not in the way you usually think of prayer, as uttering so many words. Just sit with Jesus and enjoy his presence. Ask him to lead you. Then let him.

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10 Tips for Making Your Group Less Scary and More Welcoming to New People

10 Tips for Making Your Group Less Scary and More Welcoming to New People

You may not realize it, but visiting a small group for the first time can be intimidating. Here’s are 10 ways to make it easier for a new person to fit in.

The first time I attended a small group meeting, I drove around the block several times before finally getting up the nerve to walk up to the door of the host home. This was one of the scariest experiences of my life! I didn’t know what to expect and wondered if I’d fit in. Over the years, I’ve loosened up and I’ve also learned how to make groups more inviting and accepting for new people. Here are ten ideas:

  1. Pay attention to inherent inviting rhythms. When is the best time to invite a friend to your group? If your group is in the middle of a six-week study, will it be awkward for new person to join you? Instead, perhaps you could wait for the beginning of a new study. Is there “stuff” going on in your group that needs to be worked out before inviting a new person? For instance, if you’re in the midst of a group conflict, it may not be a good time to ask someone new to join you! Or if you’re working through a tender issue, such as a couple’s serious marriage problems, deal with that first.
  2. Make it natural. People balk to invitations that feel forced or unnatural. Instead, try these steps:
    • Pray for your friends you’d like to invite. Ask God to open their hearts and to give you opportunities to grow your friendship.
    • Invite your friends into your life before you invite them into your group. Spend time together.
    • Introduce them to a couple other people in your group. Find common ground between your friend and another member of your group. Go to a ballgame, movie, or out to lunch together.
    • Before you invite them to an official group meeting, extend an invitation to a fun group event. This is a great way to break the relational ice in a more natural social setting.
    • Talk about your group, why you like it, and how it’s helped you grow. Share this in the natural rhythms of conversation. Don’t force it!
    • When you sense the time is right, simply ask your friend to join you the next time you meet. The best time to do this is at the beginning of a new study topic that would be of interest to your friend. By this time, your friend may be waiting for an invitation!
    • When they agree to come, tell them what to expect. Think about what you would want to know before coming to your first meeting, such as what to wear, what to bring, what you’ll be doing, how long the meeting will be, and so forth. If they have kids, be sure to tell them what arrangements the group has for them. If the group does not provide child care, perhaps offer to help arrange something with them.
  3. Pick them up. It will reduce their anxiety (and assure they don’t back out) if you offer to drive them and walk into the host home together.
  4. Have a plan for when new people show up. Be prepared to do something fun and non-threatening when a new person joins you the first time. Your group may be at a good-friend or even family level in your relationships, but the new person is probably at best an acquaintance with most of the other members. So plan some entry-level activities. Don’t expect them to jump right in to the existing group dynamic. Watch out for things like insider jokes.
  5. Be authentic. A tension exists between having a plan for when new people show up and being authentic. Just walk this tightrope the best you can. I’ve found the best way to break this tension is to talk about it. Say something like, “Ellen, we’re really glad you’ve joined us tonight. This group started two years ago with Bob and Donna and Heidi and me. Jim and Jenny joined us a couple months ago . . .” (This shows Ellen that new people joining the group is normal.). “We’ve become pretty good friends and well, we have our idiosyncrasies, too. You know, everybody’s normal till you get to know them!” (Laughter is a great icebreaker.) Then explain what you’ve been up to as a group and where you’re going. But don’t make a long speech detailing every aspect of your group. Your guest will figure stuff out as you go. Encourage members of your group to be themselves. Your guests will find out soon enough who you really are.
  6. Be normal. You’re a Christian small group, so your guest will expect you to talk about spiritual things. But it’s also fine to talk about sports, work, kids, movies, and so forth. Talk about what each of you is passionate about. If you have been praying for this person, it’s OK to let them know that (without getting overly serious about it).
  7. Introduce everyone. When a group starts, we usually introduce ourselves and tell our stories. When new people show up, it’s like a new group to them. The rest of the group may have moved past history-sharing icebreakers, but these are very helpful when a guest joins you. “Where did you grow up?” “Who was your best friend growing up?” These and other such questions can help get everyone on the same page faster.
  8. Explain (almost) everything. If you had never been to a small group, what would you like to have explained? Of course, don’t overdo this, but take a moment during the meeting to clarify what you are doing and why. By the way, what seems normal to you may seem odd or confusing to a non-Christian. Be careful not to be condescending!
  9. Don’t assume that a guest will or will not read, pray out loud or not, or engage in conversation. Just ask.
  10. Have fun! Almost everyone likes to be part of something fun and as Christians we should be known by having a sense of joy. People will come back to a group that is learning and growing together from God’s Word and is fun, too! (See +Ben Reed‘s article, “5 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Group Fun.”)

Most institutions exist for the people who are already in them. But not the church, and not your small group! You exist for the people who God has put in each of your circles of influence so that you can make an impact on their lives. Be like Jesus, who came “to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders” (Matthew 9:13).

Talk with your group now for how you can make your group less scary and more welcoming, because, as John Wooden said, “When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.”




The Day of Overflowing Compassion

Today is a Day of Overflowing Compassion. To fully understand what happened on this day, it helps to see Jesus’ attitudes, actions, and words before he was put on trial and went to the cross. Once, as he was walking through some towns with his followers, the Bible says that when he saw the crowds, Jesus had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:35-38).

As I reflect on what Jesus did on what we call Good Friday, I feel his compassion for me and for all those who are harassed and helpless in this life. At one time, I too was harassed by this life and felt helpless to do anything about it. I was trying to make it on my own, by my own efforts, under my own puny power. In 1988, with the help of my niece, Julie, and several other people like Thomas, I found the Good Shepherd, or rather, he found me. He drew me to himself.

At first, I was a skeptical seeker. For years I had investigated matters of faith in general and the accounts of Jesus and the Cross particularly. After lots of reading, discussing, and thinking, I could no longer deny, refute, or argue the facts of what happened that Day or especially how it transformed the lives of so many harassed and helpless people, including Jesus’ closest followers, afterward. Something unique and powerful happened that Day on Calvary and on the following Sunday morning.

In John 10, Jesus compared himself to a shepherd, a role rich in Biblical meaning. “I am the good shepherd,” he said, but what he said next is powerful: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11). That, my friend, is compassion, sacrificial love, God’s plan for connecting us back into a restored relationship with him. It wasn’t fair: the innocent paying the ultimate price for the guilty. Not fair, but incredibly compassionate.

In his compassionate love for people (see John 3:16), the Shepherd laid down his life for harassed and helpless people like you and me. It was the only way to make things right. He is the only way to a restored relationship with God.

Helpless is what I once was, but not today; today I have a Helper, a Savior, a Compassionate Shepherd who guides me through the circumstances of this life.

This is what it means to follow Jesus. On this Good Friday, I look back at what he has already done for me when he laid down his life for me and on Easter Sunday took it back up again (see John 10:17-18). But I also look forward to a Day that is coming, described toward the end of the Bible: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” (Revelation 7:17). What compassion!


Rock ‘n Roll Advice to Get Your Small Group Back Where You Belong

Maybe you’ve never considered this, but Rock n’ Roll has provided small group leaders with quite a bit of wisdom. Over the last week, I’ve been posting #rocknrollwisdom as my Small Group Leadership TIPS of the week on Twitter, my Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and LinkedIn. The genesis of all real wisdom comes from the Creator, who uses all kinds of means to get our attention.

How many R&R titles can you find?

Many groups have forgotten The Heart of the Matter. They Come Together for fellowship and to Read the Book, and that’s Fine as Fine Can Be, yet God is simply a Spirit in the Sky, and Jesus is Just Alright. They may say I’m a Believer, but the Lost? Dream On! Love your neighbor? “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” they ask. When a visitor happens to show up, their attitudes are, “Hey You, Don’t Stand So Close to Me!” Ain’t It a Shame? Yes, It’s a Plain Shame!

God Only Knows what he can do in and through your group, so Don’t Stop Believin’ in him. Say a Little Prayer and tell God, “I’ll lead this group Anyway You Want It.” In fact, instead of leading under your own Authority and Power, lead as if you’re Livin’ on a Prayer.

Small Group Leaders, it’s time to Shake It Up! Yes, continue to Faithfully Shower the People You Love with Love. But Let Your Love Flow to people outside your little group as well. Invite new people to your group. Tell them, “You can Come as You Are, yes Just the Way You Are,” and then Let ‘Em In and welcome them with Open Arms.

Now here’s a little Caution when you tell your group there’s Gonna Be Some Changes Made … Changes in Latitudes (because you’ll need to Get Off your comfy couches to actually do what the Bible says) and mostly Changes in Attitudes. Be the Leader of the Band, the Leader of the Pack, and tell your group members to Walk This Way. It may not be Easy, but Keep on Rollin’ with the Changes and Don’t Look Back. It may Feel Like the First Time you’ve actually lived as a group on God’s mission!

Make Christ’s mission to Go Now and reach lost and Lonely People Urgent for your group. It’s really A Matter of Trust for the people in your group, so Don’t Fear the Reaper. Remind your group that with God, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now. No Way. Ain’t No Stopping Us Now! So until you’re climbing that Stairway to Heaven and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, Keep the Fire. Yes. Keep the Fire Burnin’ over the Long Run!

As Always, Always and Forever, Love is the Answer. When Times Gettin’ Tougher than Tough, remember, you gotta have Faith. It may be true that You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but if you try sometimes well you might find you get what you need.

Keep on Rockin’!

I’m sure I’ve missed a few pieces of #RocknRollWisdom. Add yours in the comments!

More Posts on Getting on God’s Mission as a Group

Three Facts American Small Groups Can Learn From The Best Practices of Other Countries – Part 3: Guest Post by Ralph W. Neighbour

Ralph NeighbourToday is part three of a three-part series by guest blogger, Dr. +Ralph Neighbour. Please see Part 1 here. See Part 2 here. 




When we began to develop the Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore, we threw away the traditional church calendar with all its programs. Our motto was, “This one thing we do!” With no apologies, we focused on equipping every home cell to become harvest-focused.
We began by calendaring three harvest events a year: Christmas, Easter, and August.
At Christmas, the harvest event was held for several nights in the 12,000 seat Indoor Stadium. On Good Friday, we had each home group share a lunch with a special focus on the death and resurrection of Christ. In August, we had a theatrical performance and created tickets for reserved seats. We learned over 5 years that the size of the harvest was about the same for each event.
Growth Cycles
Overseas cell churches in many nations have used versions of the calendar shown in the above diagram. It begins with the conversions in a Harvest Event, whom are gathered for a retreat lasting 1½ days for orientation. They are then placed in a home group I like to refer to as a “Christ Body” and are assigned to a “Young Man” (1 John 2:12-14) for mentoring in a Triad. Each Triad in the group is led by a spiritual “Father” and is helped to grasp basic core values. The next step is to help the converts overcome the strongholds through a second weekend retreat where the focus is on deliverance. Then a special period begins for the group: a third retreat launches preparation to cultivate in the households of new believers.  This can last for many weeks (at least seven). During this time the group meets to pray and plan for focusing on home visits, following Jesus’ mandate in Luke 10. After relationships have deepened between the group and the unreached, the group meetings follow even more intensely the pattern of 1 Cor. 14:24, ff.
Investigational Bible studies take place in personal discussions with seekers. This culminates in the next Harvest Event.
I have written an equipping track that is used for each part of this sequence. It is available in English at www.touchusa.org, but is also in Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Spanish, Chinese, etc. in other parts of the world.
In Singapore, we found that it took three cycles for the entire congregation to become acclimated to the schedule of the calendar. After 25 cycles (5 years), we had grown from 360 members to more than 7,000 in 700 home cells.
Dion Robert in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, has just celebrated his 40th year since planting his cell church. He now has 229,000 in the hundreds of churches that have been planted in more than two dozen nations. All use their own version of this cycle of Consolidation, Foundation, Penetration, and Cultivation.
Obviously the missing pieces in the American small group movement involve either weak or no focus on these areas. What can be done?


Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week: February 29 – March 4, 2016

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 2/29: Lead your group for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Everything else will flow from that.

Tuesday, 3/1: The Greatest Commandment is a command 4 your grp. How are you loving your neighbors as Jesus defined them?

Wednesday, 3/2: The Great Commission is your group’s commission. So pray, discuss, & plan. Then …GO!

Thursday, 3/3: Spend time with Jesus and allow him to saturate your mind and heart with his love and wisdom.

Friday, 3/4: Make every day #March4th Day. GO and make disciples… #greatcommission

All Small Group Leadership TIPS

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