September 2008

Rick Warren, best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, and Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA writes, “I believe God is preparing the church for another reformation. The first reformation focused on what the church believed; this one will focus on what it does.” Click here to read the rest of the article.

If people are going to join your small groups they’ve gotta know about them and you’ve got to connect with the heartbeat of the future small group member. Some people will consider small groups if you touch their warm fuzzy places, others if you can turn on the laughter, other people will consider if you energize them through creativity. I found this video on youtube (I dare you to go to youtube and type in “small groups.” You’ll be jazzed when you see how much stuff is there!).

Check out this animated celebrity small group. This is too cool!

There is a lot of stuff about small groups not only on youtube but on other blogs. You might want to check some of these out. They range from small group company blogs who give answers to small group questions to churches with small group blogs.

Saddleback Small Group Blog

Big Ideas About Small Groups

Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles

Broadway Church, Boise, Idaho with Dan Lentz

Small Groups Guy


Deep.” “Depth.” These are words I have used a lot —A LOT—to describe ideas at varying levels over the course of my life. They are terms that, for the most part, require no additional explanation … right? We all know what we’re talking about and we agreed about what we mean when we use words like “deep” a long time ago.

But I wonder.

I wonder if what people really mean by “depth” is information; facts. Maybe even words on a page or even the size of the words. Maybe we refer to knowledge that can be wielded like a sharp instrument in times of need. I wonder if knowledge—even good knowledge—is not so much about growth as it is about one’s default–my defaults, your defaults. That is, to prove I am a person of substance, of some relevance to the world around me, I have been conditioned to believe that I need to be armed with certain facts and special knowledge. I find comfort in fact; find comfort in things that are absolute and can be quantified with certainty. With facts I am not open to examination and, a nice by-product, I can keep people at a safe distance. Fact is commensurate with formula.

But what is knowledge without the intrinsic mediation of the heart?

I almost always try to talk movies during a haircut. Call it my “safe place.” I can’t explain it, but something about the scissors whirring around my ears drives me to a place of would-be and hopeful safety. (Or maybe I want to avoid a meaningful conversation while captive in the stylist’s chair.) Magnolia. No. There Will Be Blood. No. Hotel Rwanda. No. The stylist and I recently found common ground in that we had both seen The Dark Knight. Upon mention of the recent Batman movie, she issued a cease-cutting order that went out to her extremities. Pausing momentarily, she looked at me now instead of my reflection in order to capture the gravity of the moment, and said in a way any Southerner would recognize, “Now that’ll make you think.”

During group time we need more “That’ll make you think” moments and less “Wow I didn’t know that” moments. Facts are comfortable and safe. They are predictable. Not wrong or unimportant, mind you, but not the pinnacle of group time either. Proposition is neither transformational nor redemptive. Allowing group time to become a dazzling array of facts robs us of story, heart, and meaning. As group leaders and small-group pastors, encourage members to go beyond rote and pat answers and look for the story behind the text. Challenge them to know their own stories and the ways God wants to redeem them. We need to look deep inside who we are and who we are becoming. To find true redemptive community a group should relegate facts and special knowledge to a percentage—a small percentage—of the group experience.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem [Nashville, Nashville]!… How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Luke 13:34

Building upon building filled with people on a journey; some of them seeking spiritual truth. I want to be an instrument used to point them to His “nest”…

 God seems to be directing a lot of Christians to coffee shops so they can make Jesus famous. The latest statistics are showing that millions of people meet in coffee shops for “spiritual conversations” on a weekly basis. Many of these people will never come to church or an in-house small group meeting. This pre-existing audience in need of Jesus is almost untouched. The groups are already there discussing various belief systems, not necessarily Christianity. Many of these groups are mixed groups made up of agnostics, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, and people who are simply apathetic about any belief system at all. Joining or starting of group of this nature will allow an individual to insert the name of Jesus into the conversation as well as sharing the Word of God with the group.

If you decide to start of group of this type you may be wondering how to recruit people to join you… a few ideas:

  1. Simply ask the coffee shop if you can put up an announcement telling what day and time. They will most likely be excited about this as you are bringing consistent business to them.
  2. Invite friends from work, people you meet at the grocery store, neighbors of yours, etc…, anyone who you start a conversation with and you sense a chemistry with them. That sense of oneness may well be from God.
  3. If you are near condominiums or an apartment building go door to door and place a personal letter from you under the doors of people living in the complex. The letter should be written in very personal language inviting people into the conversation. Don’t give your address though. This could be dangerous. And, if possible, follow-up by going door to door asking people if they got your letter and seeing if they’d like to join you. It would be best if you didn’t go into the apartment or condo even if invited until you know the persons you are talking with.
  4. Go to the same coffee shop at least four weeks in a row at the time you plan on having your group meeting. See if there are people who tend to be there consistently on that day and time each week. God may have put a group in place for you already.
  5. Something to keep in mind… Since your goal is to make Jesus famous with a group of people who don’t know of His stardom yet, you may want to see what groups are already meeting in the coffee shop near you. Joining a pre-existing group without leading the group will allow you to share the facts found in the Bible and the name of Jesus just as intently. In fact, when telling how His story has changed your story you may be less intimidating as an equal member of the group.


We church planters are always looking for locations and situations where we can connect with people in an environment that is comfortable for both parties. This is it!

If you decide to make Jesus famous in your local coffee shop by being part of a small group of this kind, Serendipity by LifeWay has a resource written specifically for this setting. The series is titled “Soul Cafe.” A description of these studies reads… “Soul Cafe is a series of open-ended conversations developed to drive you deeper into the story God is revealing. Soul Cafe is not a place for being comfortable or indifferent. It’s personal, penetrating, raw. It isn’t for the religiously refined; rather it’s much better suited for spiritual barbarians.” You can find this resource by going to

If you’re a church planter and you want to delve deeply into small groups that transform a community, don’t miss Exponential, one of the best church planting events for 2009.