Archives For Jon Noto

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b NIV).

Make a list of the top three times of growth in your life. Odds are quite high that one, two, or three of them were troublesome times. Maybe you brought the trouble on yourself by going to graduate school. Or the trouble happened to you when multiple staff members left at the same time. Either way, trouble comes our way and we have to face it. In times like these, I’m encouraged by an adage a mentor once told me:

Growth does not come free of charge.

Small group ministry lends itself to messes. We want people to be real and to be in relationships. That’s a recipe for messiness! Fortunately, our God is one of restoration and growth in the midst of pain.

As long as you’re going to have the messes, you (and your small group leaders) might as well grow from them. In God’s Word we see imagery of the refiner’s fire subjecting precious metals to extreme temperatures to enhance and perfect it. Consider a mess you may even be in right now, and let God…

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Here in America the recent election has caused disruption between and within communities. It reminded us that differences in opinions can grow into disruptions of community. Small Group Network’s international membership is likely not experiencing this in the same way. But we are all familiar with the lurking questions that create dissonance.

The dynamic of divisiveness is universal. New Testament writers frequently address disagreeing groups and coach them to right relationship. Rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, groups that disagree on specific teachings teachings — they are all encouraged and equipped to handle these situations.

Differences of opinion, especially heated or hostile differences, cause divide. It might be temporary, but there is always a risk that it intensifies. Sometimes it grows deep and wide enough that it cuts off relationship and communication. Divides can break up friendships and marriages. They can also lead to a Christian community’s splintering.

What causes a difference of opinion to grow into a disruption of community?

Several factors that lead opposing points of view to disrupt relationship. Help your leaders monitor these influences whenever possible.

It’s personal.

Disagreeing about a theoretical idea is easier than a personal concern. Imagine a small group of…

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There’s no shortage of “answers” on the Internet. If you’re looking for opinions on any topic they are only a click away. However, after we wade through these so-called answers we often find ourselves scratching our heads and wondering, “Okay, so now what do I do?”

Colin Wright once said, “Ignorance is a temporary affliction, remedied only by asking the right questions.” Sometimes answering a question yourself will take you much further than listening to someone else’s answer.

Group life ministry is one of the most contextualized ministries of the church. An offering that focuses primarily on relationship will shift from church to church. Perhaps it’s time we stopped looking for answers and started asking the right questions.

Why do you do small groups?

Have you and your leadership team ever stopped the fast pace of ministry to ask, “Why is it that we do small groups at all?” You might be surprised by some of the answers you hear. Is the answer immediately biblical? Are small groups the answer to a pressing problem? Have you just always done small groups and you were hired into the role? Whatever the response is, it will impact how…

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Summer

Summer is a challenging time as a group life point person. Many small groups take breaks or alter how often they meet to accommodate changing family schedules. I used to see this as a threat to group life ministry. However, where the world presents a threat, God often presents an opportunity.

Summer is a great time to do things that feel “out of the ordinary” and special. As group life pastors we should lean into this and not away from it. It’s a great time to do things that are out of the ordinary for our small group leaders and members. Summer is a great time to connect, inspire, and plan ahead.

Cluster coaching is a great way to do that. Cluster coaching refers to a method of meeting with groups of leaders for one-time sessions to connect and exchange information. While a cohort would continue to meet and stay connected, a cluster of leaders would focus on the single meeting; something out of the ordinary!

Send a personal invitation directly from you to your leaders. Ask them to opt in (this is not a venue to force people into). Serve a meal for free and…

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