Could your next curriculum be a book study?

Some pros and cons to to choosing this model

Recently we learned that one of our small groups is using a book rather than a pre-formatted 6-8 week study. The leader, Becky Hess, is finding it to be a refreshing change of pace and has offered us some observations about how it is going.

The group is looking at this as a kind of "book club" experience. To carry this off well, all the members of the group need to own the idea and commit to being actively involved in the discussion planning and of course in the discussion itself.

The book that they are currently using is The Promise, by Robert Morgan (dealing with Romans 8:28). When members received their books, everyone agreed to read the first chapter and come to the next meeting with one or two questions from the material to ask others in the group. Becky is finding this a great model, as long as the group members follow through on getting their reading done and bringing their questions. It hasn't always worked out that way. When the members don't prep, discussion can be very limited. However this is providing a good coaching opportunity for Becky to help the group members see how important each of them is to the success of the experience.  The side benefit: It is providing experience to everyone in leading a study as they do the reading and preparation before the meeting.

Specifically, Becky has asked the group members to come up with one of these options to bring to their meeting:

  • A question that they were asking themselves about the reading.
  • A question from their understanding of the material.
  • An experience from the past or present in their own lives that ties into the material in the chapter.

Becky is enjoying this experience, and is communicating between meetings via text to coach the group members, which is helping build consistency and enthusiasm for the study.

Our take on this concept is that, as a leader, you provide structure for your meeting time. If  you’ve chosen a book that doesn’t support your structure, this can be a challenge for you.  It’s always best to use professional curriculum that have open ended questions.  However, if you are brave enough to chose a book study, you will need to figure out the structure and routines that curriculum typically provides for you. Becky has done this well, putting the onus on the group to share the responsibility. The success of the group meetings doesn’t all stand or fall on her because everyone has a part of it.  

We looked up this concept to get some outside opinions on how it works. Here's an excerpt from a 2012 article by Sam O'Neal from Smallgroups.com about using a book instead of curriculum for your group.

Many small groups prefer to interact with a well-known book instead of using shorter curriculum guides. These are usually the "cream of the crop" from Christian prose, including titles such as The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman or Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Some groups enjoy digging into controversial works—The Shack by William P. Young would be a good example. Many of these books are now accompanied by journals or workbooks designed for use in a small group.

There are several advantages to this approach. For one thing, books that have weathered the test of time usually contain genuinely life-changing material. They are great books, pure and simple, and they can have a deep impact on small-group participants. These kinds of studies are also a nice break from the "same old, same old" feel of many curriculum guides. They offer something new and a little more exciting.

The danger of taking this approach is that it can be hard to pair these books with an in-depth study of Scripture. The material in the book usually takes precedence over God's Word. That's okay for a six to eight week break every now and again, but it becomes less appealing if a group wants to study these kinds of books most of the time. At some point, things transition from a small group to a book club.

Another disadvantage of this approach is that it can be quite expensive, especially if you are asking group members to purchase both the original book and a group-based study guide.


from An Overview of Small Group Material

i am n - From Voice of the Martyrs

At least two McLane small groups have used or are currently using this challenging six week video-based study from Voice of the Martyrs.  It is an overview of the current persecution of Christians in the Middle East, primarily by ISIS.

Here is a link to a video overview of the study.

I Am N reminds us that we are each "n," the Arabic letter that radical Muslims use to identify followers of Jesus the Nazarene.

Scripture calls us to count the cost of following Jesus. For our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, that cost can be extremely high.

In this curriculum, our eyes are opened to the present day reality of their plight. The material is presented in a way that provides inspiration to how we might pray for them and otherwise support them in their time of greatest need.

Chris Norris, a leader of one of our Erie small groups, had this to say about their time with this study:

The curriculum was incredibly challenging and eye-opening. Our group was moved to prayer and awareness of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for the sake of their faith. Highly recommended but be prepared to feel convicted!

The study material is comprised of a book, a participants guide, and the videos, which are available on RightNow Media.  The book is composed of short chapters relating the personal stories of persecuted Christians. They are grouped in six categories, which follow the themes of the curriculum: Sacrifice, Courage, Joy, Perseverance, Forgiveness, and Faithfulness.

Roger Scarlett, also currently leading a group with this curriculum, describes the experience as "very revealing as to the heartbreaking reality of what is happening in the world to our Christian family members." He said that his group is "having great discussions about how our faith calls us to be the light of Christ in a dark world." 

The material is not all gloom and despair. Christians in the Middle East are also seeing doors opening to the Gospel message as never before from many Muslims who are ashamed of what ISIS is doing. This is very encouraging.

Both group leaders give a strong recommendation for other groups to consider using this curriculum.

Caring for Your Group Members - Financial Crisis

From time to time, many people go through a season where they are in a temporary financial pinch. When this happens to someone in your small group, you as their group leader can play a role in helping them over that hump.

Our Church Care Fund is a ministry designed to meet these needs and we encourage you to fill out the form.  (Note: this form is behind a password page. All small group leaders have been made aware of that password. However if you have misplaced or forgotten what it is, email us at grouplife@mclanechurch.org and we will be glad to provide it to you.) Your site pastor will respond to you directly within 48 hours during the weekdays. (It may be 72 hours over the weekend.)  

Simple guidelines are:

  • The Care Fund addresses basic needs of groceries, clothing (i.e. snow boots), rent, medical bills, and car repairs & payments.
  • This is available for catastrophic emergency needs, such as fire, and traveling expenses related to out-of-town medical care.
  • Anyone within the church or outside of the church who has any of the above needs may benefit from the Care Fund.
  • Any payments may take up to a week.

Thank you for being on the front lines of this important way that McLane Church is able to bring a blessing to people during their time of need.  If you have any questions about this process or its applicability to a specific situation, feel free to get in touch with Tavia or Roger.

ServErie

If your group has been wondering how to serve together in our region, one of the best ways to do this is jumping on board with ServErie. You can sign up as an individual, or as entire group. They do all the organizing of the projects, and all you and your group needs to do is show up, ready to get to work.  So, what is ServErie? 

ServErie is a community renewal program spearheaded by churches across the Erie area.  Our desire is to connect willing volunteers with specific neighborhoods and organizations who are poised to serve those in need in our city.  Our dream is to see the statistics associated with poverty, homelessness, teen pregnancy, high school dropout rates, etc. begin to go down instead of up. We believe that as hundreds of individuals, families, groups, and churches come together and adopt neighborhoods and agencies that eventually we can blanket the whole city with the love and hope of the gospel.

Learn more about ServErie

Help Guests Feel Warm and Welcome

These helpful hints are useful for any small group.

By Reid Smith

When people visit your small group for the first time, they come with all sorts of questions. "Will we like it?" "Will we connect with the people there?" "Will this be helpful for us?" Just showing up can be intimidating because they don't know how they'll be received, if they'll feel like they "fit," and if they'll want to return.

And that's human nature, of course—most people feel less than relaxed entering a new social situation with new people in a new place. But there are things you can do as the small-group leader to help ease any tension that guests may be feeling. Here are some tips to help your guests feel more comfortable, received, and accepted in your small group.

As Group Members Arrive

Greet your guests as soon as they come in. Introduce yourself and let them know it's great to have them at your group. Next, try to learn a little about them (this will help you with introducing them later). Limit your first round of questions to between three and six so that the guests don't feel interrogated, but try to find out:

  • Their names
  • If they live nearby or have attended your church before
  • If they have kids (If so, ask for the names and ages of their children)
  • How they heard about your group

Be sure to introduce them to at least two other group members using the information you just learned. And before you return to greeting the other arriving group members, ignite a conversation between the guests and other group members, or offer to get them something to drink.

After Everyone Has Arrived

When everyone has gathered in one room, try to acknowledge the presence of new guests without making them feel awkward—meaning, don't make them feel like too much attention is being placed on them for too long. To avoid this faux pas in welcoming guests, introduce your new guests to the whole group immediately. Don't leave it up to them to introduce themselves; rather, get the process started for them based on details you learned as they arrived.

For example, "Hey everyone, I'd like to introduce a couple who is visiting our group for the first time. This is John and Jane and they live in Wilsonville. They learned about our group from our church's website and have two kids, Jack & Jill. [Looking at the guests] It's great to have you here with us tonight. Is there anything else you'd like to add?"

Notice several things that were done in this introduction:

  • You got everyone's attention and immediately introduced your guests, which extinguishes feelings of intrusiveness they might have felt if they hadn't been recognized early on.
  • You said they were "visiting" versus "joining," which relieves any pressure of commitment they might have.
  • You broke the ice for them by providing just enough background, but not too much.
  • You used their names and their kids' names, which makes the introduction more personal and warm.

Again, make sure to keep it brief. If you focus too much or too long on your new guests, they might feel like a spotlight is on them and become uncomfortable.

When It's Time to Leave

Thank your guests for being with you at the end of your group's study and discussion time. Again, let them know it was great having them. If they participated in the conversation, tell them you appreciated their input and insights.

Try to introduce your new guests to two more group members before they leave, unless you sense they're eager to make an exit. Make it a goal to encourage face to face conversations with at least half of your group by the end of their first visit. This will make their reflections on their group experience more personable and warm, which will encourage their return.

Finally, as your guests are leaving, give them your contact info (versus asking for theirs) and include specific details about your next meeting. Let them know you'd love to have them come back and to contact you if they have any questions.

—Reid Smith is the Community Life pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and the founder of the 2orMore small-group leadership training and resource ministry; copyright 2010 by the author and Christianity Today. 

From: smallgroups.com

How to Handle Emotions in Your Small Group

When groups value authenticity, it’s only a matter of time before we face a highly emotional moment.

By Jon Noto

Would you opt into being a Bible study leader if you had absolutely no knowledge of the Bible? Your answer is likely "no." It's certain that any discussion would require some familiarity with the Bible, and you'd want to be prepared with at least a baseline level of knowledge.

In the same way, we need to be prepared—at least at a baseline level—to engage with people at a deep heart level if we desire authenticity in our small groups. When our groups hold the value of authenticity, it's only a matter of time before we'll encounter high emotions, including passion, pain, or fear.

Moments of high emotion can actually be great turning points for groups. But you'll need to plan proactively how you might handle these situations. As with most group dynamics questions, the answer involves a combination of three things: your leadership style, the maturity of the group, and the group's vision for the future (often described in the group agreement). In this article you'll find six ways to minister to group members in the midst of emotional moments.

You Can't Have Babies if You Don't Get Pregnant

Photo courtesy of Anna.  License.

Jim led a group for several years and did a good job. It was a strong group that met the needs of the members. Yet, he never seemed to be able to find an apprentice to mentor. So the group did not multiply. Then Jim had a stroke. He was physically unable to lead his group anymore. Since there was no one mentored to take his place, his group soon died. Looking back, Jim did nearly everything right, except mentor an apprentice.

Rod led a group for several years and did a good job. It was a strong group that met the needs of the members. And Rod mentored an apprentice named Scott. When Rod moved on to plant new groups, Scott took over. The group continued to grow. Over the years, Scott mentored apprentices like Mike, Mark, Dave, Dale, and Jamal. Eventually they led their own groups. Many of their apprentices became leaders. Mike and Jamal went on to plant new churches. Rod and Scott made mentoring a priority and multiplied the group several times. Highly effective small group leaders make a habit of mentoring apprentices.

Mentoring Is:

1. Mentoring is cooperating with God in raising up an apprentice to become a highly effective small group leader.

This may sound overwhelming but raising up spiritual reproducers is the heart of God. All you have to do is cooperate with Him in the process.

2. Mentoring is following the example of Jesus and Paul.

A study of the gospels reveals that mentoring was the method of Jesus. The goal of the Christian life is to be like Jesus. In no way is a Christian more like Jesus then when they are making disciples and raising up leaders. Before Jesus told his disciples to make disciples, He did it Himself. Men were His method. Jesus spent his ministry life mentoring future leaders.

Mentoring was Paul's method too. Paul told the Corinthians to follow him as he followed Christ. One of the ways Paul followed Christ was mentoring leaders. When he was killed, the ministry did not stop. Timothy, Silas, Titus, and others carried on.

3. Mentoring is the means of multiplying yourself

How many times have we wished we could be at two places at one time? Mentoring is the only way a busy person can minister in more than one place at a time. For example, fifteen years ago I started one group. I could only be in that one group. Yet, I mentored the people in that group to become multiplying small group leaders. Many of those in that group have spent time the last few years raising up group leaders. Today there are nearly one hundred groups from that initial group. So now, in a sense, I can be at one hundred places at a time!

4. Mentoring is the way one ordinary person can reach thousands

You say, "I could never minister to a thousand people." But if you are an effective small group leader, you can mentor someone else to become a leader. And by mentoring one highly effective leader at a time, you can eventually minister to thousands through the ministry of the leaders you have trained. Effective mentors understand that they will never have multiplied results until they multiply themselves into other leaders.

5. Mentoring is letting go of ministry in order to let others minister.

People fail to see their ministries grow because they hang on to them too tightly. They fall in love with doing ministry. They enjoy meeting people's needs and seeing them grow. Sometimes they even get their self-esteem from being needed by the members of their group.

The problem with doing the ministry yourself is that no other 'ministers' are developed. The ministry stops with you. Effective mentoring involves letting go of ministry in order to let others minister. It lets others get in on the fun of seeing God use them to change people's lives. Effective mentors learn to enjoy the ministry success of others as much or more than their own ministry success.

6. Mentoring is saying, "No" to the urgent in order to say, "Yes" to the potential of the important.

Satan does everything he can to keep us from Christ. Once we are in Christ he does everything he can to keep us from ministering. Once we are ministering, he does all he can to keep us from mentoring. This is because he sees the awesome potential mentoring has to expand the kingdom of God. One of his favorite ways to keep us from mentoring is to get us so caught up with the tyranny of the urgent that we miss the potential of the important. We get so caught up in doing ministry—the urgent, we fail to mentor leaders—the important. Effective mentors make the choice to make it a priority even in the midst of everything else they are doing.

7. Mentoring is the most lasting part of the ministry of small group leadership.

I have led groups for over 20 years. The thing I look back on is not the groups I have led but the leaders I have developed, especially those who are effectively mentoring others. I count church leaders, pastors, and fulltime missionary church planters among those I have had the privilege of mentoring. Their ministry has continued long after I have moved on to new areas of ministry.

Four Steps For Developing New Leaders

1. Model it.

Have them watch as you do the ministry, just as Jesus did with His disciples (Matt. 9:32-38). Let them see a highly effective small group leader in action. When Paul and Barnabas were sent out to minister, Barnabas was the leader . Barnabas was doing the ministry and Paul was observing. Note how they are listed as "Barnabas and Paul" (Acts 13:1-5).

2. Mentor it.

Have them do it as you watch, assist, correct, and encourage, as Jesus did with His disciples (Matt. 10:1). Not long into their journey, Barnabas moved over to give Paul the opportunity to lead. Note that they now were listed as "Paul and Barnabas" (Acts 13:6).

3. Motivate it.

Have them do it as you encourage from a distance, as Jesus did when he sent them out two by two without Him (Matt. 10:5). Similarly, when Paul and Barnabas prepared for another missionary journey, Paul was ready to go on his own. (Acts 15:36-41).

4. Multiply it.

The original disciples multiplied out to a total of 70 (Luke 10:1), then perhaps 500 (1 Corinthians 15:6). After Jesus ascended to heaven, the number of disciples began to multiply to 3,000 (Acts 2:41), then 5,000 men (Acts 4:4), then so many that the Bible just says the number was multiplied (Acts 6:7).

In like fashion, Paul was soon ministering without the help of Barnabas and beginning to take others through the process like Silas (Acts 15:39-41), and Timothy (Acts 16:1-3). By Acts 17:14, Paul left Timothy and Silas to minister in Berea on their own.

Mentoring Suggestions:

1. Never do ministry alone.

2. Take full advantage of all the training opportunities your church offers.

3. Be constantly on the look out for new leaders.

4. Talk of leadership as a privilege, not a burden.

5. Don't put yourself on a pedestal or good people will shy away from leadership.

6. Give responsibilities before you ask them to consider being leaders.

7. Always consult with those above you before you give any titles.

8. Realize that failing to mentor will always mean failing to multiply.

9. Do not release leaders until they have a good chance of succeeding.

10. As you move through the group cycle have your ministry role decrease and your apprentice's role increase.

11. Give lavish affirmation and encouragement to them each step along the way.

 

Article Source: Smallgroups.com

The Basics of Facilitating

 

 

Serving Project Small Group Questions

So your small group has decided to break out of the normal routine of weekly meetings. You are going to meet together and tackle a community project, visit a nursing home, help in the kitchen at church. How do you capitalize on the experience? How can you make the serve more than just a task-based event on your group members' calendar?

Erie site pastor Paul Macosko has provided a list of questions that you can use the next time your group gets together.  It's a great way to reflect on what happened to your group members and their perspective on that experience.

  1. Have each member who went on the serve talk about a memorable/poignant/humorous moment during the project.
  2. What were your thoughts or feelings before we served?
  3. Was there anything particularly difficult for you about the project?
  4. What did you learn about yourself, our group, or our city as a result of participating in the project?
  5. Our church's mission is to "Eliminating barriers to give people access to Jesus Christ." How you feel doing service projects furthers that mission?
  6. Do you think our group should go back to the same place or try something different for our next project?

Can you add to this list of questions?  Feel free to post comments with this article to provide ways to build on and improve this idea.

Movie Discussion Series - A Fun Summer Option!

Small groups often change up their routine during the summer months. Throw in a picnic, a Seawolves game, maybe a day trip together somewhere fun.  But what about something to keep your spiritual muscles working, while at the same time doing it differently than the normal routine?

Smallgroups.com has created a series of studies based on movies that might be an interesting option to consider.  You may want to get together one week to watch the movie, and at the next meeting you could use the study guide to discuss specific scenes within the film.  

Here are the movies in the discussion series (click the title for the study guide), along with links to investigate the movie further:

Dead Poets SocietyIMDB / Rotten Tomatoes / Amazon

Les Miserables (1998 version) - IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes / Amazon

RadioIMDB / Rotten Tomatoes / Amazon

Cheaper by the Dozen (2003 version) - IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes / Amazon

About a Boy (2002 version) - IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes / Amazon

Finding NeverlandIMDB / Rotten Tomatoes / Amazon

Want to be an All Star? Serve in our kitchen!

Each week over a thousand people come through the doors of McLane Church.  Most of them enjoy a nice meal before or after their worship service. That wouldn't happen if it weren't for the willing hands and hearts of those whom we call our Kitchen All-Stars.

We would love to have your small group become part of our team, serving together on a given weekend, or as individuals if that is more convenient for their schedules.  Our team members prep, cook, serve and clean up the food and drink.

To learn more, or to join this team, simply drop an email to info@mclanechurch.org or fill out a MAP card while you're in church.

Calling All Cars!

From time to time the Benevolence team at McLane Church is approached with a need for transportation. Namely, the person needs a car, but has no means to acquire one on their own.

It may be that you have a vehicle that you have been considering trading in or selling for a newer model.  Perhaps you may want to consider donating that car to McLane Church and receive a tax deduction for it's fair market value.  

If you would like to make a vehicle contribution, please contact us by email at benevolence@mclanechurch.org with the details.

Weekly Prayer Requests

Prayer Button

We invite your group to include into its prayer time a weekly list that comes from the leaders of McLane Church. Please feel free to use these prayer issues in any way that fits within your own small group prayer time.

Thanks for helping to expand the depth of prayer intercession for McLane Church!

 

 

Prayers for this week - 5/18/17

  • For folks to make worship a regular part of their weekly routine and to continue inviting people to join them
  • For our ministry season to end strong
  • For God's blessing on planning the summer sermon series
  • For God to help us to accomplish the mission He has given us
  • For a foodservice leader at our Erie site
  • For our planning of G3 summer programming & for an openness of heart from those being invited to serve in this ministry.
  • For revival in our region
  • For Phil and Katie Bookhamer who are missionaries in Thailand
  • For Tammy & Matt Woodley as they prepare to be missionaries in New Guinea

Groaning

I’m groaning. Paul called it “groans of prayers.” Prayers that come from a place of deep desire, of angst. Angst because I’m forcing my passion to submit.  Submit; submit to the work of the Holy Spirit, the timing of a loving, all-knowing Father, the salvation of the Son. I submit my earnestness to God. And while I pray I come to understand what of Paul meant to “contend for the faith.” To contend for the faith is not to voice every opinion I have or even share my angst with others, but to seek to know God’s will; to support the work God is already doing, the making of an artful, beautiful work of a Jesus-centered life. It is His creation, not my project. It takes God’s timing, not my agenda or pious strategy.

For, if my passion were unleashed in words and actions, they would run roughshod over those I love. Damaging them.  Pushing them in damaging ways. I know, because I have done this many times. Because assessing human character,  spiritual weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and knowing right from wrong, is easy compared to the discipleship of a Christ-centered life. The creation of a righteous life is the delicate, nuanced, work of God. He is the master creator. God, our Abba Father, is Love, is fully Present, and has the Heart to die and live for the salvation of a life.  

And so I pray. My role in his art-piece is also a delicate work.  If I’m not careful, attentive, then my sloppy words or actions might make His work more difficult. I need to align my love, my heart to His.  

My prayers hold groans for specific people. They are angst-filled whispers for purposes to be sought after, fought after, and found first by aligning to God, for sin always creates Master-confusion and a divided house. I pray for tenderness and unity to be the goal of ordinary marriage choices, and that that would first be experienced in pursuing a relationship to God. I pray for wisdom for parents who are picking up shattered emotions that they didn’t create, so they can recreate a life in Christ. I pray for the legalist to submit their confident knowledge to the compassion and perfect timing of Sovereignty. I pray for hearts to submit to the Holy Spirit in matters of relationship so truth takes God’s time and love is delivered without judgement or fear or misguided passion. I pray for the Church to welcome the Easter-saved, thanking Him, amazed, that we are His hands and feet.  I need these prayers. They teach me. They free me.  And I cheer for the “art” Abba is doing, in me, in others.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Philippians 4: 6,7

All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you - that’s the agenda for rejoicing.

Luke 10:20


Tavia

Weekly Prayer Requests

Pray Button

  We invite your group to begin folding into its prayer time a weekly list that a few of our organized prayer teams are presently using. Please feel free to use these prayer issues in any way that fits within your own small group prayer time.

Thanks for helping to expand the depth of prayer intercession for McLane Church!

 

 

Pray:

    • For God to provide a building and the resources needed for the move in Erie.
    • That God to keep our eyes fixed on Him through this transition to a new location.
    • That distractions would not keep people away from worship on the weekend.
    • For people who are wrestling with change...that God will speak to their hearts and they will listen with obedience.
    • For our next PZ ministry leader in Union City.
    • Prayers for wisdom & discernment as we plan objectives for next year across the Generational Ministries.
    • For a sound engineer in both Erie and Union City.
    • For the upcoming facilities projects in Edinboro and Erie.
    • For God's continued guidance in the operations of our church.

10 Core Behaviors - Small Group Curriculum

10 core behaviors - FLASH

During the months of February through April Brian will be preaching on the final chapters of the book of Romans.  For  groups or individuals who wish to use the sermon based curriculum that we are creating, you will find it here. A limited number of printed copies of this piece will also be available at the MAP.

 

 

2/8/15 - "LIVING in Christ" (Romans 12:1)

2/15/15 - "Discovering Who I Am" (Romans 12:3-8)

2/22/15 - "Loving for Real, Pt. 1" (Romans 12:9-16)

3/1/15 - "Giving Up on Getting Even" (Romans 12:17-21)

3/8/15 - "Practicing Respect" (Romans 13:1-7)

3/15/15 - "Loving for Real, Pt. 2" (Romans 13:8-10)

3/22/15 - "Wearing Jesus" (Romans 13:11-14)

3/29/15 - "Accepting Diversity" (Romans 14:1-23)

4/5/15 - EASTER

4/12/15 - "Living With Integrity" (Romans 14:1-23)

4/19/15 - "Promoting Harmony" (Romans 15:1-13)

4/26/15 - "Combatting Division" (Romans 16:17-20)

McLane Church - 2015 (Our Mission & Vision)

McLane Church Mission Statement cropped

This week each of our site leaders are speaking on the mission and vision of our church.  We are also asking people to make their Annual Renewable Membership (ARM) commitments this week if they want to be fully involved in the ministry of our church. Here is the Talk It Over material for you to use with your small group in conjunction with the message from this weekend.

McLane Church - 2015

 

January 2015: My Story

My_Story_-_Facebook_Cover

In January Craig Groeschel will bring us four messages from LifeChurch, entitled My Story. The gist of this series is that the decisions we make today will determine the story we'll tell tomorrow.  We will learn to live a story worth telling. With examples from the Bible, this series teaches us to start, stop, stay, and go according to God's will.

If you want to use this sermon series for your small group discussion, Talk It Over inserts will be in the Weekender each week.  You can also preview them here.

January 3/4 - I Decided to Start

January 10/11 - I Decided to Stop

January 17/18 - I Decided to Stay

January 24/25 - I Decided to Go

Small Group Update: Gigi Porter

What follows is the story of how one of our women's groups got started, and a look inside of their group time together.  While their model (4 hour meetings!) is atypical, it shows that there isn't one perfect way to do groups that fits everyone. Thanks, Gigi, for sharing your story!

My name is Gigi Porter, and I am a member of the McLane Church.

In addition to feeding the spiritual needs of our church members, McLane Church also reaches out to the community. One outreach was providing large muffins to the staff members of all the schools in our area. I enjoy cooking and baking; so I was glad to join other volunteers to make muffins.

While I was mixing batter, Joyce Wilkinson asked me if I would like to be a part of a small bible study group. It only took me a second to say yes. Joyce then proceeded to say that if I would be willing to be the leader of the group, she would be happy to have the group meet at her home. Since our church is large,they prefer small study groups. I thought participating in a small group would be fun and further my walk with the Lord, but I don’t mind admitting that I had not ever considered leading a group; so it took me a few minutes to consider the responsibility of being the leader before I said yes. Lo and behold two other ladies heard us talking, and they said they would like to be a part of the group also; so before we had our first meeting, we already had four members. We decided that we would meet on Wednesday morning, and "Our Wednesday Morning Bible Study Group" was officially formed.

Our group is small with just six dedicated members. We meet every Wednesday morning, summer, winter, spring, and fall. In addition to myself, the ladies in our group are Joyce Wilkinson, Peggy Snyder, Julie Willow, Nancy Cozzen, and Betty Lou Benke. The good Lord certainly knew what He was doing when He brought all of us together. Each lady is very firm in her faith, and we all enjoy crafting, cooking, and baking.

I can truly say that over the course of the past three years, we all have become closer, and our time together is very special. We begin at nine-thirty and conclude our meeting around one-thirty or two o’clock in the afternoon. The lesson we are currently studying is drawn from the book A Woman of Strength. We don’t just read the lesson; we dissect it. We listen and value each other’s thoughts. We uplift one another, and share our concerns, sorrows, and joys.

In addition to studying our lesson and growing in our daily walk with the Lord, praying for others is a large part of our time together. Our little group firmly stands on Matthew 18:19-20 where our Lord Jesus tells us “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Oh the joy we experience as we praise the Lord for our answered prayers, and our prayers are answered a lot.

Our Bible study time together has enriched the life of each one of us. It has strengthened our faith, increased our knowledge, brought us a close friendship with one another,and above all has provided us a means to serve the Lord through prayer. I believe I can speak for all of us when I say, we are very thankful, to God above, for "Our Wednesday Morning Bible Study Group."

Minute to Win It - Our Christmas Party

dsc_0365

Over 50 McLane small group leaders and spouses came together last week to have some fun, some food, and some great fellowship.  It was fun to see who the competitors were (tick...tick...tick....) and who was a bit more laid back.  Imagine what it might have looked like if there were serious prizes on the line! Games from Minute to Win It were set up throughout the G3 gym, and groups of five or six rotated throughout the area.  M&M's were shuttling, balloons were flying, rubber bands were zinging, pop cans were stacking (and falling), and marbles were rolling.  60 seconds can go by pretty quickly!

After the ice was broken with lots of laughter (and no injuries...except for pride!), we moved over into the G3 auditorium.  Tavia welcomed the leaders and shared a passage from the psalms followed by Roger offering the blessing on the meal.

While Emily Sweeney and a small band of wonderful volunteers did their magic in the kitchen whipping up a nice meal starting with a tasty salad, a number of our leaders served as hosts for the tables, shuttling in bread-bowls with some wonderful soup, and finishing off the meal with some tasty pie options.  What's not to like?

After the soup, Brian shared his thoughts on the critical role that small groups play in the life of McLane Church, emphasizing that none of this can happen without the commitment of the leaders in the room to help people connect to God and to others in community.

Following the dessert course, everyone was invited forward in order of their length of group leadership to select a coffee mug as a token of appreciation for their service throughout the years.  Back at the table, everyone was encouraged to show their mug to the others, explaining its significance and why they had chosen that particular cup.

If you were unable to make the party this year, please know that we do appreciate your heart for small group ministry and the sacrifice of time you are making to help the Lord touch the lives of your small group members.

May your Christmas be filled with the joy of Emmanuel (God with us)!