February 20, 2017
by Walter Norvell
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How Colleges Bring the Nations to Us

You know the Great Commission: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV). But, what if the nations are coming to us? They are, through our colleges and universities.

In 2015, just two years ago, nearly one million international students studied at colleges and universities here in our country. They come from nearly every country of the globe. They come for education and opportunities. Most will go back home to use their education and skills in their homelands. Some of those homelands are not open to missionaries or Christians who are not nationals already.   If international students become Jesus followers, think of the impact they might have as they return home.

February 23 is the National Collegiate Day of Prayer. In the past few blogs, I have encouraged you and your small groups to engage in this observance. Some private or Christian campuses near you may be having prayer observances on campus this Thursday. You may be able to support those meetings and participate. You may also help your small group or your church remember our colleges and universities in prayer in Sunday and Wednesday night services. Everyone can adopt a college and pray for that campus all year. I do.

However, international students on our American campuses give us an even greater impulse to pray for our campuses. How might your church or small group pray for and minister to international students?

  • Many Christian campus ministries attempt to work with international students. Pray for these. Contact a Christian campus organization and offer to help with international students.
  • Volunteer to be a conversation partner with an international. Many need to and want to develop their English skills. One way is to simply engage in conversation, about nearly anything. The Lord may open the door for your witness.
  • Prepare and share a meal for a group of international students through an international club or a campus ministry group. Pray for an impact through this event.
  • Invite international students to your church for special recognition and a meal. Pray over this event and the students who attend.
  • Prepare welcome supplies to internationals at a campus near you. Many come without bedding, office supplies, shower and hygiene supplies, snacks or food. Most only come with one or two suitcases. That’s all they can carry on a plane. What an impact your group might make by giving such supplies as gifts. A Christian campus ministry can give ideas about what international students at their campus usually need when they arrive. Pray over every gift pack you put together.
  • “Adopt” some international students. Invite them into your home. Learn about their customs and help them learn American customs. Pray for them.
  • Give Bibles to internationals who would willingly receive them. Pray over every Bible.
  • When you build relationships with students, celebrate their graduations and give them huge send-offs when they leave for home. Pray for them.

When God opens doors for internationals to come to us, let’s see His hand at work and partner with Him in this most unique opportunity to share the gospel.

Scripture: Read Leviticus 19:34: You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. How can you apply this passage to international students on a campus near you?

Dig Deeper: You can learn more about reaching college students at these links:

TIPS FOR STARTING AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT MINISTRY

International Students Church Partners

Now It’s Your Turn: At this writing, half the colleges and universities in the US have been adopted by prayer warriors for the Collegiate Day of Prayer, but 1,560 campuses are still unadopted for prayer. Will you go to www.collegiatedayofprayer.org and adopt a campus?

Disclosure 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.”

February 16, 2017
by Walter Norvell
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How to Pray for a Campus

February 23 is the National Collegiate Day of Prayer. I encourage everyone to go to the CDOP website and commit to pray for a college or university. You can “adopt” a campus and register your decision on the site.

I want to encourage you to pray for colleges and universities. I think making this a prayer effort for a small group is a great idea to unite in prayer and make a difference. If you want to help your group participate in the CDOP, here are some ideas:

  • Announce the CDOP date: February 23.
  • Ask the group to brainstorm why praying for a college or university might be worthwhile.
  • Invite the group to name campuses they think are significant to them.
  • Dedicate some time in the meeting or plan a prayer meeting for supporting the CDOP.
  • Invite everyone to adopt a college or university.
  • Invite a Christian college student you know to talk to the group about prayer needs they know.
  • Pray. Pray.

You can find other helpful resources at this site.

Here are some things you might pray about for the CDOP or for a continuing prayer effort for a campus:

  • Pray for a spiritual awakening on campus.
  • Pray that Christian students and faculty find loving and effective ways to witness.
  • Pray for campus ministers and Christian leaders with campus responsibilities.
  • Pray that lost students will meet caring Christian students who do not fit their preconceived ideas about who Christians might be.
  • Pray for safety and security issues on campus.
  • Pray for churches attempting ministry with college students.
  • Pray for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Baptist Campus Ministries, and other Christian groups on campus. If these groups have campus meetings, pray for the effectiveness of the meetings.
  • Pray against evil schemes such as illegal drugs, drunkenness, immorality, depression, suicide, and violence.
  • Pray that students will grow aware and leery of evil schemes and see the shallowness of what the world offers them.
  • Pray that lost and unchurched students will come to Christ.
  • Pray for Gideons International as they distribute Bibles on campuses.
  • Pray for the health of the students you know.
  • Pray for a closer spiritual walk with Jesus for students you know.
  • Pray for Christian faculty, coaches, administrators, and staff personnel as they have opportunities to witness to students.
  • Pray for campus security, campus counselors, and dorm personnel as they are often the first responders in crisis and emergency situations.
  • Pray that your church will take an even greater interest in reaching and ministering to college students.
  • Celebrate every report you get of God’s work on a campus or in a college student.

College and university campuses may be the largest mission field on our shores. We must not fail our intercessory duties in lifting up college students to the Lord and praying that many of these young adults will be saved.

Scripture: Read Jesus’ words: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17 ESV)

Dig Deeper:  Learn other ways to pray for colleges and universities here.  

Now It’s Your Turn: What are some other ways to pray for colleges and universities? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

Disclosure 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.”

 

February 13, 2017
by Walter Norvell
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Praying for Our Campuses

If you knew there were over 17 million people engaged in life changing activities (good and bad) at over 4,100 locations, would you think it a worthy subject of prayer? That’s a glimpse of the size and scope of higher education in our country. The population of college students in America is almost twice the population of New York City.  It’s almost eight times the population of Houston, TX. It is a population larger than another one of the 46 states other than California, Texas, New York, or Florida. The college student population in our country is a whole country by itself!

Besides earning degrees, learning, training for careers and broadening their horizons, college students are also making many life-defining decisions: singleness, marriage, family, health, and careers. They are making decisions, actively or by default, that will shape the destinies of their lives. Then there is our cultural setting: the unrest of our politics, changing culture norms, and the rise of the “nones,” many of which are these same young adults who are defining themselves as unaffiliated with any religion, denomination, or church. Religiously, they are none and done.

February 23 is the 2017 Collegiate Day of Prayer. The focus is to draw attention to the needs of this generation of college students. Neglecting this generation may undo efforts of believers in our nation. Praying for our students in colleges and universities is of urgent importance.

Praying for over 4,100 colleges and universities is a task no one person can do. But, as the vision of the CDOP states, together we can intercede for every campus in our country. I have adopted three campuses of importance to me. As of this writing, 1,344 campuses have been adopted by prayer warriors. Another 1,780 campuses have yet to have anyone publicly commit to pray for them. You can go to http://www.collegiatedayofprayer.org and adopt a campus. Adopt a campus near your home. Adopt the campus of your favorite team. Adopt a campus where you have friends or relatives attending. After you have looked over the website, maybe you will pick a campus yet to be adopted. I have been praying for three campuses for over a year. I adopted one of my campuses because a student minister told me he had only found one Christian student on that campus over several years.  If you have any doubt about what a continuous and sustained prayer effort can mean for a campus, please read The Power of Collegiate Prayer, posted on the CDOP website.

I am convinced that one of the greatest needs and greatest opportunities before us is the spiritual condition of our campuses. In our next post, I will write about how you and your small group can participate in this important work of God.

Scripture: Consider Jesus’ words: Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’?Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. (John 4:35 ESV).

Dig Deeper: Read more and make your commitment to praying for America’s colleges and universities at www.collegiatedayofprayer.org.

Now It’s Your Turn: Who can you invite to be a part of this important prayer emphasis? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

Disclosure 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.”

February 9, 2017
by Walter Norvell
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Small Groups and Practicing Disciplines

No doubt you would agree that small groups are significant or you would not be reading this blog. Recently, in reading Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, I learned a connection that had never before been obvious to me: some spiritual disciplines serve as “containers” for other spiritual disciplines.

This excellent book is actually a reference book for the practice of spiritual disciplines. When you read it (and I strongly recommend it), you will likely think, “I never knew there were so many disciplines.” One of the disciplines Calhoun discusses is the discipline of small groups. A small group is a group what seeks to help every member grow spiritual.  A small group is a container. Think of the various spiritual disciplines that a small group encourages:

  • Bible reading
  • Bible study
  • Accountability
  • Prayer
  • Prayer partners
  • Intercessory prayer
  • Giving
  • Ministry to others
  • Worship
  • Spiritual friendships

I am sure this list is not exhaustive.

So, a small group fosters numerous practices that helps us grow in the Lord, experience transformation, encourage relationships and ministry and more. All of these contribute to worshipping God individually and corporately. This concept has raised my value of small groups. I hope you will see small groups as even more valuable and more necessary than you may have seen it before.

Scripture: Read Acts 17:10-15. These Jews were open to Paul’s message of the gospel and evidently some became believers. What spiritual disciplines do you think may have been practiced in this new group of believers?

Dig Deeper: Read Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun.

Now It’s Your Turn: What spiritual disciplines does your small group encourage? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

Disclosure 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.”

 

February 6, 2017
by Walter Norvell
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How Long Should a Small Group Last?

What is the best length of time for a small group to stay together? That’s a hard question to answer. You need to consider several other ideas:

  • What is the purpose of our group?
  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • What is our church’s mission?

Chris Surratt, in Small Groups for the Rest of Us, suggests that healthy groups have a life cycle of about eighteen to twenty-four months. After two years a group may start to get tired and repeat themselves. I think I see this in many traditional adult Sunday School groups who have been together for many years. Also, an “old” of two years or more may become closed, unintentionally, to new people. New people will be behind in catching on to group jokes, history, and relationships.

Here are some ideas about lengths of groups I think we also need to consider:

  • Sunday School Groups:
  1. Every group should understand that a mark of success is helping start a new group. An easy way to do this is for every group to have a leader and an apprentice leader. Once the regular attendance reaches a pre-determined number, some go with the leader to start another group and some go with the apprentice leader (whom they already know) to start another group.
  2. Set a date (perhaps about two years out) to re-organize the group. Invite some to become involved in other groups and some to help re-populate the original group.
  3. Seek to keep the group focused on inviting and assimilating new members.
  4. A class does not want to “change?” Well, that is not a hill I want to die on. The group will change eventually, no matter what. If that group is not intentional about including new people and new organization, they will become ineffective for reaching people or growing people in the faith.
  • Home-based Groups:
  1. Home-based groups are often limited by the seating capacity of a typical living room. As a group decide the attendance maximum so you know when it is time to create a new group.
  2. Every group leader should enlist and train an apprentice leader. This apprentice becomes the next group leader.
  3. Many churches have plans for groups to close out at the end of a semester and start anew at the beginning of the new semester. One semester is not likely enough for community to develop but four semesters will likely be the lifecycle limit of a group. Your church’s small group ministry needs to address this issue. I think a group might stay together through four semesters of study but plan to create or reorganize into new groups after those four semesters (about two years). Hopefully they will spin off a new group even sooner.
  4. Always talk about the challenge to create new groups so more people can be reached for Bible study, evangelism, and assimilation.

Think carefully about the lifecycle of every group in your church and determine what approaches to ending and starting groups will help your church best achieve the Great Commission in your community.

Scripture: In the Book of Acts we meet Aquila and Priscilla, a husband and wife missionary/ministry team who served with Paul. They are only cited six times in the New Testament but two times the church in their home is mentioned. Read Romans 16:2-5 and 1 Corinthians 16:19. Reflect on how flexible and intentional these small groups who were churches must have been in the first century. What does that encourage in our small groups today?

Dig Deeper: Read Small Groups for the Rest of Us by Chris Surratt.

Now It’s Your Turn: How do you keep your groups at church fresh and growing? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

Disclosure 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.”

February 2, 2017
by Walter Norvell
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How Long Should a Bible Study Last?

In recent posts, I have been responding to some of the issues Chris Surratt raises in his excellent book, Small Groups for the Rest of Us. Let’s look at how long a group Bible study session should last.

Surratt tells us, for several excellent reasons, that a small group Bible study would be best served with meetings from ninety minutes to two hours in length. Before you think in a panic, “What would I say for two hours?” let’s think about what small group meetings need to achieve.

  1. Bible study. Obviously, this is a biggy. But, Bible study may not be the most important element of a small group Bible study.
  2. Information about ministry. These are those announcements we make to help people get involved in the life of the church and its work.
  3. Community building. Small groups need fellowship. In many ways, the group’s community becomes the environment for meaningful study of God’s Word. Small groups need time for conversation.
  4. Prayer and worship. Small groups deepen their community and their ministry when they share prayer requests and pray together. Groups can and should worship together.

Small group study time is not the time to think about filling the air with non-stop teaching. These other elements combine to make an effective small group experience. Building a small group is facilitated with once a month fellowship opportunities, but the workhorse of building community will remain the actual study session. When you see this, then you can easily understand that a small group needs to spend about an hour and a half to two hours in their meeting, usually weekly.

Surratt makes a great point about small groups in homes. Start on time. End on time. Young families have kids to get in bed. Many career persons must wake up early. Promise, and stick by it, to end the discussion portion of the session on time. So, if you share snacks or a meal at meetings, you might start with that. Then have Bible study discussion for a set length of time, say 45 minutes. If people want to hang around a bit longer, they are welcome to do so. But, keep your word about the length of the actual Bible study portion of the meeting.

You can also see that the leader/facilitator/teacher of a small group need not talk the whole time. In fact, don’t talk the whole time. Let other group members lead the various elements of the session. This shares leadership and develops leaders. Leader, when you do talk, remember that simply speaking to the group does not guarantee learning. Learning is more likely to occur when learners discuss and reflect on God’s Word. So, leader, when you teach, try to speak no more that 50% of the time and help others discuss for 50% of the time.

If you are teaching in a traditional Sunday School arrangement, then you likely only have one hour for class. And, with late arrivers, early departers, announcements, conversation, and prayer time, you likely only have about twenty minutes of actual teaching time. Having been in Sunday School for my whole life, this pains me deeply. We talk about the importance of studying God’s inspired Word together and yet we do precious little. For most attenders, that twenty minutes is all the Bible study they will get each week. That is too little!

If you teach in a traditional Sunday School, consider these suggestions:

  • Start on time even if you are talking to only one person. If Sunday School starts as 9:30, then start at 9:30. If you help lead quality Bible study, your late arrivers will discover that they are missing it by being late. They will adjust over time.
  • Make sure you are in your meeting space and ready to teach before the first attender arrives. Start those community building conversations when the first person walks in the door. Then start teaching on time.
  • Make good use of class parties and fellowships at other times. Your class needs community.
  • Start talking to other leaders and your pastor about the importance of weekly Bible study. Plant seeds about lengthening Bible study. Could your church lengthen Bible study from 60 minutes to 75 minutes. The best Sunday School I have ever been a part of was a 90 minute Sunday School. We had all the time we needed to fellowship, pray, converse, AND study the Bible together.

Respect both God’s Word and your learners with clear limits on the Bible study time. You will make it a great group when you do.

Scripture: Read Hebrews 10:23-25. How does the meeting of your small group or Sunday School class illustrate this passage? How well does your group illustrate this passage?

Dig Deeper: Read Chris Surratt’s book, Small Groups for the Rest of Us.

Now It’s Your Turn: In a typical session, how long does your small group meet at a time? Why? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

Disclosure 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.”

January 30, 2017
by Walter Norvell
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This and That

Today I want to speak to a few ideas that have been rolling around in my head.

 

Thanks for Two Great Years

This week marks two full years of blogs aimed at helping small group leaders and Sunday School leaders lead their groups in ways that may help bring about spiritual transformation. Your reception to this blog has exceeded my expectations. I had hoped for a couple of hundred visitors but the number of visitors surpasses every hope I had in doing this. The blog has also allowed me to share my posts with B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and their many students and supporters. I am humbled that God has answered my prayers about this ministry. Many of you who have spoken to me at meetings told me how helpful the blogs have been. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please continue to read. Please continue to share this blog with your friends and leaders in your church. If you have ideas about topics, issues, or questions you have, I would love to chew on those and try to address them in the blog. Your use of the blog encourages me to stick with it and work hard to provide content that will strengthen your ministry.

 

Last Chance for Living Forward Audiobook

I recently wrote about the positive benefits the book Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. You can read that post here. During the month of January, Christianaudio.com is offering the audio version of this book for free. Find the offer here. You will need to set up a free account and then download this free book. BUT, after tomorrow (January 31, 2017), this offer goes away. I just talked to a reader who followed my suggestion to get this audiobook. He is now planning his own personal retreat to develop his life plan. The offer of the free audiobook is a win-win. Jump online and get it. Developing your life plan will help you in every area of life. Give it a try.

 

National Collegiate Day of Prayer

The 2017 National Collegiate Day of Prayer is Thursday, February 23. This prayer emphasis is near and dear to my heart.

I am closing on twenty years in higher education. I have taught at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. Though I have only taught in Christian institutions, I see that one of the greatest mission fields in our world, not to mention our country, is the college campus. As goes our colleges and universities, so goes our leaders and our culture. Please go to the website and adopt a college or university as your prayer opportunity. Pick a campus near you, a campus where you have a friend or family member enrolled, your alma mater, or just the campus of your favorite team. Pray that the gospel would be freely shared on that campus among students, staff, faculty, and administration. I pray every day for three colleges in which I am interested. If you can’t make up your mind about choosing a campus, then please pray for our work here at Williams Baptist College. Though small, we are having world impact. Pray that God will continue to work on our campus.

Scripture: Amid the visions God gave to Zechariah, we find Zechariah 4:6. Here is God’s assertion that Zechariah did not need to fear because God would accomplish His plan. Consider God’s strength and power as you pray for college campuses.

Dig Deeper: Please take one or all of these actions:

  1. Share blogs from the 1-Minute Sunday School Trainer with leaders in your church.
  2. Download and listen to Living Forward.
  3. Challenge your small group or Sunday School class to select and pray for a college or university.

Now It’s Your Turn: What topics would you like to see addressed here on the 1-Minute Sunday School Trainer?  Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

Disclosure 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.”

 

January 26, 2017
by Walter Norvell
0 comments

If No One Comes

Your worst fears in launching a new group usually boil down to this: what if no one comes? It’s a reality. It can happen and it does happen. In Small Groups for the Rest of Us, Chris Surratt addresses this topic.

Surratt offers several questions to help us discern why no one showed up. Here are his questions and some of my ideas:

  1. Is the group being hosted in a remote area from the church? Location, location, location is the mantra in real estate. A new group can’t depend solely on church people to support it. Start working to invite neighbors, friends, and family to the new group. Other location issues include safety and accessibility. Parking can be an obstacle. Think these through in determining a location for a new small group.
  2. Is the group’s focus too narrow? You may be targeting a group or a particular need that is simply not likely to draw a crowd. I joke with students about the challenges of starting a new group for moms of identical twins who also raise chihuahuas. We can make a group’s focus so small that no one will come.
  3. Are they meeting on an unpopular night? The meeting time is important. In my community, there is no sense in launching a small group in the fall on Friday night. The whole town will be at the football game. I have led successful guys’ groups by meeting weekly at 6:00 AM, but they were select groups with strong commitment. Evaluate your meeting night and time.
  4. Are meetings consistent enough? Small groups don’t have to meet once a week, but all too often, groups that only meet once a month never develop the synergy that helps a group form and connect. I would try my best to meet weekly, at least when the group is beginning.
  5. Is the leader or host too weird? Not everyone who wants to lead a group should lead a group. I know this is a tough issue, but if people will not attend, do you let an awkward leader facilitate? There may be other ways to help that awkward facilitator share a role in a small group without being the main leader. Try to never “fire” a volunteer, but always help every volunteer to find his or her sweet spot in service.

When a group has no one attending, do your research and try to discern the reason. Make adjustments and in a few months, attempt to launch again.

Please remember to pray this through. Let’s pray about our small group strategies, our small group leaders, and our small groups. Ask the Lord to give you insights and help you discern direction and leadership. Small groups is a strategy that helps us be on mission, taking the gospel to those who haven’t heard it yet and then helping people be open for spiritual transformation. God works through small groups so let’s look to see what He is doing and then let’s join Him on the mission.

Scripture: Read Acts 17:11. The Bereans were eager to hear and receive the Word of God. Pray that your Sunday School class or small group will develop an eagerness for the Word of God

Dig Deeper: Read Small Groups for the Rest of Us by Chris Surratt.  

Now It’s Your Turn: Have you ever had a time when no one showed up for Bible study? What did you do? What kept you from being discouraged? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

Disclosure 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.”

January 23, 2017
by Walter Norvell
0 comments

Inviting Your Neighbors to Your Group

Groups grow when members invite their friends and neighbors to attend the group. But, in many neighborhoods, people seldom even know their neighbors. Just this past week, a student lamented that she and her husband don’t know anyone in their apartment complex. Chris Surratt, in Small Groups for the Rest of Us, deals with this question about inviting your neighbors to your small group.

Here are some ideas from Surrat:

  • Throw a block party, but don’t pull a switch-and-bait tactic where you invite them for a “party” but it’s all about getting them into your group. Throw the party and build relationships.
  • Participate in Halloween. Yeah, there is a lot of controversy here, but why not sit outside on Halloween, greet your neighbors, pass out great candy, and get to know people. I think this signals to your neighbors that your house and yard are safe places for their kids.
  • Host a movie night on your lawn for neighbors. Get a great family and kid-safe movie, pop up lots of corn and have a relaxed time.
  • Participate in neighborhood-sponsored events. It might be an Easter egg hunt or Christmas decorating in the yard. Be a part. You communicate value to your neighbors.
  • Be the nicest house on the street. Everyone knows there are some houses to be avoided. Don’t be that one.

Here are some of my ideas to add:

  • Be a good neighbor. Loan tools. Offer to help neighbors spruce up or clean up. Speak to people and wave as you see them.
  • Be in the front yard or on the front porch a lot. Front porches are the place where you can make yourself available to neighbors.
  • Play with your kids a lot in the front yard. Get neighbor kids involved. Let them draw chalk pictures on your driveway. Play games with them. Break out a few simple refreshments from time to time. What kid wouldn’t enjoy a popsicle after a fast game of dodgeball on the drive?
  • Go to places in your neighbor that other neighbors frequent: the local park, the community garden, a local coffee shop, an ice cream parlor, a neighborhood walking path.
  • Help kids fix up their bikes and ride safely.
  • Keep your place up. Don’t make a nice lawn off-limits. Grow a nice lawn so people can use it.
  • Participate in a Neighborhood Watch program.
  • Get involved in organizations that attract your neighbors as well: the local PTA, your neighborhood association meetings, etc.
  • Get together a kids’ sports team from your neighborhood and coach it. Talk to your local parks and recreation office for other ideas like this.

All these suggestions center on opening yourself up to friendships. Friends are usually open to invitations to Bible studies and church services. Be that kind of neighbor and see what avenues of ministry the Lord may open for you.

Scripture: Read and meditate on Proverbs 12:26. How does this verse apply to you?

Dig Deeper: Read Small Groups for the Rest of Us by Chris Surratt.

Now It’s Your Turn: What ideas do you have about being the kind of neighbor who is successful in inviting people into your small group, Sunday School, or church services?  Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

Disclosure 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.”

January 19, 2017
by Walter Norvell
0 comments

How Your Group Can Start a New Group

Anytime someone talks to a Sunday School group or a small group about starting a new group, the first comment is often, “We don’t want to split up!”

Answering the “Why?” of starting new groups is easy. New groups just reach more people. Couple that with a clear strategy in your church for reaching new people, and new groups can become a life-giving artery for your church’s growth and expanded ministry. The “How?” question is a bit more difficult to answer. In Small Groups for the Rest of Us, Chris Surratt gives us some good ideas.

Remember, a successful group may well become too large for an effective small group experience. More groups are almost always desirable over bigger but fewer groups. Let me offer some ideas about one group starting another:

  • Build into every group in your church the idea that every group will start a new group. When that idea is embedded in the group, the group isn’t “splitting up,” it is birthing a new group. What’s more wonderful than a birth!
  • Develop multiple leaders in every group. A group leader should seek to prepare at least one member for group leadership, preparing two or three is even better. The group develops confidence in new emerging leaders and are open to following one of their own.
  • Talk often in group times and with individuals about the wonderful opportunities that new groups bring in building up your church and reaching lost and unchurched people.
  • Engage the whole group in planning to birth a new group. Talk about who will lead, who will be the additional 2-4 people or couples who will help start the group, and set a launch date. Talk about these plans with great anticipation and high expectations.
  • At the last group meeting before the new group launches, plan a birthday party. Get a cake and refreshments. Have a purposeful time of prayer with those who will stay and rebuild the old group and with those starting the new group.
  • Plan a reunion in three months. Make this a time of celebration. Let members from each group share how they have experienced God’s blessing in the effort. Invite some guests to this reunion party who would be likely new members for both groups.

Your church might take the opportunity to recognize the start of a new group during a worship service. Such recognition celebrates God’s work among His people. It also creates awareness of starting new groups. One group’s example might lead other groups to start new groups. Starting new groups should not be viewed as an exceptional event but a very normal event. This is what doing life together creates. This is putting feet on the ground for the Great Commission in your very community. Go, start a new group.

Scripture: Read Isaiah 43:18-19. God assured His people that He was about to do a new thing. God wants to do new things in our churches and our lives even now.

Dig Deeper: Read Chris Surratt’s great little book, Small Groups for the Rest of Us.

Now It’s Your Turn: What ideas might you have about how to help one group successfully and happily launch a new group? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.

Disclosure 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.”