September 29, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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Book Review – Rediscovering Discipleship by Robby Gallaty: Part 1

What is there about discipleship that needs to be rediscovered? Has disciple-making become a lost skill among Christians? Seeing that those professing no religion (the “nones”) are increasing in our culture, you might think matters of discipleship are waning. Baptisms are in decline and many faithful teenage believers are leaving the faith and the church as they enter adulthood. So, if Christians are not growing as disciples of Jesus, what can we do?

Robby Gallaty helps us rediscover discipleship and disciple-making. This blog will introduce his book to you, looking at the first half of the book. The next blog will look at the last half of the book.

Gallaty, Robby. Rediscovering Discipleship. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

Part 1 in Rediscovering Discipleship is called “Know the Man Before You Go on the Mission.” In this first section Gallaty reviews what discipleship is. Of course the model disciple-maker is Jesus but do you understand Jesus’ first century culture? Knowing that culture and tradition is an imperative in becoming a disciple-maker in the twenty-first century. First, understand how rabbis of the first century taught. Jesus was such a rabbi although he taught with authority. Jesus spent three years turning twelve men into disciples who could make disciples. One of them did not make it. How quickly we want to learn disciple-making in five easy steps without understanding that we must be disciples before we can make a single disciple. If we are not discipled, how can we understand how to make a disciple.

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Once we understand how Jesus made disciples, we need to see how Hebrews in the first century thought. Those Jews were steeped in the Word of God. Other influences did dilute their Hebrew thinking. One dilution was Hellenization, the cultural changes brought about by the Greeks as they spread their culture all over the world. This is a lesson to us as we try to think Christianly in a non-Christian culture.

The ancient Hebrews used word pictures. This is prominent in Jesus’ teaching as he uses Old Testament references and parables to explain the truth He was communicating. Some might say Jesus was not direct in his teaching, yet in a story-oriented culture, Jesus was direct. Also see that Jesus often taught by answering questions with questions. We modern Americans hate such teaching because we just want the answers and we want them now. We want the facts but Jesus taught with principles. His teaching intrigued the mind and engaged thinking. All of this reminds us that disciple-makers are not born; they are made. If you want to make disciples, then learn disciple-making. You were not likely born a disciple-maker but you can become one. Gallaty makes this point from the Bible as well as through church history. He traces disciple-making through historical lives like Augustine, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Thomas Crammer, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, and John Wesley. The church today owes a debt to such leaders. John Wesley’s Holy Club set a model for us to see how accountability small groups changed lives. We build on his principles today.

Gallaty closes Part 1 with a discussion of the term “disciple” in the New Testament. He notes that Paul, a Jew, addresses Greeks by adding the concept of family to discipleship. Indeed, disciples are a part of a family, God’s family. Life in this new family God is creating is the nexus for learning the lifestyle of a disciple. Without God’s family, disciples are not formed and discipleship is not practiced.

 Scripture: Analyze Matthew 28:19-20. What is the central command? In what ways should we carry out this command?

Dig Deeper: Read Rediscovering Discipleship by Robby Gallaty.   

It’s Your Turn Now: Why do you think disciple-makers are not born but are made?  Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 26, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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Book Review – Simple Small Groups

Leading and teaching small groups or Sunday School classes is an ever-learning challenge for leaders. People change. The community changes. The church changes. The culture is constantly changing. That equates into challenges that require our Bible teaching ministries to continually adapt our methodology, leadership, outreach, and ministry skills. I keep up as best as I can. I just finished reading a new book:

Search, Bill. Simple Small Groups: a user-friendly guide for small group leaders. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008.

Bill Search is a team leader for Community and Weekend Groups at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Once skeptical about small groups, his wife talked him into joining a small group and he came to see the power of community in bringing transformation into people’s lives.

This short, clear read is stacked around three major purposes of small groups: connecting, changing, and cultivating.

  • Connecting is about developing relationships. Search explains the processes that help adults connect with others. He advises how to overcome typical relationship obstacles.
  • Changing is about growing into the image of Christ. Groups can help people grow in Christ-likeness. We are not to conform to the world but are to be transformed into the image of Christ.
  • Cultivating is about becoming missional. What small group actions can help small groups become missional groups. Missional groups change communities. Missional groups are revolutionary. Missional groups are out to change the world.

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I like models for ministry and Bill Search presents readers a strong model for leading small groups. As I read, I remembered a friend’s three-legged stool. Three legs make the stool very stable. While I could name these purposes other names, Search shows us that every group has impact and influence when they seek out connection, change, and cultivation. Finally, Search points out how these three purposes harmonize. You see, Search knows that effective small groups cannot be produced by cookie-cutter approaches. Each group is slightly unique in unique situations with unique persons bearing unique skills, abilities, and spiritual gifts. Therefore, a group cannot be one-third connection and one-third change and one third cultivating. Each group must find the harmony of these three purposes. This harmonizing approach provides a creative ministry environment that can adapt to constantly changing circumstances.

I may be weird but I read everything in a book, introductions, forwards, and even the appendices. I figure that if the author valued it enough to write it for me, maybe I had better read it. Bill Search includes three significant appendices that provide a powerful biblical basis for each of the three group purposes he advocates. Bible foundations go a long way with me and help me have the biblical insight the author also used.

I think my best take-a-ways from Simple Small Groups include a simple, clear approach; strong biblical foundations for this approach, and three easy-to-grasp purposes, like the three legs on a stool, that provide a stable model. Please consider this excellent text to freshen up your ideas about small groups.

Scripture: Read these three references. How does each verse relate to the concept used here in small groups?

  • Connecting: Acts 2:42-47
  • Changing: Ephesians 4:11-16
  • Cultivating: Matthew 9:35-38

Dig Deeper: Read Simple Small Groups by Bill Search.

Now It’s Your Turn: Think about your experiences with small groups. Where have you seen the connecting, changing, and cultivating purposes in small groups?  Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 19, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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The Harvest is Abundant

The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) can have several themes:

  • How Jesus demonstrated teaching God’s Word.
  • How the Word germinates in each of us.
  • The kinds of persons who hear the Word.
  • The evil forces that rob us of God’s Word.

But verses 11-12 put the parable into a different perspective. These verses bring the message of this parable home to me. What kind of “soil” is my heart when God’s Word is planted there?

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The disciples asked why Jesus taught in parables. His answer seems cold: that the disciples could understand the secrets of the kingdom of God and so that others, like the Pharisees, could NOT understand the secrets of the Kingdom. Jesus was selective in calling disciples and He was selective as He taught. The separation of the goats and the sheep (Matthew 25:33) had already begun.

Parables, we say, are “earthly stories with heavenly meaning.” Jesus tossed down a story about familiar things so His disciples would also grasp the truth He was communicating. Just prior to this passage in Matthew, Jesus encountered accusations of blasphemy and breaking the Sabbath, Pharisees and scribes chided Him for signs, and his own family, his mother and brothers, rejected Him. Are not all these examples of the same soils in this parable: hard soil, rocky soil, weedy soil, and good soil?

mining-782645_1920But a parable also caused one who wanted to understand its meaning a moment to pause, the encouragement to reflect, the nudge of curiosity to find more. A parable provided a seeker of God to spot the glint of truth as a gold miner seeks the glistening of gold in the matrix rock deep in the ground. The sparkle of the potential of striking gold urged the miner on. A parable causes tiny bits of truth to glitter in God’s light. A parable must be examined closely as a miner might roll a bit of gold ore around in his hand. A parable is a tease to the mind. A parable teases out thought. A parable activates the mind of one willing to inquire.

But the disciples’ question about teaching through parables unlocked a precious truth. Jesus said, “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away (v. 12).

What one “has” in this parable is not money or material riches as we might surmise in our 21st Century mindset. But in the context, what one “has” are those secrets of the kingdom. What one has is the truths of God. And, like a miner searching for more gold, a disciple searches out more truth. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek for Him (Prov. 8:17) so while a miner’s search for gold may never pan out, the disciple’s search for truth is always richly rewarded. Later in Matthew 13, Jesus continues this explanation in other brief parables: when a man who found a treasure hidden in a field, sold all he had to buy the property (v. 44) and a pearl merchant who, when he found the greatest pearl of his career, sold everything to buy it (v. 45). So, this abundance in verse 13 is an abundance of truth. It is the wealth of knowing God. It is riches beyond imagination.

cornfield-1124419_1920In the parable Jesus said that the seeds that fell on good soil yielded an unbelievable bounty, an abundance of grain, one hundred times and sixty times and thirty times what was planted. In the first century if a farmer sowed a bushel of grain and harvested ten bushels at the end of farming season, he had a bumper crop. Imagine the astonishment of the crowd contemplating a crop yielding thirty, sixty, and even one hundred times what was planted. Then, in his explanation of the parable Jesus repeats this claim. For those who hear the word and understand it, they will bear fruit, astronomical results of thirty and sixty and one hundred times what was planted in their hearts.

Let that tease your thoughts. Someone may say, “I only have six in my Sunday School class. What good am I doing?” Faithfully sowing the Word, into the lives of those who will receive it and understand it will yield a harvest of amazing results. Notice again that the kingdom grows, not through addition but through multiplication. Multiplication is the only math used in kingdom work.

This semester I have a Pastoral Ministry class with four students. All four are wonderful young men who are already doing significant work for the kingdom. I have invited a number of pastors and church leaders to speak in my class. However, I enlisted all the speakers with the caveat: “I only have four students so this may not be worth your time.”

But one invited speaker, a young WBC alumnus who is also doing amazing kingdom work, shot back an email to me and took me to the mat. “How dare you,” he chided me, “how dare you think that only having four students makes the class less significant. You have no idea how many churches will be served, how many will hear the gospel, how many will be saved, how many marriages and families will be strengthened because of these four young men.” I deserved to be taken to the mat. And I got back up off the proverbial mat, determined more than ever to sow the seeds of God’s truth into these four young men.

Sunday School teacher, be faithful. Sow the seed. An abundant harvest is coming.

Small group leader, keep studying and leading. An abundant harvest is coming.

Pastor, keep preaching with all the scriptural insight and love you can muster. An abundant harvest is coming.

An ABUNDANT harvest is coming!

Scripture: Read John 4:35. Look around you. Can you see that the fields are ready to harvest?

Dig Deeper: I remember an old, old hymn from my childhood, “Bringing in the Sheaves” by Knowles Shaw (1874). Read the lyrics and use this hymn of encouragement to meditate on Matthew 13:1-23

Now It’s Your Turn: What keeps you sowing the seeds of God’s Word? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 15, 2016
by Walter Norvell
0 comments

How Perfection Discourages Small Group Leaders

How in the world do you lead a small group perfectly? You have seen great Bible teachers. Maybe your pastor is one of them. How can any non-seminary trained small group leader compete with that? What if I make a mistake? What if I don’t get the interpretation exactly right? What if I can’t talk in ways so that the group gets it? What if? What if? What if?

fire-351185_1920Moses worried about the “what ifs” as well. Look at Exodus 3:11. He asked, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Then in Exodus 3:13 he asked, “Who will I say sent me?” Here he actually was asking for a basis of authority. In Exodus 4:1 Moses asked what he would do if the people did not believe his story and call. In Exodus 4:10 he reminded God that he was a stutterer and did not think he could speak for God adequately. Moses was worried about doing this task perfectly, on his own power. Moses could not trust that a perfect God was going to be able to use an imperfect man. But, Moses’ success was not based on his ability to perfectly perform but on God’s ability to supernaturally accomplish His divine plan. Human inability and imperfection was not even on God’s radar. He would deliver Israel from Egyptian slavery and He would use imperfect Moses to do it.

 

In a recent series of blog posts, David Murray responded to Allan Mallinger’s book, Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control. Murray did eight brief blogs about the topic. The eighth blog is 8 Ways to Overcome Perfectionism. If you go to that blog post you can see links to all the others. They are worth the read and I am sure Mallinger’s book is too.

The eighth post, 8 Ways to Overcome Perfectionism, made me think a lot about leading small groups. One of the problems that face churches is the lack of leaders in small groups and Sunday Schools. Many hide in fear because they know good and well they cannot lead a Bible study group perfectly. And they are right. I am just a couple of hours out from leading our college Bible study group this afternoon. If you saw my written plan and then watched me, you would realize how much I varied from my “perfect” plan. But, I also know that in my imperfection, those students were with me. They heard my passion as I read a missions letter from a recent grad who had spent the summer in missions in a difficult project. They heard and felt the need to follow Jesus in faithful obedience. They saw their friend’s courage and faithful obedience. And they could imagine that they too can faithfully obey

Don’t hide behind perfectionism when your church asks you to lead a small group or a Sunday School class. Those group members don’t need a perfect leader. In fact, if you could lead it perfectly, you would discourage others from following in your steps to become leaders. God doesn’t need your perfection. He needs your availability. You will make mistakes in spite of your best intentions and hard study. You will not communicate biblical truth without error. Only God can do that. But you have the Word and you have the Holy Spirit. Andy if your heart is willing and sufficiently prepared, He will accomplish more through you than you can imagine. Don’t worry about perfection. Lead with all the excellence you can muster. Be adequate. Get the job done, faithfully. God will use you.

Scripture: Read Exodus chapters 3, 4, and 5. What do you think changed in Moses between the burning bush and his first audience with the Pharaoh of Egypt?

Dig Deeper: Read David Murray’s posts about perfectionism. All the links are above in the post.

Now It’s Your Turn: What would you say to someone you are enlisting to lead a small group but who tells you, I am not good enough to lead that group? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 12, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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Four Leadership Practices for Small Group Leaders

I have noticed that while I know what matters, I can easily lose my focus on what matters with all the tasks that seem to need to be done at any given moment. Sometimes we must take steps to focus on the most important and let the lesser important things go. As a small group leader, what practices will do the most to develop the small group? What practices can I focus on that will move my group to a new level of growth, ministry, mission, and leadership?

Eric Geiger is the vice president of the Resources Division of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author or co-author of Identify, Creature of the Word, Simple Church, Transformational Discipleship, Transformational Groups, and his newest book, Designed to Lead. In his blog he recently discussed “Four Essential Leadership Practices for Ministry.” As I read his post I realized that it also applied as four essential leadership practices for small group leaders. Here’s why:

  1. Shepherd your soul: Your character matters. Character provides the authenticity needed to be a leader. While no one expects perfection, what people want is leaders trying their best to model what they teach. A leader’s life and a leader’s words must be pointing in the same direction. A leader that is seeking to model the life he or she is advocating will never be without someone to lead.
  1. Offer clear direction: Get clear and help your group get clear about the purpose and direct of your group. Why does your group exist? Is it a Bible study group focused on developing community? Is your group focused on reaching unchurched people? Does your group have a definite discipleship or leadership goal? Do the group members know this and support this? Frequently talking about your purpose and direction and asking group members to describe the group’s purpose and direction helps everyone get clarity.

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  1. Cultivate your culture: Help your group see the common values your church and your small group share. You will likely find these values in your church’s mission statement and core beliefs. Think about what these values will look like if your group were holding tightly to them. Then teach these actions and attitudes in your group meetings. Highlight your church’s values. Commend group leaders when they demonstrate the common values. Create opportunities to strengthen the values. For instance, if your group values mercy and justice in the community, plan ministry opportunities to live out mercy and justice. Maybe such a group would start tutoring children at a substandard performing school.
  1. Develop others: Your group and your church are in need of leadership. Therefore, we must prioritize seeing the potential in our group members and help them develop it. We have to be talent scouts and trainers in everything we do and say. Ask yourself, “Will this next _______ (lesson, fellowship, service project, mission trip, etc.) help develop next year’s leaders?” Find one or two group members close to stepping into leadership and spend intentional time with them to develop their ability to lead and serve.

Scripture: Psalm 78:70-72 is one of my favorite passages about the leadership God desires in us. Here the psalmist speaks of David’s leadership as God developed it in him. What does “with upright heart” and “with his skillful hand” mean to you? How do these teach us about leadership?

Dig Deeper: Read Eric Geiger’s post, 4 Essential Leadership Practices in Ministry. While you are in his blog, poke around a bit and see what else you can learn.

Now It’s Your Turn: What are some other ways you can apply these four essential leadership practices to your small group ministry? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 8, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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Turning National Thank You Day into Ministry

National Thank You Day, Sept. 15, can become a wonderful ministry opportunity for your small group. What a great day to show appreciation to those who help us. Just bring a bunch of envelopes, paper, pens, and stamps to small group meeting.

Here are some ideas for sending thank-you notes:

  • Let group members send notes to family and friends they need to thank.
  • Send notes to your pastor, staff ministers, or age group volunteers in preschool, children’s and youth ministry.
  • Send notes to your local school’s teachers and staff.
  • Send notes to local elected officials.
  • Send affirming notes to law enforcement officers, fire fighters, or other first responders.
  • Write thank-you notes to local nurses and staff at hospitals or nursing homes.
  • Send notes to military personnel. You can find more information on how to write them at Operation Gratitude.

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A good thank-you note should be addressed well. You can likely find mailing addresses with a simple internet search for local institutions and government offices. If you don’t know a name, then use a generic title or a complimentary title. If writing a soldier, then “Dear Hero” is perfect. Begin your note with something like, “I wanted to write you and express my appreciation for . . . “ Identify how the person has contributed good things to your life.

Challenge group members to develop other ways to show appreciation. Most will find it helpful if someone from your group contacts the organization and clears the plans ahead of time. Here are other ideas:

  • Provide refreshments for the teachers’ lounges at your local schools.
  • Provide snacks or bottled refreshments for police or sheriff deputies or fire fighters.
  • Get everyone to leave notes on their mailboxes for their letter carriers to find.
  • Volunteer childcare so your pastor and church staff can have date nights with their spouses.
  • Offer to prepare refreshments for parents and teachers at the monthly PTA meeting.
  • Plan and encourage random acts of kindness.
  • Every group member commits to saying thanks to 25 (or 10) people in one day. Think of people you can thank: bank tellers, service station attendant, cashiers, bus drivers and on and on.

Take advantage of National Thank You Day to help your group to find ways to serve others through appreciation. Paul encouraged the doing of good. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:9-10 ESV).” Expressing appreciation is a good thing that helps communicate value to others and encourages human flourishing. So, celebrate September 15 with lots of thanks.

Scripture: Read 1 Peter 3:11. How does this verse help us see the potential in a ministry of appreciation?

Dig Deeper: Who else knows more about writing thank-you notes than Hallmark? (I do NOT get a commission here.) Read how to write a thank you note on the Hallmark website.

Now It’s Your Turn: If your group is planning some action for National Thank You Day, let us hear from you.  Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

September 5, 2016
by Walter Norvell
0 comments

National Thank You Day Can Build Your Group

Small groups carry out several significant functions. One function is building community between group members. Small groups provide something you can hardly ever get in a worship service: community. Worship services are not designed to build fellowship in community. But small groups can easily do it. A former pastor of mine used to be fond of saying, “If you haven’t been to Sunday School today, then you haven’t been to church. You have only been to a worship service. The church is the church in small groups.”

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September 15 is National Thank You Day. You can help build your group by saying sincere thanks to your group and to individual members. How?

  • Thank your group for their attendance and participation.
  • Thank your group for the support they give you as leader or facilitator.
  • Thank group members for carrying out responsibilities in the group.
  • Thank group members when you see them following Jesus in their church, work, marriages, and families.
  • Pray in your group, offering thanks to God for the group and what they do.
  • Write hand-written notes to group members. People really do notice and greatly appreciate a hand-written note they receive through the US Postal Service. Emails and calls are one thing, but a unique, personal, hand-written note shows the time and effort the writer put in it. A simply, sincere written thank-you note beats a text or an email every single time.
  • Thank God for leaders of small groups in your church.
  • Sometimes you can thank the people behind the scenes of your small group and their ministry opportunities.

Use National Thank You Day to create community in your small group. Be sincere. Give God thanks while you thank others. See what a difference a little appreciation can make. Our next post will look at ways your small group can turn thank yous into ministry opportunities.

Scripture: Read Ephesians 1:6. What are you most thankful for in your small group?

Dig Deeper: Get out the thank you cards, a pen, and some real, old-fashioned stamps. Write thank you notes to every person in your small group.

Now It’s Your Turn: What motivation does receiving appreciation play in your life? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 1, 2016
by Walter Norvell
0 comments

A Day to Say Thanks

No. Though fall is rapidly coming upon us, I know Thanksgiving is a couple of months away. What is coming is National Thank You Day, September 15, 2016.

As I have pondered a day set aside for saying thank you, my heart is saddened when I realize that it is not always in our natural to be thankful or express thanks to God or others. So, in many ways I am glad someone has set aside a day to remind us to express our thankfulness. I hope you will take the day to thank God first, and then to express your thanks to people all around you for what they have done for you.

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Today, let’s think about thankfulness. Let’s consider its meaning and the role of thankfulness in our live with God. The next two posts will help you think about using this day to build your small group and to lead your small group in ministry.

I did a cursory search with my ESV Study Bible on the word “thanks” or one of its derivatives. I got 156 hits. Thanksgiving is woven throughout the Bible from the words of Moses to the Revelation. Here’s a few things I learned:

  • Psalms alone has 54 references to thanks. I assume if we are going to sing to the Lord, thanks is a huge part of our praise.
  • We give thanks to God for others and God’s work in them. 1 Cor. 1:4; 2 Thess. 1:3; Rms. 1:8; Phil. 1:3; 1 Thess. 3:9
  • Expressing thanks honors God. Rms. 1:21
  • Giving thanks edifies others. 1 Cor. 14:16-17
  • God’s work in us produces thanksgiving. 2 Cor. 1:11
  • Thanksgiving helps us toward holy lives. Eph. 5:4
  • Thanksgiving is the antidote for worry. Phil. 4:6
  • Thanks for others and prayer for them goes hand-in-hand. Col. 1:3; 1 Thess. 1:2
  • You can and should give thanks for anything and everything. 1 Thess. 1:2; 1 Thess. 5:18; 1 Tim. 4:4
  • Thanksgiving is the right thing to do. 2 Thess. 1:3
  • Praying gives us opportunity to practice thankfulness. Philemon 4
  • Our greatest thanks is for God’s greatest gift, Jesus. 2 Cor. 9:15
  • Thanks to God is endless. Rev. 11:17

I want to encourage you to continue reading in your Bible to grasp more about the importance of saying thanks. Then, as we apply the Bible to our lives, act on this. Thank God for what He has done for you. Then, look around you. Who has encouraged you? Who has shared God’s love and grace with you? Who did something unexpected for you? Who has been your rock of support? Who do you see serving God every day but seldom receiving any appreciation?

September 15, National Thank You Day, is coming. Make your plans to spread your thanks around.

Scripture: Read Psalm 50:14. What is your sacrifice of thanksgiving?

Dig Deeper: Read Psalm 75:1. Make a list of God’s wondrous deeds in your life. Who can you share this list with that will encourage them and bring praise to God?

Now It’s Your Turn: Is there something or someone for which you are thankful? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

August 29, 2016
by Walter Norvell
0 comments

Help Young Adults Find the Bible Study They Are Wanting

This past week I came across a blogpost by Lance Crowell, “Three Things Every Young Adult is Looking for in Their Sunday School Class.” My attention perked up because I lead young adults in Bible study at our church. He posed three great ideas:

  1. Content – Young adults are looking to be challenged and hear the truth.
  2. Community – Young adults are often very lonely and desperately looking for relationships.
  3. Calling – Many young adults desire to be part of something larger than they are.

Meeting Of Bible Study Group

After reading this post I began to think about what I have been doing to help the young adults in my spiritual care at church to find these three things. Here are my ideas:

Content:

  1. If you use a curriculum for your young adult small group, work it to the maximum and make sure the learners know how to use it to help them learn.
  2. Focus on three concepts as you study: observe the Bible text, interpret the meaning of the Bible text, and apply the Bible text to life today.
  3. Help young adults learn to use observation, interpretation and application as they study their Bibles.
  4. Find connections between the biblical text you are studying and culture today: a movie, a news event, a TV commercial, or maybe a hit song. Use these cultural connections to create interest in the Bible text or help apply the Bible text.

Community:

  1. Create a relaxed environment for Bible study.
  2. Share food as part of the Bible study: from coffee to finger foods to a full meal at times. Fellowship around food creates community.
  3. Help learners share relevant prayer requests and pray together.
  4. Help learners share their own spiritual journeys with each other.
  5. Find other times besides the group Bible study session to get together. Party on a regular basis.

Calling: (I would add here that young adults want to serve others in significant ways.)

  1. Find ways the group can serve a greater cause together: a mission trip or a local ministry opportunity.
  2. Help the group see opportunities for individual service. Share opportunities and celebrate young adults who are serving.
  3. Share ministry and service opportunities in the church with the group at nearly every meeting.
  4. Help the group serve hurting people they may already know – a sick group member, a single-mom family, a friend who has just lost a job or a friend experiencing tough times.

I think Lance Crowell nailed it. If you want to see your small group ministry and/or your church, figure out ways to help young adults find the Bible study content they want and need, the community they crave, and the opportunity to service in significant ways. When you get those concepts working, I think young adults might beat the door down to be a part.

Scripture: Read 1 Timothy 4:12. If you lead a group of young adults to find content, community, and calling, might they become an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity?   

Dig Deeper: Please read “Three Things Every Young Adult is Looking for in Their Sunday School Class” by Lance Crowell. While you are there, the Sunday School Leader website supplies a great wealth of posts about every age group and aspect of leading Sunday School classes and small groups. Check it out.

Now It’s Your Turn: What are some things that you think young adults are looking for in Bible study? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

August 25, 2016
by Walter Norvell
0 comments

What Makes for a Great Small Group Bible Study?

If you just attended a great small group Bible study, how would you describe it? What made it great? What would you tell others about it and why?

The Good Book Company just released a short video that answers those questions. The folks at The Good Book Company provide resources to help churches and disciples grow through Bible study. Here’s their recent video:

Here is what I heard in this video. These sorts of things identify great small group Bible studies:

  1. Small group Bible study is an essential part of church.
  2. Small group Bible studies let people pastor one another.
  3. Small group Bible study actually study the Bible together.
  4. Small group Bible studies work best when using great questions for discussion.
  5. A great small group Bible study doesn’t just read the Scriptures but helps us apply the Scriptures to our lives.
  6. Small group Bible study help us know and be known.
  7. A great small group Bible study keeps you thinking about a passage long after the meeting is over.
  8. A great small group Bible study helps us come to know God.
  9. Small groups help us experience vibrant prayer.
  10. Small groups create experiences that let God transform us.

What ideas did you find in the video? The value of effective small group Bible study is amazing. What can you do to take steps toward making your small group Bible study into a great small group Bible study?

Scripture: Read Colossians 4:15. Notice this simple sentence. Nympha hosted a church in her house. That is a small group. Consider the possibility of hosting a small group in your house.

Dig Deeper: Explore the blogs and other resources at The Good Book Company.

Now It’s Your Turn: Tell us about a great small group Bible study experience you have had. Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

1 round logoDisclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”