small groups

CONNECT 1-2-3

UnknownConnecting with people rarely just “happens.” The best of relationships take purpose and practice!

Use the CONNECT 1-2-3 worksheet to help focus you (and your small group’s) desire to connect with others for Jesus Christ. The concept is simple…

Connect with 1 person who isn’t connected to Jesus. People who are searching for Jesus are all around us. They may or may not know it yet, but He is the answer. Fortunately, we know He is the way, truth and life. Begin to pray for and purpose to connect with them for Christ. Show a genuine interest in them, their families, their hobbies, hopes and hurts. Invite them to join you in a small group, maybe even worship or other event soon. Most importantly, tell them about your own journey of faith in Jesus.

Reconnect with 2 people you have lost contact with. There is no “auto pilot” for healthy relationships. Life happens and, when it does, things aren’t the first things to suffer. Relationships must be purposed. It may be a little awkward at first. However, they may be waiting and wondering themselves, “What happened?” Be honest. Keep it simple. Call them. Text them… get together soon for coffee to catch up. Whatever you do, be intentional about reconnecting with them and encouraging them in Christ.

Encourage 3 people who need it. People have either just been, are, or are about to go through something that will leave them in need of a friend. Be that friend! We are reminded in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

Finally, pray for those “divine appointments” and be as ready as you are grateful for every opportunity God brings you to build relationships that connect people with the Lord Jesus Christ! There are no “chance meetings” for the follower of Jesus.

Get your free pdf here Connect123

Check out the Free Resources page for more downloads including the CONNECT Guide example for guiding people from guest to engaged member!

The Beauty of Foot Washing

images-1Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:14-15

What is footwashing and why should you experience it? This practice is an increasingly lost art on much of Christendom. It is the simple act of kneeling before someone and doing as the name implies and Jesus modeled, washing their feet. It is most often ceremonial (minus actual soap and scrubbing) yet the simple process of holding and “washing” in a bowl and drying with a towel is observed.

Consider 4 reasons you, your family, lead team and/or a small group should experience this ancient act…

No1 – It’s humbling. Obviously. It’s the work of a servant. But what you may discover is not simply how humbling it is to wash someone’s feet, but also to have someone wash yours. From someone you love and respect to someone you may have never met, there is a deeper work of the heart involved in this sacred act.

No2 – It lends perspective. Beyond humility, the vulnerability of the act itself is revealing. Is there hidden pride in my heart? Where do I see myself in relation to the Lord and others? Jesus’ question in John’s memory probes deeper still, “Do you understand what I have done for you?”

No3 – It’s an act of worship. The penitent posture it requires positions not only our bodies, but our souls aright before the Lord. The fragrance of such an act wafts its way before the throne of God with a sweetness that pleases the Master. He is the Savior who stooped low that we might stand before the Father. We have perhaps never been as close to God than when bowed to wash the feet of another.

No4 – Jesus said so. Okay, it’s debatable for some theologians whether he meant for us to practice this as literally as an ordinance or metaphorically as we serve others daily. Then again, maybe it’s both? It has the same credentials as the other more accepted ordinances (Baptism and Communion). Jesus modeled it, asked it of us, and the early church practiced it. Shouldn’t this be enough to encourage us to follow His lead?

Maybe this practice is not only new, but scary for you? Take the opportunity to just observe at first. Then, take the risk. Grab a towel, bend your knee and join Jesus in this timeless and sacred moment.

What about the experience of footwashing has been profound to you? How has it impacted you, your family or lead team? Share your thoughts in the Reply section below…

3 Ways to Make Thanksgiving a Verb

imagesWe all know thanksgiving should be more than a day to gather with family and eat too much turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie only to drift off into a tryptophan induced coma. The truly grateful see it as a verb. When it comes to our churches, it is tempting for the entire holiday season to come down to a series of services that celebrate what we should be living out every day of our lives. So, let’s “talk turkey” about giving thanks (Sorry, couldn’t resist.).

Here are three simple suggestion for engaging your family, small group and/or congregation in making thanksgiving a verb…

1) “Thanksgiving Crash!” Set a specific date and challenge everyone to post about something or someone they are thankful to God for on your personal, family or church’s social media sites. The only people not happy about this one may be your Social Media Team if you succeed in the “Thanksgiving Crash!”

2) Thanksgiving Letter. Challenge everyone to write a letter expressing gratitude to someone who has played a major role and had a big influence on their lives for Christ. They can email it, message it, or… they might even take the time to write it, fold it, stamp and mail it. There is still something to having and holding documents of significance. And, a letter that says, “I thank God for you!” may just be that for someone in your life.

3) Thanksgiving Offering. Prepare a space in your home or a table (or multiple stations) in your worship center. Decorate it simply so the focus will be on the centerpiece… an empty “Horn of Plenty.” Then, create “My Thanksgiving Offering” cards that everyone can use to write something they are thankful to the Lord for and then place it in the “Horn of Plenty.” ThankOfferingCard Make it a goal for the horn and table to overflow with thanksgiving to God for His amazing grace and love.

This year, make Thanksgiving a verb as never before. Take your gratitude to a whole other level with these simple ideas. Have other ideas? Leave your suggestion in the comment section below!

Next Step Discipleship

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)

There is no greater decision than the one to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus. Perhaps you just partnered to lead someone in this decision or, maybe you just decided for yourself? The first question that often comes to mind is, “What’s next?”

What do you do to follow up with a brand new Christian when they aren’t attending a worship service, life group, or a new believer’s 101 course? What will they do in the next few days or even hours when you aren’t there to answer questions, pray for and encourage them over coffee? Introducing an exciting and simple tool for new Christians… Next Step Discipleship! See www.nextstepdiscipleship.org.  Utilizing “Stretching and Growing – A Guide for the New Christian” by Dr. Charles Shumate. This resource promises to help make discipleship possible in real time and in the real world of everyday life as never before.

Are you less than computer savvy? Not to worry. Large tabs make navigation as simple as clicking a button. Several features make this multi-platform resource a comprehensive and user-friendly tool that will lay a solid foundation for a lifetime of discipleship. If you have your computer or smart-phone with you now, follow along as we highlight a few items…

Introductory videos… an informal synopsis of each lesson is given by the host. These videos summarize what a new Christian will be learning. These can also be used for promotion in services and/or as an introduction to each lesson in the small group setting.

Daily texts… simply text “NEXT” to 95577. This feature will automatically send daily reminders, instructions, and encouragements for the first 30 days of a new believer’s journey. If you are hoping to take this journey with someone you recently led to Christ… opt into this exciting option and take the journey with them!

Resources/Lessons… ten lessons have been adapted from “Stretching and Growing” that will instruct and guide with ample Scriptural references, simple explanations, and relevant illustrations.

“Download Exercises”… these will guide you deeper in conversation and help make the vital connection between biblical principle and daily life application.

Whether you are a new Christian or simply want to walk faithfully with someone who is, Next Step Discipleship is an exiting new platform that will help answer the question new Christ followers want to know, “What’s next?”

 

Note: It was a privilege to partner in script writing and content creation with it’s designer, Pastor Jonathan Absher (Lead Pastor, Lifebrook Church, Bethalto, Illinois). See http://www.lifebrookchurch.org/  for more information about Jon and Lifebrook Church.