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Archive for August, 2011

Welcome!

Thank you for taking the time to check out 1 Groups.

What are 1 Groups? 1 Groups, the small group ministry of the South Plains Church of Christ, are our name for small groups of individuals who meet together regularly to grow, serve, connect, and share community with one another. Groups meet in homes throughout the Lubbock and surrounding area, usually for an hour or two on Sunday evenings.

Groups are made up of all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. Older couples with no children at home, young families with newborns, singles, university students… no matter what your age or background, there is a group for you. In fact, you will find that because of our desire to see groups build relationships with older and younger individuals, you will not have to search for that “perfect” group.

1 Groups center around the new vision of the South Plains Church of Christ. It is our hope that every individual at South Plains will be involved in a relationship with one older and one younger individual. In addition, we want everyone to be a part of a group, to be involved in ministry, to have a home bible study in their home, to reach out to a neighbor, and to give their first fruits. We draw it out like this:

So what’s the next step? If you want to be a part of a 1 Group, contact us at southplains1groups@gmail.com and let us know. Someone will get in touch with you and we will find a place for you to be a part.

Again, thanks for your interest and we look forward to visiting more with you soon!

Rob

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Coming Soon…

Tomorrow is an exciting day at South Plains. I hope you are planning to be a part!

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As you think about your group meetings this fall, what fellowship ideas have you thought about? Groups provide an excellent opportunity for a small group of individuals to enjoy a time of fun together in a setting outside of what we might normally consider “group time.” The relationships that already exist among group members only serve to help make that time of fellowship even more enjoyable.

Times of fellowship can also be used to serve others: individuals in the group, other members of the congregation, or even neighbors or people we do not know. Again, the pre-existing relationship people have with one another within a group helps set up a great base from which to serve others.

Josh Hunt wrote an article recently entitled “52 Ideas for Fellowship in You Small Group.”  (You can find it here on churchleaders.com.) Check out the various ideas he has and think about which ones would work well in your own group?

Ones that seemed particularly applicable to me were:

#3 – Go to a baseball game.
This could be especially beneficial if the game you went to (baseball, football, basketball, etc.) was the game of one of the young people in your group.

#29 – Have a theme party and dress accordingly.
OK, I admit we have never done this, per say, but we have done food themes and dressed to match the theme. It may sound silly, but it is really a lot of fun.

#36 – Have an international dinner with a missionary.
What a great way to open the door for stories about different cultures.

#41 – Serve as counselors or sponsors at a youth activity.
Our vacation this past year was spent at summer camp with several other families from our group.

#58 – Go on a prayer walk.
A group prayer walk is a great way to see your neighborhood and be reminded of the needs that exist right around you.

So what stood out on the list to you?

And what would you add?

Rob

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Our 1 Group leaders are going through a challenging time. We are at that “in between” stage, where leaders are committing to either continue to lead a group, or new leaders are coming on board and agreeing to begin leading. The first official group meeting is not for another month, but in the excitement of a new group year, leaders are already thinking about who will be in their group … and finding more uncertainty than answers.

This year, we are asking 1 Groups to focus on a more intergenerational range of members. Leaders therefore have to think not just of those individuals who are most similar to their age/Bible class preference/station in life/way of thinking. They now have to think “outside their box,” so to speak.

Asking someone who differs from you – in personality, socio-economical background, station in life, theology, etc. – to be a part of your group goes against what is most comfortable and in some ways, most logical. For whatever difficulty there may be in finding someone that “fits” our group, that difficulty is exponentially increased when we have to find someone who is different, but still fits.

Let me offer a couple of thoughts on finding the right group member.

First, you know this, but I am still going to say it: there is no perfect group member. Some of the best relationships I have had with fellow group members have been with the ones who I would have least expected such positive results. And the reverse has been true. Some who have been the best “fit” have also produced the most anguish for me as a group leader.

Also remember that group members who may seem the least compatible provide the most opportunity for growth – yours, not theirs. The difference between who you think a group member needs to be and who they really are may simply be a reflection of your own distance from who God is calling you to be.

One day I hope to write a post entitled “How Relationships Killed Small Groups,” but until I do, let me present my working hypothesis. In our attempt to build better relationships (good thing) in the name of Christian community (also a good thing), we have overlooked (bad thing) the power of God to live in and strengthen our connection with other people (great thing). The reality is: most of us would have found something to hate about one another a long time ago if God were not a part of defining how we love one another. If he could love the sinners and tax-collectors, then perhaps we need to be a little more lenient on those we define as falling short of the “perfect fit.”

So, as you look for group members, relax. The best group member may be the next person who accepts your invitation to attend group, or the family who appears to have no connections, or perhaps even the individual you would consider most unlike you and your entire group. Invite them anyway – they just might be the perfect fit!

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Today a tweet by Steve Gladen, Pastor of the Small Group Community at Saddleback Church in Orange, California caught my eye:

Your job as the leader of the group is to continually cast vision, what do you want to see happen?

My assumption is that “casting vision” happens throughout all of leading and at times one sees the vision, but not the casting of said vision. Every now and then, however, perhaps it is appropriate to directly answer Steve’s question.

So I will.

I want to see 1 Groups…

…change the lives of the individuals who commit to being a part of those groups – both leaders and group members.

…reach out to people who have very few other points of contact with any church body.

… become the “go to” place for community for people at South Plains.

…become a place where young and old meet together, share lives with one another, and are mutually enriched as a result of that interaction.

…become groups of people who recognize that sometimes ministry happens better in groups than as individuals.

…to be known throughout Lubbock as a place where lives are changed and people become better followers of Jesus.

How about you? What do you want to see?

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M. Scott Boren is a pastor and author who focuses on the idea of churches being “missional.” (More about Scott can be found here.) Missional is one of those words that is often used and while everyone seems to know how or when to use it, no one can quite put their finger on what it means exactly.

A definition offered by Reggie McNeal is: “The missional church is God’s people partnering with him in his redemptive mission in the world.” (Find out more in Reggie’s own words here.) More than a church that focuses on missions (think foreign missionaries) or one that seeks the lost (think door knocking campaigns or the like), it is a church that seeks to actively engage a lost world, rather than hoping that world might stumble into one of our Sunday morning times of worship. It is not just looking outward, but also realizing that everything the church does centers around a redemptive mission. As Erwin McManus has said: We often think the church is here for us. We ARE the church and we are here for the world.

In a recent post on missional prayer (I recommend his post – it can be found here), Scott says something which struck me:

We must cultivate friendships with people in our neighborhoods so that they can see into our lives and view our communion with God. We don’t do this with the intent of “winning” them to something. We do this because we are a people of love and we want to share life with them.

If we have cultivated our relationship with God in such a way that what we show those around us is the overflow of that communion (Scott leads off with this idea), it does us little good if we have not allowed others to see that communion. I have often wondered why people who have a deep passion for God seem to have such a negligible impact on those around them. Perhaps the only people who see them commune with God are those they join with in worship on a Sunday morning.

There are some powerful implications for small groups here.

If we intend to be groups that are actively seeking out neighbors, we must first ensure we have developed the type of relationships that allow neighbors in to see our overflow of communion with God. We may need to ditch “group time” to engage in a little “neighbor time.”

When we think of “outreach” to our neighbors, perhaps we need to think less of big impact outreach events, and instead spend time doing simple acts of love for those around us. My guess is that you and your group can come up with a dozen or so ideas in a matter of minutes. Go ahead and act on those!

If we intend to take seriously the call to minister to those who are both older and younger (and I think this applies to both neighbors and those who are a part of our congregation), we must understand that our group time may look different than you or I might want it to look. What if our lesson time was one that would fit better in Journeyland than in an adult class? It would seem that an attempt to show the overflow of our communion with God must be communicated in a manner consistent with those whom we have developed a relationship.

If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to read Scott’s post. What ways can you think of to apply both his ideas on prayer and his ideas of being missional to the life of your group?

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Yesterday, I reflected on one of our high school students baptizing a young man who had been in his cabin at summer camp. This, I thought, is what being in the lives of younger and older people looks like. This is what I hope happens in our small group ministry as we transition to groups made up of older and younger people ministering to and with one another.

It did not take long for that hope to be realized. Sunday I also got to witness my son Luke preach his first “sermon.” (It was about 3 minutes long, so sermonette may be a better description!) He was poised and calm. He did not seem at all nervous or uptight. I thought he did a great job and plenty of people told him the same. He was thankful, but never mentioned those comments to me.

This evening, after having to work late, the family came to my work to get me so we could head out to supper. I met the kids on the sidewalk as they were headed into my building. Here were the very first words Luke said to me:

“Dad, guess what happened today,” obviously excited and wanting to ensure I recognized the importance of this unknown event.

“What happened?”

“I got a phone call. Guess who it was that called me.”

School starts in a couple of weeks, so I was thinking along the lines of his new teacher or perhaps one of his classmates sharing some good news about the upcoming year. Luke also helps as a water boy for his high school’s football team and practices started today. He was there, so maybe a coach was following up with him about practice.

“I don’t know, who?” I replied.

“Caleb. He just called to tell me I had done a great job on my sermon. Isn’t that cool?!”

He was beaming. The fact that a high school student in our small group took the time to call him was the most important thing that happened today.

More important than his grandparents being in town.

More important than his cousin being in town.

More important that getting to help with football practice on the first day of two-a-days.

More important than a new coach thinking he was one of the players who had yet to suit up for practice.

Most important for him was that a high-school student from our small group took the time to call and say “Good job.”

Who is a person in your group – or even someone outside your group – that it would mean the world to if you would call and encourage? Why don’t you go ahead and give them a call. It’s time well spent. I promise you!

And Caleb – thanks for the call. It not only meant a lot to him, but also meant a lot to his mom and dad! You are doing a great job being a good Christian example to these young people. Keep it up!

Rob

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