Training


Sleeping Giant by Kenny Luck. Releases May 1.

Springtime is here! Unofficially of course since we have a couple of weeks before the equinox announces the official beginning of this time of year. LifeWay Small Groups has been very busy over the last few months producing some of the most dynamic and transformational resources we’ve released. Gospel Revolution, Stolen, Group Insights, and Rooms are all small-group Bible studies we that we encourage you to check out.

We’ve also been working to deliver an entire new strategy for men’s ministry for your church. It’s no secret that where men’s ministry is concerned, we’ve been in crisis mode for some time. In May we are releasing Sleeping Giant by Kenny Luck. This “men’s ministry in a box” provides everything a church needs to launch a men’s ministry or provide a greater, more effective, context for what you are already doing. We’ll post more on this later, but this is the first men’s ministry model that puts men on an intentional spiritual path that culminates with an “activated” man on mission for God and your church’s vision. Kenny’s model is not only church-tested over the last decade, but works for any size church. Nor does this approach require you to add staff or even additional ministry layers. The intent here is to wake the sleeping giant in your church. For more information click here.

And I’m pleased to announce that former editor of smallgroups.com and current LifeWay editor Sam O’Neal will be posting as a guest blogger every Thursday until the release of his new book The Field Guide for Small Group Leaders. Sam plans to dive into various principles of small group leadership with greater detail, but the book addresses several key for leading transformational group experiences, including:

•    How learning styles impact both group leaders and group members
•    How to craft discussion questions that actually spark discussion
•    The art of leading a group discussion
•    What to do when things don’t go as planned

Be sure to look for Sam’s posts beginning March 8. I have had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with him over the last few months and can say with certainty that you’re  not going to want to miss what he has to say. (Unless you’ve got some time on your hands, just stay away from topics like the Chicago Bears or NFC North.) And stay tuned for more on Sleeping Giant by Kenny Luck as well. We need to rally the men of our culture with a fresh new message for greater godliness and more effective disciples.

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I’m really excited that we will be hosting The Summit: A Convergence of Small Group Experts.  This an event that might be the first time in history these amazing small group leaders have been on the same stage!!  To make it even better, it’s online so you can participate no matter where you live and it’s FREE.  Our very own Rick Howerton will be moderating this Town Hall styled forum and discussing the history, trends, and future of small group ministry.  We are taking questions so you will have a chance to present any issue you are dealing with to the architects of the modern small group movement and hear them respond and provide solutions they’ve seen work in churches all over the world.

The speakers are 9 of today’s most well-known leaders in small group ministry and the next generation’s rising stars – Lyman Coleman Bill Donahue, Steve Gladen, Randall Neighbour, Carl George, Bill Search, Reid Smith, Greg Bowman, and Eddie Mosley

Be sure to register and plan on taking part in this amazing experience.  If you are a ministry leader, forward the information to all your group members so they can get answers to some of their most pressing questions too!

It’s interesting to me that the Greek word for Paul’s drawn out teaching in Ephesus (Acts 20:7) is where we get our word for “dialogue,” not monologue. It seems that dialogues were and still are very effective for gaining understanding of God’s intentions and for spiritual formation.

For those of us with the gift of teaching or leadership being involved in a conversational Bible study is a tough thing because we are monologuers not dialoguers. A few suggestions for all of us:

  • Give your energy to listening as much as you do thinking about what you’d like to say when the listening is done.
  • Before speaking ask yourself this question, “Will my comment end the discussion?” For those who are not as well versed in the Bible as you, their being involved in the conversation is vital to his/her spiritual growth. If you voice the bottom line the conversation may end long before others get to process, speak, and experience growth.
  • Be careful to keep your comments short. You may have a monologue to share but the rest of the group came to experience a dialogue.
  • Don’t remain completely silent or the group will miss some very important input from you, simply remember that you are one player in the orchestra, not a one man band or the conductor of the band.

Statistics show that (from the Academic Skills Center, “Active Study,” Dartnouth College):

  1. People remember about 20 % of what they hear.
  2. People remember about 50 % of what they see.
  3. People remember about 70% of what they say themselves.

Most of the information stated here is from The Rabbit and the Elephant by Tony Dale, Felicity Dale, and George Barna.

I love the crazy ministry God is allowing me to do. I love my wife and dog too, I’m just don’t see them much. August is going to be especially exciting as I’ll be at Collegiate Week at Ridgecrest, North Carolina then on to Layton, Utah for EQUIP 2009 followed by a stop in Columbus, Ohio for the Connect3 conference, then will jump a plane to Texas for the 2009 Church Leadership Conference and then a few days later I’ll be headed to Chattanooga, Tennessee to speak at Silverdale Baptist church and will hang out with the staff the next morning and then without even thinking about it (If I thought about it I’d probably wanna take a train back home just to see what the place looks like) I’m off to Gainesville, Georgia to lead small group sessions and just two days after that I’m on to Memphis, Tennessee and then two days after that will lead sessions at the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Super Saturday in Elizabethtown, Kentucky and on the 30th I’ll land in Bowling Green, Kentucky where I’ll preach on Sunday morning at Christ Fellowship Church then stick around to do a small group training session for the small group leaders in Bowling Green.

I know what you’re thinking… That’s one long run on sentence. Well, my life sometimes seems to be just one exciting run-on sentence and I love it!

I’d be honored to lead training or speak about small groups for you or your church. Just call me at 615-251-5862 if you’re interested. We’ve gotta see the world transformed through groups that make Jesus the centerpiece of their experience and that allow the Holy Spirit to be their teacher.

Last fall at the Catalyst Conference, I caught up with Stewart McWilliams from Fellowship of the Rockies in Colorado Springs where we talked about Catalyst, the book “Tribes” by Seth Godin, and Serendipity Small Group Workshops. Stewart had recently hosted a Serendipity Small Group Workshop with Rick Howerton for his small group leaders as well as other ministry and group leaders from area churches. It was a great success for everyone in attendance both as a learning event and as a small group networking opportunity.

If your church would be interested in developing your group leaders by hosting a Serendipity Small Group Workshop contact Rick (Rick.Howerton@lifeway.com or 615.251.5862). You can also view our calendar to see if a workshop will be in your area for your group leaders to attend

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If the masses are going to be part of your small group ministry the Senior Pastor is vital. There are some critical things the Senior Pastor can do for the ministry that no one else can. A few of those are:

 

 

 

  • Cast vision for the small group ministry (at least every thirty days) from the pulpit.
  • At every opportunity remind decision-making church leaders (elders, deacons, finance team, trustees, etc…) how important this ministry is to the church.
  • Tell stories of lives changed through the small group via video, testimonies, or as sermon illustrations.
  • Encourage church members to join a small group.
  • Come to small group events and training opportunities, stay for a few minutes, and thank the leaders for all they are doing and tell how much it means to the accomplishment of the church’s mission.
  • Be a sounding board and friend to the person spearheading the small group ministry.
  • Make small groups one of the expectations of church membership.
  • If necessary, let the church know of the need for small group leaders and apprentices and who to talk to to become a leader or apprentice.
  • Go to bat during the budgeting process asking for money for the training of leaders, the nurture of leaders, and the resources leaders need.
  • Be in a group (or lead one) and talk about it.

 

 

 

 

Our small group is taking a break this summer. I’m spending some time re-reading some books that have greatly affected my own small group leadership. This week I am diving headlong into a book every small group pastor/leader should read, Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry by Gareth Weldon Icenogle. I came upon the following paragraph. I’m using these 161 words to evaluate my own small group leadership. I came up lacking but now know some areas that need serious attention.

 “Small group leadership is about becoming the whole person God wants each person to be. It is about becoming vulnerable to help others become more open, to help others change for the better, to hold others in the group accountable to improve their lives and lifestyles. Small group leadership is about the freedom to show emotion and share feelings; it is about drawing close to others in the group. Small group leadership is about developing and nurturing the freedom to see, touch and embrace. Small group leadership is about helping the group resolve their conflicts. It is about calling the group back into covenant relationship with God. Small group leadership is about building a stronger sense of family in the midst of broken relationships. It is about giving up control and about giving away resources. Small group leadership is about creating a home for others, empowering others to live their own lives, and equipping them to go away and help others.”

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