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Why Home Friendship Groups? - Community
By: James Smith
There are two essential elements of community. 1) interpersonal commitments and 2) a sense of belonging. True community needs both of these elements in operation. Without interpersonal commitments, a sense of belonging would soon be lost as a sense of belonging is derived from and is a result of the interpersonal commitments. Did I loose you there? Ok, let me break it down.
Bob joins a new church. He is warmly welcomed. He soon receives salvation. Bob likes the people and enjoys what he feels in the church. However, as time goes on, Bob soon realizes that since his only real commitment is to come to church, worship and give in the offerings, his commitment level is not very deep. In fact, if Bob only develops a deep relationship with the pastor there, then the Pastor is Bob’s only real reason for staying there. What happens however, when Bob gets upset at the pastor? What happens if the pastor resigns? You and I know what happens, Bob soon leaves. However, what would happen if Bob were was interconnected in a deep level of community or fellowship with 10-12 other people within the church? (Small Group) What if it were possible that Bob could get upset with the Pastor, yet his love for and interconnectedness with these other 10-12 were so deep that he would stay?
Relationships are powerful. A good relationship will build a person up and a bad relationship has the potential to destroy someone. We often fail to realize the value of relationships within the church. We exhaust ourselves with evangelistic efforts and get so excited over the sudden growth or influx of visitors. Yet we then often fail to get those new people into bonding relationships within the church and soon lose them. What we end up with is a person who is easily offended and will have nothing or nobody to stand in their way of an exodus.
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Let’s look at some real examples of effective preaching. Our text will be from Acts 2 where Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, and from Acts 3 where the lame man was healed while they were on their way to the temple. In both of these instances Peter ministered in such a way that thousands were saved. I think we can learn a lot from Peter (Acts 2:14-38 & 3:12-26).
Effective preachers must study. As you look at these two messages from Peter, you will see that he had studied the word. In both instances he was suddenly given the opportunity to preach, and he was “instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). There is no shortcut to “studying to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
When I first started preaching I would minister on a different book of the bible every service – and we had three services each week! I used at least seven commentaries on each book. After researching them thoroughly, I would then seek the Lord as to how He wanted me to present the message and what kind of application He wanted for His people.
This took a lot of time and effort, but it was well worth it. It placed ample research under my belt to draw upon later when I wouldn’t have as much time. Taking shortcuts to in depth study will rob you of the rich jewels that the Lord desires to give you from His word and Spirit.
Effective preachers must memorize the Word. There is nothing more powerful than the Word of God. Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, quoted large and obscure passages of scripture. He didn’t pull out a scroll and start looking things up, he knew them by heart. We have the promise that His word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:10-11). It is sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The word will do more in the hearts of people than I ever can. When I was first saved I made up my mind that I wanted to give people God’s answer to the problems of life and not only what I thought. My opinion is not worth much, but what God has to say is of eternal value.
Nothing has helped me in my preaching and teaching more than the memorization of scripture. Even if people have a hard time taking it all in, it will go on to work in their lives for years to come. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever he has said unto us” (John 14:26). His promise is that He will bring the appropriate scripture to us when it is needed the most. It was said of Jesus that when He was in a house in Capernaum, and there was so many people crowding into the house that there was no longer any room, that “He preached the word unto them” (Mark 2:2). It’s the word that makes our ministry truly effective as it did Jesus’.[ read more...]
Fundamental principles underlie the thinking and conduct of all true leaders, and these principles are even sharply defined for leaders within the kingdom of God. From time to time those whom the Lord has chosen for leadership need to examine themselves in the mirror of thought- provoking maxims. These proverbs are designed to help Christian leaders move forward in administrative excellence.
Responsible leaders do not make irresponsible statements.
A godly leader speaks out of the presence of God.
A humble leader never makes light of eternal truths, but esteems them with reverence.
A wise leader resolves conflicts peacefully, not forcefully.
An enduring leader withstands insult without anger.
A wholesome leader is characterized by tolerance, which saves him from hasty decisions in crisis, and retaliations in the face of contrariness.
The good leader attempts to make friends, not enemies.
Dealing harshly with opponents causes more aggravation and hostility. A polite leader uses gentleness and kindness.[ read more...]
It would be foolish, or at best naive, for any of us to believe or even infer that what works for others will work for you as well. The Vision process, or Visioneering, is included in that statement. There is no cookie-cutter formula that works and produces for everyone. However, there is a common development route, or process, that can be modified to suit your environment, and it will work for everyone if allowed to. There are questions to ponder and ask at the inception of the Visioneering process.
Why is this important? It is important because every leader, church, or organization is not ready to undertake a successful Visioneering process. Before you waste your time and that of others you need to validate that this is the right thing for you to do.
To do this you will have to determine some things. Every church or business has its own unique and distinguishing traits and characteristics, including but not limited to:
· The number people and talents it has available
· The unity it either has or doesn’t have
· The spiritual maturity and understanding level of the people
· The level of commitment to excellence and continuous improvement
· The work ethic
· The corporate attitude
· Financial and resource strengths and/or weaknesses
What are yours? Write them down clearly and concisely. Do the necessary research. Thoroughness and honesty are absolutely essential.
Next, of course there are many other ingredients that must be considered as well, including but not limited to:
· The connection between the leader and the people
· The level of trust and confidence in leadership
· The size and commitment to and understanding of teamwork
· The organizational structure
· Area demographics (white or blue collar/wealthy or welfare/educated or non-educated/innovative or non-innovative/adaptability to change or resistance to any change, multicultural blend and ethnicity traits/ and etc.)
· The culture of the area and of the church
Once again, write these down clearly and concisely as well. Do the necessary research. Thoroughness and honesty are absolutely essential.[ read more...]
Children’s activities books often have these little exercises. They will display one picture with many items and characters, and when you turn the page, you see a very similar picture which almost looks identical. To the casual glance you would think that nothing is different about the two pictures. However the small instructions at the top of the second picture has a question which let’s you know immediately that even though these two pictures may look the same, they are not. The instructions say, “What’s different about these two pictures?” You then are given opportunity to find and list the items that are missing from the second picture that are evident in the first one.
My younger brother is very successful in law enforcement. I am amazed at his ability to pay attention to the slightest details. He has the ability to walk into a situation and tell you not what is present, but what is not present. What’s missing is often the clue that leads to a case being solved. Myself, I would probably end up exhausting myself studying the clues and items that were left at the scene of a crime rather than understanding what is different or missing from the scene.
Here is the problem many churches in our present day have. There is something missing and we haven’t figured out what it is yet. We are studying what is in front of us, but we can’t figure out why we are not having the kind of revival we know our Lord wants us to have.
We see people’s lack of involvement. We see the lack of dedication to the House of God. We know that the growth of our congregations are not keeping up with the population growth of our communities. People come to church with an “Entertain Me” attitude that lacks the fundamental hunger that is needful in a revival church.
We want to identify with the biblical New Testament church but the picture that was the Original Church is in many ways very different than the picture that is the modern day church.[ read more...]
One of the biggest problems in many of our churches is a lack of leadership. Where do you find people who have leadership abilities?
"You don't have to bring in a hireling to find leadership in your church…the person you are looking for might be closer than you think."
People who have displayed faithfulness in small things. He might be the usher who is constantly faithful to the duties of ushering. Don't leave that person doing the same thing for 30 years because they do it so well. Move them into areas of leadership.
Look for people who worship well and who love their pastor. You might think they have no leadership ability, and they may not. But their love for God and their Pastor will give them the zeal they will need to learn how to lead from you.[ read more...]
If your ministry is only one of your jobs, here are 12 tips to make the road a little smother.
In light of the fact that 50 percent of all North American churches have 75 people or fewer, many pastors do not receive full salary from the church they serve. This forces them to consider options such as finding other employment on the side or having a spouse work to help make ends meet.
- Guard your attitudes. Sometimes it is hard for those “called into the ministry” to accept the fact that they may have to work “secular” jobs at times. These are understandable feelings, but will lead to bitterness of heart and cripple our ministries unless we overcome them.
- Look primarily to God. It is easy to become resentful toward people if we look to them as our sources. God is our ultimate employer and provider, not the church.
- Beware of get- rich-quick schemes. A pastor desperate for additional sources of income may be vulnerable to the allure of multilevel marketing and other “easy money” systems.
- Assess the hidden costs of having a spouse that works. After the cost of travel, food on the road, child care, house cleaning etc, you may find that it is cheaper for them to stay home. A job or career is often times more of an outlet or escape. Check all the motives and the real cost involved.
- Make the most of the situation while you’re at it. Working a secular job can actually have many overlooked benefits other than just additional income: contact with unchurched people and experience with realities of work environments.
- Define your ministry. Bi-vocational pastors should beware of trying to have a “full- service” ministry. You need definite limits and boundaries. You cannot do everything, so you must have a clear focus for what you will handle.
It’s not unusual to feel stuck, trapped, and unable to move from a situation you feel is stifling. Actually, it’s part of life and growth. But, getting “stuck in” and “growing through” situations are different. Here are ten ways to shift from one to the other:
- Step back and ask yourself what’s really going on. When you’re caught up in the stuff of everyday life, it’s easy to lose objectivity. It’s good to set aside a little time each day to challenge the obviousness of what seems to be going on. Is there a lesson to be learned that you are missing? Might that setback really be a step forward? Will things really turn out as badly as you think they will?
- Consider whether what’s happening has happened before. Is this a unique situation or is it just another example, in different garb, of an issue you’ve failed to confront before? If it’s the latter, maybe now’s the time to solve it and move on.
- Assume that present events and circumstances may be less of a “problem” than parts of a larger “process.” There’s a fair case to be made for the notion that, in this life, all is process rather than result. In other words, what this life is really about is growth and learning. Viewed in this light, where you’re heading is not as important as how you choose to get there. (For those who are strongly goal-oriented, this may be tough to swallow.)
- Ask yourself what you can do next. It’s the small steps that lead to successful journeys. Don’t get sucked in by the suggestion that you’ve got to solve it all today.
- Do something – anything! When you’re stuck, taking any step puts you in a different place and helps change your perspective, even if it’s a wrong move! And, doing something could be a conscious decision to do absolutely nothing!
What are Icebreakers?
As the name implies, an icebreaker session is designed to "break the ice" at an event or meeting. It is a technique that is best used with people who do not yet know one another very well. Ice breakers ease people through those uncomfortable moments that come with getting to know strangers.
Most people know us by our profession. We are known as a teacher, carpenter, doctor, housewife, etc. Some may know us from church, but they don't really know us in a meaningful way. Whether your group has known each other a long time, or has just recently gotten together, icebreaker sessions allow a group to get to know one another more intimately. A great icebreaker stirs us to talk about our hobbies, personal experiences or even our family backgrounds. A group that’s more in tune with each other makes better decisions. They feel a sense of trust and are able to work together more productively[ read more...]