August 25, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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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.”

 

August 22, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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How Should We Pray?

The 1-Minute Sunday School Trainer Template 2016-08-Recently we have been thinking about praying for revival and awakening and learning from the Bible what to pray for. Now let’s consider what the Bible teaches us about how to pray.

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Prayer is a matter of the heart. It is conversation with God. While there are not magic formulas with prayer, the Bible informs us of attitudes that help us pray. Here are verses that help us know how to pray.

  • Philippians 4:6; Psalm 100:4 – Pray with thanksgiving.
  • Mark 11:24 – Believe as you pray.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18 – Pray without ceasing.
  • Romans 8:26 – Pray with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
  • Matthew 6:7 – Pray with meaning.
  • Matthew 6:6 – Pray privately.
  • Matthew 26:41 – Pray in a watchful manner.
  • 1 Timothy 2:5 – Pray in the name of Jesus our Mediator.
  • Colossians 4:2 – Be steadfast in prayer.
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 – Pray humbly.
  • Matthew 18:19-20 – Pray in agreement with others.
  • 1 Timothy 2:8 – Pray without anger and quarreling.
  • 1 John 5:14-15 – Pray with confidence in God that He hears.
  • Matthew 21:22 – Pray in faith.
  • Luke 11:9-13 – Pray persistently.
  • Psalm 145:18-19 – Fear the Lord.
  • John 9:31 – Pray in obedience.
  • James 1:6-7 – Pray in faith without doubt.
  • Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8 – Think of your prayers as incense before God.
  • Philippians 1:4 – Pray with joy.
  • Psalm 51:2 – Confess sins.
  • Romans 12:12 – Be constant in prayer.

Andrew Murray was a pastor in South Africa in the late 1800s. His many books on prayer are a great resource to help us with prayer. So, I close with some quotes by Murray:

  • “Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things ‘above all that we ask or think.”
  • “Each time you intercede, be quiet first and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, of how He delights to hear Christ, of your place in Christ, and expect great things.”
  • “Faith in a prayer-hearing God will make a prayer-loving Christian.”
  • “If the spiritual life be healthy, under the full power of the Holy Spirit, praying without ceasing will be natural.”
  • “In intercession our King upon the throne finds His highest glory; in it we shall find our highest glory too.”
  • “Is the prayer of my lips really the prayer of my life?”

(See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2010/08/23/prayer-quotes-andrew-murray/#sthash.LY4CrG0H.dpuf)

Scripture: Read the prayer of Asa in 2 Chronicles 14:9-15. What ideas above can you find in Asa’s prayer?

Dig Deeper: For more help with prayer, go to www.Prayer-Coach.com.

Now It’s Your Turn: When you approach the Lord, what attitude do you concentrate on as you pray? 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 18, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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What Should We Pray For?

In the last post, we thought about praying for revival and awakening. The question came up about how do we know what God wants us to pray for. Great question. And, as almost everything else about God, the way to know what God wants or expects is to read the Bible. He tells us. So, we can assume that He gives us guidance about praying.

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Here are a few, and only a few ideas from God’s Word that helps us know what to pray for.

  • Philippians 4:6 – Make your requests known to God with thanksgiving.
  • Romans 8:26 – When we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us.
  • John 15:7 – Pray that you abide in Christ.
  • Hebrews 4:16 – Ask for mercy and grace.
  • Luke 11:2 – Pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth.
  • Luke 11:3 – Pray for daily needs.
  • Luke 11:4 – Ask for forgiveness of sins.
  • Matthew 26:41 – Pray that you do not experience temptation.
  • James 5:13 – Pray for the sick.
  • James 5:16 – Confess your sins.
  • James 5:16 – Pray for one another.
  • James 1:5 – Pray for wisdom.
  • Psalm 127:1 – Pray for God’s watch over your community.
  • 1 Timothy 2:1 – Pray for all people.
  • 1 Timothy 2:2 – Pray for kings (or elected officials in our culture).
  • Ephesians 6:18 – Pray for brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Luke 18:1 – Pray for courage and pray to avoid discouragement.
  • Luke 6:27-28 – Pray for enemies and those who abuse you.
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 – Pray to seek God.
  • Matthew 9:37-38 – Pray for kingdom workers who will work in God’s harvest.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:25 – Pray for spiritual leaders.
  • Psalm 55:22 – Give your burdens to the Lord.
  • 1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxieties on the Lord.

Use these verses to guide your private prayers. You can also help small group members use these verses to guide the group as they pray together.

Remember, there is no limit to God’s ability and willingness to help. So, let’s pray and believe that God will help us, hear our prayers, and give us His greatest blessings.

Scripture: Jesus taught us how to pray. Read Matthew 6:9-13.

Dig Deeper: Read Andrew Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer.

Now It’s Your Turn: How has the Bible encouraged you to pray? 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 15, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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Praying for Revival

A young friend whom I love and respect very much recently asked me, “Are we due for an awakening?” The question challenged me. I thought about it in several ways. First, are we “due” anything from God? Obviously God owes us nothing, but He chooses to respond to us out of His grace.  Second, are we overdue another great awakening? I think we are. The last great awakening in our country was in the early 1800s. Most church historians now think the Jesus Movement of the early 1970s should have been an awakening but the American churches rejected it.

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Then my friend asked if we should pray for an awakening. How do we know that is what God wants? If we pray for it, are we manipulating God or others? These questions are easily to answer. We should and must pray for an awakening. We must pray that God will revive His church and that the church will pray for the lost and unchurched until many awaken to God’s grace.

Are we manipulating God if we pray for awakening? No. Our challenge in prayer is to determine what God wants to do and ask Him to do it. To pray for a revival for the church and awakening for the lost is God’s will. We can confidently take up this task, entreating God to bring all His great riches to bear in reviving the church and saving multitudes. God is doggedly determined to redeem. Praying for revival and awakening is God’s work for us.

Do we need revival in the church and an awakening in our culture, and our world?

Have you watched the news lately? Sixty-five million people are displaced as refuges. Racial tensions abound. Watch groups are pointing out the rise of religious persecution. In our country many strongly-held Christian values are under attack, rather successfully I might add. One in four Americans are concerned about religious freedom in our own country. More Americans than ever consider themselves having no religion at all.

The church has always been at odds with the culture when the church is being God’s church, faithfully obeying Him. Yet, maybe, the church spent many years being cozy with the culture so that few could see a difference between the church and the culture. Now that the culture is rejecting God even more, a stark difference may be surfacing.

Look at Lamentations 3. This poetic book of laments was penned by Jeremiah as Jerusalem fell to Babylon. Judaism had become cultural. Priests were not teaching God’s Word to the people. Their trust was in the externals of their faith, namely the temple and its rituals. But the tools to bring people closer to God had become lifeless stumbling blocks. Now it seemed all was about to be lost.

Read the chapter. Listen for Jeremiah’s hurt and loss.  His suffering is bone-deep. His pain is beyond his imagination (v. 1-17). Yet, listen for his hope. His hope is in the Lord no matter what Judah has done. Verse 18 says Jeremiah had come to the end of his endurance and his hope. But in verse 21, Jeremiah remembers, despite his hurt, who his graceful God is (v. 22-33). His hope is rekindled. God’s love is new every morning.  God is good to those who wait on Him. He does not cast off His wayward people forever.

So, when we have sinned against the Lord, what are we to do? We are to test and examine our ways and return to the Lord (v. 40-41).

This passage is clearly about Judah in the 6th century BC. But, what are the principles here? Old Testament believers and New Testament believers are alike. When we sin, when we have been unfaithful to God, we are to examine our lives. We confess. We repent. We commit to ourselves anew to obeying God.

So, let us pray for a revival in God’s church. Let us repent of our love for this world. Let us bring justice to the least, the last and the lost. Let us offer faith to our lost friends and neighbors. Let us encourage faithfulness in our Christian brothers and sisters. Let’s humbly seek the Lord. Let us pray without ceasing. Let us pray for our leaders.

What hangs in the balance? I cannot say for sure, but I know that the eternal destiny of millions of human beings hangs in the balance. I know that God answers prayer. I know He wants us to pray for the church and for the lost.

Why do we tarry to pray like this?

You have to answer that question.

Scripture: Read Lamentations 3. What does this passage say to you about praying for revival?

Dig Deeper: Read Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill.

Now It’s Your Turn: What need do you feel about praying for revival and awakening? 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 11, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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Remember the Context

When was the last time you heard this: a person is struggling with an obstacle in his or her life without an answer so he or she says something like, “Well, God’s ways are above our ways.” You have probably said it. I know I have. And while our statements are true, we base them on Isaiah 55:8-9.

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I think we are misapplying these verses because we have taken them out of context. And while we think this is comforting, the verse IN CONTEXT is absolutely glorious and reveals God’s marvelous comfort instead of our attempts to defend God because our lives are not going as we planned. Here is what I mean.

Read Isaiah 55. Notice this outline in the chapter:

  • Verses 1-3: An invitation to participate in God’s covenant
  • Verses 4-5: God’s plan for his covenant people
  • Verses 6-7: Though your sins are great, come for God will pardon
  • Verses 8-9: Despite our sinfulness, God’s desire to pardon is greater still
  • Verses 10-11: As demonstrated by the faithfulness of the seasons, God is faithful
  • Verses 12-13: The results of God’s grace-filled covenant

Putting verses 8-9 into context, we find a greater truth that we can’t understand all that God does. In context the verses show us why God’s thoughts are not like ours. If His thoughts were like ours, there would be no pardon for the great sinfulness we express. Our sins demand just punishment, but since God’s thoughts and ways are greater than ours, He pardons us. He reveals His grace to us. So the verses are not teaching that God’s ways are unknowable. Instead the prophet marvels that this great, just, perfect, holy God will stoop to us and redeem us. This is what we struggle to grasp. This is the wunderkind of God’s love. All we can do is gape at how He, transcendent as He is, condescends to us and makes us His own. When it comes to God’s response to our sin, when we repent, God’s ways are knowable! His way is grace! If we treat verses 8-9 to the lesser meaning that God is just unknowable to us, then we miss the aspect of God’s beauty and we overlook His compassion on us. One way to help us consider context is to outline the passage.

So, as you study God’s Word, especially as you teach and guide a small group, remember to always keep the passage in context. Every time, context will exceed our meager understandings. Context allows God’s Word to shine its glory into our lives.

Scripture: Read Isaiah 55:11. How does this promise about the purpose of God’s Word speak to us as we study God’s Word?

Dig Deeper: Read How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.

Now It’s Your Turn: As you prepare for your next group study, outline your passage. What did you learn?  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 8, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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Including Everyone

While the secular community around us often thinks of the church in stereotypical ways, we are far more than that. We desire that our churches and our small groups reflect the communities where we live. And, we want to be careful in the way we teach and lead so that we are not appearing to be stereotypical ourselves. Many churches choose to recognize male leadership but be sure you have all your attitudes and beliefs about ethnicity and gender deeply rooted in God’s Word.

Often, without even thinking about it, we promote ideas that are contrary to what we know and what we believe. There are always exceptions to any ideas I give here. Men’s groups and women’s groups should focus on the appropriate gender, but even then we can make sure that we are showing that we accept and welcome all persons, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds. Here are some ideas for demonstrating in our small groups the inclusiveness of the family of God.

  • Use illustrations and case studies that use ethnic names.
  • Use pictures and posters of ethnic people and both men and women.
  • If you use PowerPoint presentations with photos that depict people, choose photos showing various ethnic persons. I use many free photos and graphics found at pixabay.com to help me find pictures of people of various ages, ethnicities, and both men and women.
  • Be aware of words and phrases that have limited meaning across ethnicities.
  • Never, never, NEVER use any words or phrases that can be understood as racial or as a putdown to any group of people.
  • Treat everyone in your group as equals, all image bearers of God the Father. Never make any distinction to favor a minority, a majority, or any ethnic group.

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A note is needed here. If you are targeting a specific group (men, women, college students, internationals, etc.) then focus on that group. If your church holds male leadership as an important biblical principle, follow your biblical beliefs. But, even with these caveats, be inclusive. Never make a sexual, gender, ethnic, or racial slur.

One day, when Jesus has returned and He has established His kingdom forever, it will be a kingdom of every tribe, tongue, and nation. If we are concerned about the kingdom, then our churches and small groups must already reflect that beautiful future.

Scripture: Read Exodus 22:21 and 23:9. Both verses describe how God’s people were to treat outsiders (like ethnics in our culture) and why they were to treat them with such respect. God’s people were once sojourners as well. They knew what that experience as all about. How do these verses help us determine ways to be inclusive in our small groups?

Dig Deeper: Read “Multiethnic Small Groups Matter” by Amy Jackson.

Now It’s Your Turn: How is your small group working to be inclusive of people who may be unlike the 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.”

 

 

August 4, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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Small Groups Praying for Their Community

Prayer, in many ways, is a mysterious yet practical aspect of following Jesus. I believe God is working His plan. And I also believe that when I engage in prayer, at God’s invitation, I work with Him to bring His resources to bear in establishing His kingdom. In the previous blogs we considered how to pray for our pastor and other ministers and how to pray for our church.

Your small group and your church is situated in a greater community, typically a community that does not know our Lord. Your group’s prayers can make a difference in your community. Can you think of anything in your community that does not align with God’s truths? If you can, then you see the importance of leading your small group to pray earnestly, faithfully, and continually for your community. Here are 40 ways to help your group pray for your community:

I can think of at least 40 ways your small group can pray for their community.

  • Pray for economic stability and the growth of your community.
  • Pray for an increase of jobs in your community.
  • Pray for the schools in your community: elementary, middle, and high school, as well as any colleges in your community.
  • Pray for teachers and school officials in your community.
  • Pray for school bus drivers in your community.
  • Pray for your city’s elected and appointed officials. Check the internet for names and offices.
  • Pray for your county’s elected and appointed officials. Check the internet for names and offices.
  • Pray for state legislators and other state officers who influence your community.
  • Pray for federal legislators and other federal officers who influence your community.
  • Pray for elections, candidates, and voters.

“People may refuse our love or reject our message, but they are defenseless against our prayers.” – Rick Warren (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2012/10/25/prayer-quotes-rick-warren/#sthash.tiz1TZtu.dpuf)

  • Pray for your local law enforcement officers.
  • Pray for your local first responders.
  • Pray that God will intervene and reduce crime in your community.
  • Pray that racial tensions will relax and groups will unify.

“Anyone can do the possible. Add courage and zeal, some may do the phenomenal. But only Christians are obliged to do the impossible.” – W. A. Tozer (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2011/05/17/prayer-quotes-a-w-tozer-2/#sthash.ezQyGHpu.dpuf)

  • Pray for athletic events in your community, including any known Christians on those teams.
  • Pray for community events that these events will create community and unity and for safety.
  • Pray for families in your community.
  • Pray for foster families in your community.
  • Pray against vice, rebellion, unlawful actions, and other disruptive behaviors that could harm persons in your community.

“In prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills.” – Richard Foster ) See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2011/09/19/prayer-quotes-richard-foster/#sthash.iJj49EAl.dpuf)

  • Pray for medical and health care personnel, hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics.
  • Pray for safety in shopping and retail areas in your community.
  • Pray for homeless and other displaced people in your community.
  • Pray for construction projects and the safety of construction workers in your community.
  • Pray for the lost and unchurched in your community.
  • Pray for specific neighborhoods.
  • Pray for new home constructions in your area.
  • Pray about events and persons in the local news.

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense.” – Oswald Chambers (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2011/08/18/prayer-quotes-oswald-chambers-2/#sthash.Ioit51mn.dpuf)

  • Pray for people in the community who are experiencing grief and loss.
  • Pray for new parents in the community.
  • Pray for safety and protection in your local parks and playgrounds.
  • Pray for civic and service organizations in your community.
  • Pray for local businesses and business leaders to deal justly with customers and clients.
  • Pray for a sense of generosity and service in your community.
  • Pray for new jobs and economic growth for everyone in your community.

“In all states of dilemma or of difficulty, prayer is an available source. The ship of prayer may sail through all temptations, doubts and fears, straight up to the throne of God; and though she may be outward bound with only griefs, and groans, and sighs, she shall return freighted with a wealth of blessings!” – Charles Spurgeon (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2010/10/04/prayer-quotes-charles-spurgeon/#sthash.PaIA2aGM.dpuf)

  • Pray for all the churches in your community to be Bible-believing and Bible preaching congregations.
  • Pray for the pastors in the churches of your community.
  • Pray for peace in your community.
  • Pray that neighbors will be neighbors to one another and care for each other.
  • Pray for ______________________.

Scripture: Read Jeremiah 29:7. This is in Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon. He told them to pray for the welfare of Babylon. He said, “for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” How can we apply that today to praying for our communities?

Dig Deeper: Read The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.

Now It’s Your Turn: What are three things in your community that you are praying for? 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 1, 2016
by Walter Norvell
0 comments

Small Groups Praying for Their Church

Why don’t we pray in ways that match what we say we believe about prayer? I suspect that though we give prayer lip service, we don’t pray because we don’t make time to pray. I also suspect that we know so little about God and His work that we don’t know how to pray. We just keep praying the same old things.

Previously I posted a blog about praying for your pastor. You can find it here. Now let’s look how ideas for leading our small groups to prayer for your church. Here are 40 ideas to help kick start your group praying for your church:

  • Pray for unity (Ps. 133:1; Eph. 1:1-16; 1 Peter 3:8).
  • Pray that every member of the church will see the church’s mission as their every own.
  • Pray for the church’s numerical growth.
  • Pray for the church’s spiritual growth.
  • Pray for your pastor and other ministry staff.
  • Pray for confession and repentance among church members.
  • Pray for revival.
  • Pray that the will of God be done in and through your church.

“The most dangerous prayer you can pray is just 2 words: ‘Use me!’” – Rick Warren (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2012/10/25/prayer-quotes-rick-warren/#sthash.tiz1TZtu.dpuf)

  • Pray for your church’s reputation in the community.
  • Pray for church members to have personal character that will uphold the church’s reputation.
  • Pray for wisdom in using God’s resources of people, equipment, and finances.
  • Pray for leaders throughout the church: ministry teams, committees, and even the unofficial leaders every church has.
  • Pray for new leaders.
  • Pray for small group leaders and teachers throughout your church.
  • Pray for a missionary vision to grow in your church.

“If you only pray when you feel like it, Satan will make sure you never feel like it. – Rick Warren (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2012/10/25/prayer-quotes-rick-warren/#sthash.tiz1TZtu.dpuf)

  • Pray for specific needs of your congregation.
  • Pray for opportunities for church members to share their faith.
  • Pray that the church will grow burdened for the lost in your community.
  • Pray for key committees in your church: stewardship committee, finance committee, personnel committee, missions committee, evangelism committee, and others.
  • Pray for your church’s ministry to age groups in your church: preschool, children, youth/students, and adults.
  • Pray for new Bible study groups to start in your church.
  • Pray that the lost and unchurched of your community will become aware of your church in positive ways.

“Prayer honors God, acknowledges His being, exalts His power, adores His providence, secures His aid.” – E. M. Bounds (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2012/01/29/prayer-quotes-e-m-bounds-2/#sthash.Mk5VhrN5.dpuf)

  • Pray for new volunteers for your church’s various ministries.
  • Pray that members will capture visions for expanded ministry and will lead out.
  • Pray for the visitors attending your church’s worship services.
  • Pray for families and parents in your church.
  • Pray for special events your church may be hosting: camps, retreats, and outreach.
  • Pray that those traveling by your church’s physical location will view it positively and with interest.
  • Pray that those accessing your church’s website will view it positively and with interest.
  • Pray that the church will together seek out God’s purpose for the church.

“God’s purposes move along the pathway made by prayer to their glorious designs.” – E. M. Bounds (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2012/01/29/prayer-quotes-e-m-bounds-2/#sthash.Mk5VhrN5.dpuf)

  • Pray that God will bring lost and unchurched people to church services, small groups, and other events.
  • Pray that church members will influence their neighborhoods for the gospel.
  • Pray for churches who cooperate with your church so they will present a unified witness.
  • Pray that lost persons will be saved.
  • Ask God for resources needed to fulfill your church’s mission.
  • Ask God to put the names of others in your church on your hearts and pray for them.
  • Pray through your church’s prayer list.

“Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective.” – Oswald Chambers (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2011/08/18/prayer-quotes-oswald-chambers-2/#sthash.Ioit51mn.dpuf)

  • Pray for those in your church who are in special need: unemployed, ill, experiencing grief or loss, family stress, depression, and other needs.
  • Pray for ________________________.

Prayer is vital for every step in following Jesus and in everything the church does. Consider sharing this post with your group or even printing this list and asking group members to take 3 to 5 items as their personal prayer assignments. See if your group can add other prayer prompts to this list. Then encourage your group to pray faithfully and believing in faith that God will answer. From time to time, ask your group how their praying is going. Ask if any have already seen answers to these prayer requests. Celebrate God’s responses to your prayers and constantly encourage one another to pray.

“The name of Jesus, the power of his blood, and the prayer of faith have never lost their power over the centuries.” – Jim Cymbala (See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2015/09/08/prayer-quotes-jim-cymbala/#sthash.6clps9zc.dpuf)

Scripture: Read Colossians1:9-10. In what ways can you use Paul’s prayer description for the church at Colosse in praying for your church.

Dig Deeper: Read Disciple’s Prayer Life: Walking in Fellowship with God by T.W. Hunt and Catherine Walker.

Now It’s Your Turn: How does your small group pray for your church? 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.”

July 28, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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Small Groups Praying for Their Pastor

What are the important actions of a Jesus follower? I could answer that with a number of ideas: sharing faith with lost persons, stewarding God’s resources, and studying the Bible. I know you can argue with me, but I think the most important work of a believer is prayer. Prayer does many things, some of which include:

  • Aligning my life with God’s will.
  • Uniting me with other believers.
  • Acknowledging my dependence on God.
  • Asking for God’s resources to do God’s work.
  • Yielding my life to the leadership of God.
  • Submitting to the Holy Spirit.

If prayer is this important, then I must lead my small group in prayer, to prayer and to learn how to pray. Let’s spend some posts considering what and how small groups can pray together.

In this installment, let’s consider how to pray for your pastor. Help your small group pray for your church’s pastor (and ministerial staff) in some areas (in no particular order) like these. Pray for your pastor’s:

  • Study time. Ask God to protect his study time and make it effective.
  • Pastoring is stressful. He needs his health and his rest.
  • The enemy often attacks pastors’ marriages.
  • Ask God to help him find time for his family, to lead in disciplining his own children, and protecting his family for cruel criticism.
  • Walk with the Lord. Without a strong walk with the Lord, the pastor’s life is vulnerable and will go dry. The pastor’s spiritual life will often set the spiritual temperature of the church.
  • Ask God to him help be wise and loving toward those who are critical. Pray that criticism will cease.
  • Ask God to help him and his wife to set spending limits, save, and give liberally. Finances are huge issues for pastors and their families.
  • Sermon delivery at every service. Many pastors have to deliver three or more awesome, original sermons each week. How do they do it? Ask God to help them preach and teach effectively.
  • Daily activities. This includes study, funerals, sick visitation, evangelism, planning, committee and staff related work, meeting the public, counseling, and . . . Just think and you can add many more here.

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Make time on a regular basis to pray for your pastor in small group meetings. Do not use the time to critique the pastor. Use it to lift him up to the Lord. Encourage your group members to set aside specific times of prayer for your pastor. I once prayed for my pastor on the 14th of every month. I was born on the 14th of a month and that date was easy to remember. Sometimes I put a dime in my shoe so I prayed for him every time I felt that dime that day. Encourage group members to tell their pastor that they are praying for him. Ask them to actually pray with the pastor when they can catch an appropriate time.

I want to add a personal note here. I have never been a senior pastor or the pastor of a church. But I have spent twenty years serving churches as a staff minister. During those years I have heard several pastors passionately asking the congregation for prayers. However, I never heard a pastor encourage the congregation to pray for all their ministers. Though I was primarily a youth minister, I too, was a pastor, just not the senior pastor. I have never thought a pastor’s asking for prayer was an intentional slight to staff ministers, but I also remember many times when my heart was crying for prayer support at those very times. Senior pastors have the toughest job. Please pray for them. Most believers in our country attend churches where the church only has a pastor. But, if you are in a larger church with the wonderful blessing of multiple ministers, keep praying for your pastor and for every minister serving your church.

Scripture: Read Ezekiel 34. In this passage, the prophet was comparing the wicked shepherds who have mistreated and abandoned the people of God with Father God who shepherded His people in love and care. Meditate on this chapter and use it to pray for your pastor.

Dig Deeper: Talk to your pastor about praying for him. Ask him some questions to gather prayer requests from him: What are some ways I can pray for you? What is the critical day of the week when I need to pray for you the most? What tasks are ahead of you that I can pray for?  

Now It’s Your Turn: How does your small group or church intentionally pray for your pastor?  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.”

July 25, 2016
by Walter Norvell
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The Discipline of Journaling

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a bit about keeping a journal. This was a strong practice in my life during my younger years. Then I let it slide. A few years ago I began the practice again. Now I write in my journal on a regular basis. I have also picked up some ideas which help me be more practical with my journaling. Here are some ideas you might find useful in keeping a journal.

What Do I Need to Start a Journal?

There is no one way to journal. The approach you choose that enables regularly and purposeful journaling is your correct approach. You need a book of paper and a writing instrument.

  • Some will choose to journal on their computer or tablet device. If you do this, consider keeping a monthly document so you can manage it easier.
  • Some will get really fancy, hand-made journals.
  • Some use standard journals as I do. I use a Moleskine journal.
  • Some journal effectively with just a composition book.
  • Most will likely use their favorite pen. Ink does last longer than pencil. I use fountain pens and I alter which ink colors I use (for no significant reason).
  • Some will use colored inks, colored pencils, or even crayons to include artwork, doodles, diagrams or illustrations. I just write in cursive handwriting.
  • Some will take a collage approach, attaching photos or clippings to pages in their journals.

What Do I Write in My Journal?

You can write about anything. I don’t write every day and I am okay with that. You might include any combination of the following:

  • A daily review of your day.
  • Significant Bible verses or insights from your quiet time.
  • Prayers and prayer requests and answers.
  • Sermon and Bible study notes.
  • To-do lists.
  • Reading notes.
  • Personal reflections.

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How Does Journaling Help Me?

Lots of people are credited with saying “Thoughts disentangle themselves when passing over lips and through pencil tips.” I agree. Journaling may help you:

  • Get clarity about most anything you are thinking about.
  • Reflect about God’s work in your life.
  • Make a record of your growth and life.
  • Organize your life.
  • Record ideas to share with others.

What Tips Can Help Me Get Started with My Journal?

  • Number your pages.
  • Write your contact information inside the cover, just in case you lose it.
  • Keep your journal at your desk, by your favorite chair, or with your Bible.
  • Use the first page, front and back, and make a table of contents. If you take notes at a conference, list that on the TOC page. This helps you locate specific information in your journal.
  • I keep additional pages in the front for lists of blogs to read, books to read, movies to see, etc.
  • On the first inside, list the date the journal was started and the date the journal was completed. Completed journals go on my bookcase for storage and safe-keeping.

Do you HAVE to journal to be a good Christian? Of course not. But, journaling has proven an advantageous practice for many believers since the first century. Investigate journaling as an aid to your spiritual growth.

Scripture: Read Isaiah 30:8. God told Isaiah to write down His words as a “witness.” How can your journal also serve as a witness?

Dig Deeper: Journaling is gaining a lot of attention. If you want to explore journaling more, conduct an internet search. I also highly recommend reading the site at www.bulletjournal.com. It teaches an approach that helps you journal and organize your life.  

Now It’s Your Turn: If you keep a journal, what benefits do you experience? 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.”