small group

How your group can make a difference this Summer

For small groups, the summer can be more than just going abroad for holidays and going incognito for six weeks. Summer can be a perfect time for the Church to give extra to their local community.

We love to have our small group socials, going on walks, described as “just a short one”, followed by a quick drink at the local pub in a quiet, secluded table away from everyone else.

But I would ask this question to our small groups – when was the last time your group made a difference to the community? What events did you organise that were an example of life lived to the full?

I’m not attempting to bash people with smart quips, or to say that believers don’t do enough in this particular season. But, I would like to suggest that we should get stuck in.

British summers offer a variety of possible events, despite frequent weather changes, and I’d like to suggest a few that could impact your community, and might just even get people interested in Jesus.

  • Fun-Days – Whether you have access to your local high street, or perhaps a village green, fun-days are a great way to meet your community with a whole load of activities: sports, face painting, creative performances, things that all ages can feel a part of.
  • Church in the Park – Fancy getting the Gospel of Jesus out to your community, but you don’t have a building? Hire a marquee, get out on your streets and start inviting people to multiple services you can run throughout the day. People’s lives can be transformed at any time, and this doesn’t have to be just on a Sunday morning.
  • Free Concerts – People love music, and if there is a free live music on offer, I guarantee most people will snatch up that offer. You could even get your small group along to an open mic event, it’s easy to start conversation with anyone else in the audience.
  • Social Action Work –If you want to show love to your community through good deeds then use the MATRIX Trust, who are brilliant at Social Action work, as inspiration. You could offer to paint your neighbours fence, completely redo someone’s garden, and maybe even take all their rubbish to the tip? Speak with your neighbours, see what needs to be done, then ask what you can do for them. If they ask why, you can use it as an opportunity to tell them about your faith.

These are just a few ideas that I know have worked before.

Get stuck in this summer: be brave, be bold, and show your community what Jesus’ love has changed for you.

By Chay
Chay is an aspiring filmmaker and photographer. He loves to tell bad puns, and is part of the ‘Pastor’s Kids Society’ in Surrey.

Picking your fight

Our church wouldn’t feel like home for so many if it wasn’t for our collection of diverse and engaging small groups. It’s within these small groups that people find family. In our fast-growing church community, they are a wonderful way for members of our congregation to make friends that last a lifetime, pray together, disciple each other and walk with each other through the joy, tough stuff and curveballs life can throw at us all.

But if in fast-growing and larger church communities small groups are where ‘church’ really happens – how do we ensure and facilitate our groups becoming and staying outward looking too?

The call in Isaiah 58 and 61 to serve the poor, bind up the broken hearted and serve those around us so that they might know the love of God is a call for us in our small groups too – and what a great place to start!

In our church, we are planning to encourage small group leaders to rally their groups together and ‘Pick a Fight’. We are going to suggest that each small group adopts a cause and devotes some of their time to make a difference in that area, whether that’s locally, or nationally!

For example, a small group that is mostly young families might choose to ‘Pick a Fight’ for their local primary school. They might decide to regularly pray for those that work and attend the school, attend PTA events and maybe become governors – anything they believe will bring a bit more of the kingdom of God to that part of the world!

Different small groups made up of those from different demographics will come up will come up with brilliant and diverse ideas. Some might want to focus on reaching out to those involved in local nightlife, supporting local refugees or even devoting their time to a local home for older adults – the possibilities are endless.

When we focus on loving our neighbour, the most beautiful miracles happen, and small groups seem like the perfect place for these miracles to begin. Having the support of loving friends and the prayers of a small group will encourage vision and help us take those first steps into action into loving our communities better.

So let’s go out there, and encourage our small groups to change the world!

By Jazz Crowne
Jazz Crowne co-ordinates the community outreach work for Emmaus Road church Guildford and oversees the churches midweek small groups. She loves a good coffee, a good joke and a good book, regardless of what it’s about.

Being a contributor not just an attender

If you attend a church for long enough you will no doubt be encouraged to join a small group. For churchgoers, a small group is usually active rather than passive. At church you can hide in the background and not participate, whereas I think a small group is all about participation. Even though I recognise this, I sometimes struggle myself to be brave and share a view point or open up about what is happening in my life.

I am trying not to hide behind my phone or clock watch and I am trying to contribute more than a couple nebulous words every meeting. I have been an “attender” and with each small group meeting I am trying to become more of a “contributor”. I think the phrase “you only get out what you put in” is apt when it comes to small groups.

If you’re like me and not the most confident person I want to encourage you to be brave in your small group and become a contributor, and here are some reasons why:

  • Like you and I there are many other people out there who struggle with confidence, so you are not alone. If you are brave and get involved you will encourage others to do so as well.
  • Many people go to small groups because they want to learn, they want to hear your views and reactions as it helps them learn. Your opinion might open a whole new way of looking at something for them.
  • Many people in small groups like to share their knowledge by asking questions you give other people the chance to get actively involved and share their own thoughts.
  • As a small group leader there is nothing worse than long silences when you are leading. When you share ideas or ask questions you can really enthuse and empower the leader.
  • People in your small group will want to pray for you and support you. The braver you are with sharing things that are happening in your life the more opportunities there are for people to come alongside you and support you – not only in the group but outside of it as well.

So if you are lacking in confidence take a deep breath and think of one thing you can do to make your small group experience better and do it. It could be switching off your phone or asking the group to pray for you. I’m not saying things will change like a flick of a switch, but life and small groups are journeys and sometimes the smallest steps can be the most important ones to make.

By Adam
Adam is a keen camper and loves going on adventures with his family. Whilst not in a field somewhere he enjoys working in the marketing team at CWR and worshipping at Gorse Hill Baptist Church.

Have fun feeding your small group

I have been the very happy and willing recipient of lots of hospitality in my hugely blessed life. By hospitality I suppose I just mean being handed nice food for free! These moments of blessing usually happen at church, small group, and in the homes of friends and family. It even bizarrely happens to me at work (more of that to follow!).

On a good day, being ‘shown hospitality’ just offers an extra moment of indulgence, of being cared for and a reminder that I am a loved human being.

On a bad day, receiving hospitality can be a nutritional and emotional life ring.

After a couple of decades of being repeatedly fed and blessed by other people, the penny dropped that if getting handed free food was so wonderful to experience, it would be something I could sometimes do to cheer up others.

Preparation for showing hospitality with food does take a little bit of time, effort and money, but trust me: not much and you get it all back tenfold in blessing from God. Once your heart is ready to bless others things have a funny way of happening easily. Almost as if God’s favour is on you…

At work (CWR / Waverley Abbey College), there’s a guy called Bob. He’s quite busy because he’s the College Director, but he’s also got a great side line: he’s a great baker of cakes and blesser of people. So he often randomly turns up in the office with an enormous fresh-from-the-oven lemon drizzle or coffee or jam sponge cake to feed the team. We are always grateful for the treat, and some hectic days when I’ve raced out of the house with neither breakfast in my tummy nor a packed lunch in my bag, it’s secretly my sustenance for the day.

Why not try blessing your small group with a home-made food treat. Wherever you meet, turn up some time with a tin of home-made whatevers, and enjoy the simple thrill of blessing others. Eating together breaks the ice, it helps people relax and feel welcome. To help get you started, Bob has kindly shared his EASY cake recipe with us! Click below to download a PDF containing the recipe and cooking instructions:

Bobs-EASY-Lemon-Drizzle-Cake.pdf (44 downloads)

Or you can find online anything you fancy making: Scones / cookies

And if that wasn’t enough… there is a hidden benefit to refreshing others, instructions can be found in Proverbs 11 v 25, and my own experience is that you can never out-give God. In honour of God if you give just a glass of water to someone you can expect a tidal wave of blessed refreshment in return.

This is my experience hospitality… let us know how you get on!

By Niki
A humble knitter of socks with an astonishing capacity for tea drinking, Niki grew up in Northern Ireland but finally found her true climate was in the South of England. She is a programme administrator on the postgraduate Counselling programmes at Waverley Abbey College.

Expanding Your Small Groups

One of the key issues for growing churches is: how do I find enough leaders for my small group ministry?

This is especially tough if the church has set the bar for being a small group leader high: ‘We are looking for people who have read through the Bible at least once, spend an hour a day in prayer and regularly lead people to Christ.’ (Yes I am exaggerating, but only slightly)

I want to say, that while it’s true that not everyone can lead a small group, and not everyone would want to, we don’t need to be afraid of the leadership word.

There’s a leader in all of us.

My thinking behind this statement comes from the biblical idea that leading is part of everyone’s DNA. In Genesis we read that every human is made in the image of God (Gen.) 1:27. And whilst scholars have no consensus on what exactly may be included within that, the context gives us a clue. In verse 28 God commands Adam and Eve to take care of the planet: ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. (NIV)”

John Mark Comer wrote in his book, Garden City:

‘The word rule is radah in Hebrew. It can be translated “reign” or “have dominion.” It is king language. One Hebrew scholar translated it as “to actively partner with God in taking the world somewhere.”

What if God has placed a desire within all of us to lead?

The truth is that Jesus’ teaching was largely addressed to disciples, who became the leaders of the church. If we think Jesus’ teaching applies to us, and who wouldn’t, and if we are serious about following Jesus we have (perhaps unwittingly) signed up to learn how to be leaders!

Many of us are not leaders in the sense of calling people to ‘follow us’ somewhere. But if leadership is influence and we are all called to be a godly influence wherever we are – which for many of us in churches – could being a godly influence mean being a leader in a small group setting?

Some people may not be ready to lead: they have stuff to sort out, an ‘old life’ to disentangle from, and new godly habits to prioritise. But everyone has the prospect of being a faithful and godly influence. And those who have sensed God helping them reach a degree of maturity might well find a small group leadership role a thrilling place to serve God.

If your church is looking for new small group leaders, make sure you have the right criteria. Maybe your problem is not a lack of potential leaders, but with the criteria you are looking for?

For more on a biblical view of leading check out my latest book, The Leadership Road Less Travelled: leading as God intended you to (CWR).

Andy Peck, teaching team, CWR

Resource of the Month: 7 Laws for Life DVD

SPECIAL OFFER: SAVE £10!*
NOW £9.99
(RRP: £19.99)

7 Laws for Life DVD

Explore seven key spiritual principles that govern your spiritual life

Based on Selwyn Hughes’ hugely successful book, The 7 Laws of Spiritual Success DVD is presented by Mick Brooks, Chief Executive of CWR, in various locations including a maze, a police cell and in a glider!

Selwyn considered this work to be the culmination of his ministry and his legacy to future generations. CWR’s hope and prayer today is that as Christians discover these spiritual laws and apply them to their daily lives they will experience more of God’s power and presence.

 

This DVD contains everything needed for a small group to study these spiritual laws together. Split into eight sessions, an introduction followed by seven challenging and encouraging 20-minute sessions, you can explore the following key topics:

- Put first things first
- Count your blessings
- Keep on keeping on
- Remember to forget
- Give yourself to others
- Stay close to God
- Cultivate your soul

This DVD is currently available on Small Group Central at half price for £9.99* (RRP £19.99).
*Offer valid until 31 May 2017 while stocks last.

More interesting resources…

7 Laws of Spiritual Success – Book
Maximise the presence and power of God in your life by putting into practice just 7 key elements of Christian living. This extended edition also includes an interactive separate workbook, written by Jennifer Oldroyd. This workbook is a useful tool to help you apply the 7 laws to your daily life through probing questions and practical action plans.

More DVDs for: children, small groups and evangelism.

Resources of the Month: Haggai and Jacob Bible studies


Cover to Cover Haggai

Uncover how God motivates His people into action

Haggai, an often-overlooked prophet, aimed to motivate God’s people to action. His prophecy describes how God uses timing, perspective and more to encourage those lacking drive. These lessons apply to us today as much as they do to the people of the Old Testament. This study explores how motivation is vital in our walk with God.

Over seven sessions, explore in your small group the ways God motivates us today, how we can focus on following Him and that God’s ways are founded on His love and compassion for us.

 

 


Cover to Cover Jacob

Explore the life of Jacob – and learn how God never gives up on us

Best known for deceiving his twin brother Esau, there is so much more that we can learn from Jacob and his experiences as a son, brother, husband and father. Through his struggles, mistakes and challenges, he learnt many lessons and allowed God to set him back on the path towards home.

Over seven chronological sessions, discover more about the family tree Jesus was born into, the power of persisting in prayer, and how to take hold of God’s blessings and purposes for your life.

 

 

More in the series

Cover to Cover Bible study guides are ideal for group or individual study. Experience the reality of Bible events in a fresh way, and gain a new depth to your Bible knowledge and relationship with God. Icebreakers, Bible readings, eye openers, discussion starters, personal application and ‘seeing Jesus’ sections make these Bible study guides a great small group resource.

Resource of the Month: Small Group Essentials


Small Group Essentials

Explore ten vital aspects of small group ministry.

Small groups are tricky because people are tricky! But even Jesus had a small group of imperfect people. Whether small groups are integral to your church or your group is the only one, discover how to change the right things, develop a compelling vision, value leadership, seek God’s involvement, allow people to flourish, and a host of other insights into small group life.

Full of wisdom and insight from Andy Peck, who has been involved with small group ministry in different forms all his adult Christian life, this book is ideal for leaders, co-ordinators, facilitators or anyone involved with small groups.

 

Meet the Author

Andy Peck has been involved in various forms of Christian ministry for nearly 30 years as a student worker and as a pastor in churches, as a writer and editor of Christianity magazine, and as a host of 400-plus interviews with Christian leaders on Premier Christian Radio, and counting. He has preached at over 50 churches and some have even invited him back!

He serves as a full-time tutor for CWR, on a range of courses and is author of Bible60, Bible Genres Cover to Cover Bible Study and Coaching and Mentoring.

 

More books and courses for your small group
by Andy Peck


COURSE: Small Group Essentials – Tools to unlock your group’s potential

Thursday 23 March 2017 at Waverley Abbey House

What makes for an effective small group?

This seminar will give you lots of practical insights and ideas for leading small groups. The course will explore how you can assess the potential of your small group, set goals and keep on course, how to understand group dynamics and the stages that a small group goes through, and the pastoral care of the members of your group.


God's story in 60 snapshots
Bible60
God’s story in 60 snapshots

If you are looking to help people grasp the message of the Bible, Andy Peck shows in this book the key turning points and common themes that run throughout. As these are revealed, perhaps it will encourage you and your group to go on and dig deeper into the Bible. With thirty readings from the Old Testament and thirty from the New, questions are provided at the end of each day to prompt further thought and prayer.


Cover to Cover Bible Study: Bible Genres
Cover to Cover Bible Study: Bible Genres
Hearing what the Bible really says

This study explores seven of the major genres of literature used by writers of the Bible: law, narrative, psalm, prophecy, gospel, epistle and apocalyptic writing. Each study provides an opportunity to consider a wide range of Bible passages that demonstrate the focal genre style and to reflect on what God is saying.

Resource of the Month: Cover to Cover Advent study guide

advent_heralding-the-coming-king-400

NEW Cover to Cover Advent Bible study guide: Heralding the Coming King

It’s a common saying in churches that ‘Christmas begins with Christ’, but for many people the festive season is becoming less about Jesus and more about shopping, television, presents, turkeys and Christmas trees. Even for those in the Church, it’s important to come back to the Bible and remember the ‘reason for the season’.

When we consider who Jesus is – and how and why He came to earth – we can be truly inspired to live a life that makes way for Him, the King of kings..

Join Anne Calver as she explores the biblical figures of the Christmas story: the very first people to experience the incredible presence of Jesus. Find out the true biblical account of the Christmas story: the very first people to experience the incredible presence of Jesus. See how each of their stories connects with Jesus and discover how you too can have a real relationship with the King who speaks and ministers to us today.

Meet the author
Anne Calver is a Baptist minister, author and speaker. Anne is passionate about God’s Word and Spirit, and seeing Jesus transform lives and release people’s potential. She is married to Gavin and has two children: Amelie and Daniel.

Bulk buy offers available until 24 November 2016. Click below to find out more.

 

Also available

previousadventcovers

Bulk buy offers available until 24 November 2016. Click below to find out more.

 

How to use these Advent study guides
These guides are designed to be read day by day, alongside the Bible. There are thirty-one days of studies to read throughout the month of December, over the Christmas period. If you are using these guides in a small group, it will work well if members have an individual copy to read throughout the week. Then, as you complete each section, you can use the Group Study Notes at the back of the book to discuss and consolidate what you have learnt.

Resource of the Month: Transformed Life church programme

An invitation to discover your identity, belonging and purpose through Ephesians 13

As we move into the autumn term perhaps your small group or even whole church is seeking a new programme to study together up until Christmas.

Transformed Life is based around a successful teaching series created by Dave Smith and road-tested by KingsGate Community Church. As a Senior Pastor, Dave has become more and more aware that questions concerning identity, belonging and purpose are key for everyone. When we do not clearly understand who we are in Christ, all other areas of our spiritual growth are undermined and our purpose is lost. Watch the video above to see Dave Smith introduce Transformed Life.

transformedlife

Underpinning the whole programme is the Transformed Life 50 day devotional book, written by Dave Smith. It is suitable for both individuals and small groups. Full-colour 16-page children’s activity books are available for Early and Primary Years.

If you have recently signed up on the Transformed Life website, we will be sending you emails during the autumn term to help and encourage you and your small group. And if you have already taken part in Transformed Life, we would love to hear your feedback, so please let us know how you got along at hello@transformed-life.info

Individuals, small groups and churches can all find extra resources online for free, such as sermon outlines, small group studies and more. Using all of the available resources will unite a small group or the whole congregation, enabling everyone involved to grow together and be renewed, challenged and transformed as they deepen their understanding of who they are in Christ. Visit www.transformed-life.info/home to find out more.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11–12, NIV)

Find out more about our other Church wide initiatives here.