Tag Archives: small groups

Growing Spiritually

If you want to grow deeper in your Christian faith I recommend the following.
1. Read big chunks of the bible. Read the entire bible for yourself several times. It will take several times through to really begin to put it all together and see the big picture well- but it will be worth it.
2. Memorize some scripture verses. Be strict about it (best said with a German accent- roll the “r” on “strict”). Get it exactly right, word for word. This will force you to really know the verse.
3. Pray all the time. That is, pray every time you think about it. Have an attitude of prayer.
4. Pray systematically. Pray for specific Continue reading

Why Men Struggle with Friendship

God made us for relationships. Yet many men- many men- will find meaningful friendships hard to build and sustain. We end up isolated and miss the benefits of close relationships with other men. If that isn’t you, great. But for many men, friendships are like doing a rubiks cube- challenging, intimidating and a little unnatural.
Let me mention three reasons for our difficulty in building lasting friendships.
1. We tend to stay superficial. Continue reading

Small Groups or Bust! 3 Reasons Small Groups Matter in Church Life

   I make a big deal out of small groups (we call our Sunday School classes LIFE groups) at FBC O’Fallon, IL.  Why would I even care since I’m not preaching in those classes?  (Insert your own sermon joke punch line.)  Here are 3 important reasons why Christians should be in a small group in their church. 

1.  For Connection.  People are like legos- made for connection.  Small groups allow people to get connected on more personal levels.  You need that connection- even you computer nerds who are socially awkward!  And, more importantly, other people need you.  Small groups allow us to know each other’s names and favorite ice cream flavors.

2.  For Information.  I don’t let people ask questions during the sermon.  I probably wouldn’t know the answer anyway!  But discussions can happen in small groups.  We can sharpen each other and think together.  It is a great way to learn and study and grow.  Attend a small group bible study long enough and you will probably know much more about the bible than you do now.  And that is a good thing.

3.  For inspiration.  Okay, I can’t relate to the pastor.  He’s kind of weird anyway.  But I can sure relate to that guy in the class who is struggling to live out his faith in a hostile work environment.  I can relate to the lady who wants to shine the light of Christ in her life even though she has a suspicious spot on the x-ray.  Those people inspire me- and I hope I can inspire them! 

   I love small groups enough that Vickie and I are going to teach a LIFE group on Saturday nights for the 7 weeks  our church goes through the “Immersed: 40 Days to a Deeper Faith” study beginning this weekend- even though I already preach my sermon 4 times each weekend. 

   Small groups or bust!

 

When Shallow Christianity Doesn’t Satisfy

   I’m all for people being babies- when they are actually babies!  But it isn’t as attractive when big boys act like babies. 

   I’m all for Christians being immature.  But if they are still immature after years of faith we have a problem.

   The example I use is the kiddie pool and the high dive.  Permit a brief quote from the introduction of my devotional book “Immersed: 40 Days to a Deeper Faith”. 

   “I still remember my first time jumping off the high dive.

   In the summertime I spent a lot of afternoons at the community pool in my small towns.  Most of my time was spent in the shallow end, splashing and playing with my bothers and friends.  I watched other kids jumping off the diving boards at the deep end of the pool.  It seemed fun and exciting, but too scary for me.

   As the summer progressed, I thought more and more about what it would be like to overcome my fears and worries and plunge into the deep, blue water of the deep end.  I even walked by that area of the pool a few times to calculate the possibilities.  The deep water was so inviting, yet I was so frightened to plunge in…”

  Okay, you can get the book to read the rest.  But suffice it to say that God made us to swim in the deep water of faith.

   Shallow Christianity will never fully satisfy because we long for the deeper faith of spiritual growth.  We need the meat instead of the milk.  We want the diving board instead of the kiddie pool.

   Come on in.  The water is fine!

  

Whatever Happened to Sunday School?

I love Sunday School.  There, I said it out loud.

When I became a pastor 30 years ago (What? 30 years have gone by? But I am so young!)  the question was asked differently.  You know, the question we asked each other when we pastors got together-  “How was your attendance?”  We used to ask, 30 years ago, about how many were in Sunday School. 

30 years later, when we announce our attendance, we answer with our worship attendance.  There is nothing wrong, of course, with tracking our worship attendance.  It is worth noting, however, that Sunday School has been de-emphasized in many churches in this generation. 

I am an unashamed Sunday School junkie.  We emphasize Sunday School in our church-though we have jazzed up the name to “Life Groups”.  Never does a week go by that I don’t mention something about Life Groups.

Sunday School, or however small groups are done, is such a vital part of a healthy church.  I love worship.  It is exciting and important and great.  But let’s not lose sight of the importance of the personal, small group aspect of church life. It is a great place to learn and to experience life together.  Churches who emphasize small groups in addition to worship are the stronger for it.

The Christian life is best experienced together.  I encourage you to get in a Sunday School class or, if you attend FBC O’Fallon, IL, a Life Group. 

Sunday School is worth emphasizing again.