May 2009

Hi, I’m “Syeira.” I am the production editor for Serendipity House and I am so pleased to be joining this band of gypsies and giving them a little feminine perspective.

Right now we’re working on a new series of studies for small groups called Small Group Life. We’re so excited about this material and, of course, want everything to be just right for our first episode, premiering this winter. Often in our studies, we use movie clips to try to illustrate a point. Recently, Nomad and I were going back and forth trying to find a good clip for the topic of redemption.

How easy should that be, right? Serendipity even did a whole study on Finding Redemption in the Movies not too very long ago. We could have used one of the movies from that study. Or… The Shawshank Redemption? Too easy. The Lion King? We use it too much. Gladiator? Again?? Those movies are great, but we needed something new. We had to toss our original clip because of language and length.

Finally I remembered a movie I loved from my teenage years: Heart and Souls. In this movie, four people are killed on a bus at the same time that Rober Downey Jr.’s character is born. They act as his guardian angels during childhood, until therapy pushes them out of his mind. But when they discover they have limited time to fix things that happened during their lives, they pop back into his life and go into high gear. Each one needs to redeem something from their time on earth in order to go on to heaven in peace.

My favorite scene is where one of the characters fulfills his dream of singing in front of an audience. They sneak through to the stage, jump on, and then the ghost starts to chicken out. “I’m not even alive and I’m sweating!” he says. In the end, he goes through with it, singing The Star-Spangled Banner in a beautiful voice, getting great applause from the audience–and BB King, whose stage he stole. When it’s time for the ghost to move on to the next life, he is satisfied and happy. Redeemed from fear of failure.

One of my favorite memories is singing a worship song in the Greek theatre at the college I attended. Very late at night, with an audience of just one friend. It’s exhilerating to sing on a stage. After years of clamming up at auditions and never getting a role even in the school play, I felt free. Successful. Just to be on stage was enough. Redeemed.

It is so good, isn’t it, that Christ has come to set us free? To redeem us from those nagging things in our past that bind us. Even Hollywood cannot escape this eternal theme; in fact, it’s one of the best ones to permeate films.

Thanks for letting me be a part of this blog community. Can’t wait to learn more about you and what’s going on in your small group and life!

A week ago my friend introduced me to this video created by Vintage 21 in Raleigh, NC. Take a look. You’ll laugh so hard you’ll almost cry. I did!

Though Jesus’ statements in this clip are ridiculously absurd, they do, in fact, reveal some fallacies that the American church has been deceived into believing. Things like…

• To be spiritual we must spend a lot of time going to church

• Thou must be very religious and speakest words like sanctification, lost and undone, and hallelujah in every conversation you havest

• We must suppress any fun that doesn’t include G-rated movies, the word fellowship, and/or a progressive supper

• You’re ashamed of the gospel if you don’t sport a Christian tee, fish emblem on your car, and/or a WWJD bracelet.

• If you’re a Christian, you must have life all figured out. Its not okay to admit weakness and allow God take you on a journey to redeem that area of your life.

What other fallacies do you think are revealed in this clip?


Just read an interesting post (click to read) by Sam Rainer about the results from a Pew Research Center that described a very interesting typology that groups states as “sticky” (those that retain a majority of residents born there), “magnetic” (those that attract a large number of people not born in the state), both, or neither. Of course there are also those states that are both sticky AND magnetic, meaning they are able to retain residents and attract people born out of state. These states would seem to be experiencing exponential growth.


It’s interesting to extrapolate this concept and examine how “sticky” and/or “magnetic” your church or small group might be. What are some of the factors that would make a church sticky and how do those factors differ from magnetic churches, if at all. How can a church be both sticky AND magnetic? Is it even possible for a small group to be both?

So I’ll ask you this question, whether you are a church leader or involved in a small group, take the poll below that asks — “Do you consider your church/group sticky, magnetic, both, or neither?”

Leave a comment below to answer the following related questions and let’s continue this conversation together:

  • Are you intentional about this or is it a function of your church/group’s internal dynamics?
  • What do you think makes churches/groups fall into one of these typographies?
  • What are the advantages of being sticky and/or magnetic
  • Do either of these facilitate in making disciples?

Love to hear your thoughts on this issue!

Some small groups take a break in the summer, others make sure they are on mission, still more groups use the summer to build deeper relationships with one another and those who don’t yet have a friendship with Jesus. No matter what your group is up to this summer you may want some ideas, things a group can do together and invite not yet followers of Jesus to join you in. Below are some options for your group during these sunny summer days and nights.

 Outdoor stuff:

  • Canoeing
  • Paintball
  • Hiking
  • White water rafting
  • Cookout
  • Homemade Ice Cream competition (ask the small group pastor to come be the judge). Each household in the small group makes a gallon of ice cream. Invite the neighbors over to eat what has been prepared.
  • Camping
  • Cornhole tournament (perfect competition for men and women together)
  • Spend a day at a theme park
  • Go to a drive-in movie together. Take lawn chairs, snacks, and coolers. Sit in front of your parked cars and enjoy a very fun evening together.
  • Get the church’s data projector and show a movie outside on someone’s white garage door. Invite the neighbors.

 Rainy Day Ideas:

            On a rainy day spontaneously call up group members and…

  •  invite group members to your place to watch a movie. Pop popcorn, have drinks, etc…
  • host a game day at the house (play cards or board games but don’t drag the Bible Trivia game out)
  • play Nintendo Wiii games (this is a grand slam home run every time)
  • play laser tag together (I promise, adults will love this too)

 Ask someone to be the photographer for the group this summer. Invite those who are not part of the group but who joined you in some of these summer experiences to the first meeting in the Fall. Ask the photographer to prepare a media presentation for the group to see. This is a great way to make the group feel more like a “family,” for pre-Christians to experience group life, and a fantastic way to remember the thrill of doing life together.

 What ideas would you add to this list?

Watching this video of our latest American Idol leading worship led me to reflect on two questions:  What greater things remain to be done in my city? And what can my small group do to see it happen?  See, I always knew watching American Idol was good for our spiritual growth! 😉

Just yesterday Lyman Coleman received an honorary doctorate, kinda. Lyman is the pioneer of small groups as we know them today. He has become a dear friend and co-dreamer. Lyman had agreed to lead sessions at NEXT, the Saddleback Small Group Conference Saturday, May 16th. One day while Lyman and I were talking he mentioned in passing that a prestigious Christian College wanted to give him an honorary doctorate but that he had passed on it because the degree was to be given him the same day he was scheduled to lead sessions in Cincinnati. I assured him we could get by without him and that receiving an honorary doctorate was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I don’t remember Lyman’s exact words he responded with but they went something like this… “That’s only paper, there are people at the conference.” He was much more focused on other people being set free than receiving a doctorate for himself. A few of the leaders at the conference decided he would receive an honorary doctorate, not from an accredited institution though. The piece of paper Lyman received in front of an audience of small group pastors and leaders reads:

Lyman Coleman

having changed the world and having set tens of thousands of people free is hereby awarded this 

Honorary Doctorate

Small Groups 

Generations are indebted to you. 

Most of us will never receive an honorary doctorate of any kind from anyone, even a “kinda” degree. But it is possible for us to lead groups that set people free.  

Thanks, Lyman for teaching so many of us what it means to care for people like Jesus does!

I check in with as many small group blogs as time will allow. Sometimes an idea shows up that is so simple and so amazing I have to share it. Check out this blog from The Community Channel hosted by the Director of Group Life at Oakbrook Community Church.

“If a group doesn’t help each other connect it will end quickly.

If a group doesn’t help each other change, it will end within a year.

If a group fails to become mission minded it might last a long time but eventually it will become very dissatisfying.”

Bill Search from his book ‘Simple Small Groups’

I can relate to the above quote by Bill Search.  Been there and done that.  In recent months, I have been thinking a lot about the missional component of small groups because in most cases it seems to be the part of group life that gets most easily neglected.  Problem is, to not prioritize ‘mission’ in group life is to disregard who and what we believe in.  The body of believers has been called to serve each other and to serve others.  There is no getting around it.

So here is an idea for you.  Not sure who came up with the idea but I think it has tons of potential.  We are looking at potentially inviting all the men of our church to be a part of what we are calling a ‘Power of 10′ group.  Here is a brief summary of the idea:  10 people giving $10 to meet a need.  Simple as that.  The rest is up to you to figure out.  Actually, the rest is up to the Holy Spirit to figure out and lead you to do.

My group is just getting started but let me share some initial takeaways.  Our group gives $10/week so between the 10 of us that is $100/week.  We pray for opportunities to serve with the resources that are available.  You see where this is going?  We grow spiritually as we lean into God and rely on Him to lead us.  We grow relationally as we marry our resources together and serve needs that arise.  We are used by God to serve those in need and draw them closer to Him.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

It’s been so life giving to see how God is stirring in each of my group members.  They are excited about the adventure that lies ahead.  Over the next 2 years, our group will contribute over $10000 to this little journey.  We have talked about saving $3000 of it to send with our Haiti teams and using the rest in our community however God sees fit.  The opportunities are endless, that is what makes it so exciting.

Groups that last are groups that figure out a way to inspire every member of the group to begin doing exactly what it is that they feel they have been put on this planet to do.  The ‘Power of 10′ is just one way to harness the potential of 10 surrendered bodies and to let God do the rest.

Thanks for this one!!!


Just confirmed Rick, our very own Small Groupologist, will be “duking it out” with David Francis, The Sunday School Guy at LifeWay in a no-holds-barred, fun-filled eLearning event. This will be a LIVE online training opportunity provided at NO CHARGE! The date has been set for Tuesday, May 19th and should not only be a lot of fun to watch, but also extremely informative.

If you’ve ever had to defend small groups over Sunday School, wanted to get a deeper understand of how these two ministry models function, or how these two strategies can work together to grow churches, you’ll want to view this FREE training opportunity.

CLICK to register!!

Catch a sneak peak at the brawl below…

Vodpod videos no longer available.
If you have a question you would like answered by Rick or David, submit here by May 18th and be sure to register for this FREE eLearning event live on May 19th.