Archives For Fellowship

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to connect authentically with God’s people.

Topics include: Small groups, relationships, conflict resolution, etc.

5 Keys to Building a Solid Foundation for Your Small Group Ministry 

I have this displayed on my office whiteboard: “Vision without implementation equals hallucination.” I believe in vision. If you don’t have a plan for implementing your vision, you are wasting your time. Success involves the management of ideas. Ideas can provide wonderful breakthroughs for your ministry. However, trying to implement too many ideas at once can crush or fragment your ministry. Here are five important keys to begin building a solid foundation for your small group ministry . . .

1. Think church-wide

Each local church is meant to be a unified body, working together in a coordinated way toward a common purpose. This means that as you plan your small group ministry, you should start by thinking church-wide. The weekend services, the small groups, and the other church ministries all work together to achieve the outcome of a mature disciple—what Saddleback calls the Purpose Driven Life.

2. Plan intentionally 

Whole-church coordination doesn’t happen by accident. It takes intentional planning. As Christians, it is possible to get caught in the passive “If God wants it to…

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Every relationship—even a good one—has conflict. If you don’t know how to deal with it, how to resolve it, how to manage it, you can kill your relationship.

The Bible says conflict is caused by selfishness. James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren’t they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you?” (GNT). I am basically a selfish person. I think of me before I think of anybody else. And you do, too. I want what I want and you want what you want, and when these competing desires collide, that’s called conflict.

The night before I got married, my father-in-law sat down with us and said, “There are five areas where marriages usually have conflict: money, sex, in-laws, children, and communication.”

My father-in-law was a prophet. In our marriage we’ve gone five for five! We’ve hit every single one of them.

Some of you are in major pain right now. You are frustrated. You feel stuck in your relationship because you have argued about certain issues over and over with no resolution, much less reconciliation. You don’t know what to do.

If you’re going to pull together when conflict…

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Growth of a Plant

The world needs the influence of the church more than ever before. And, at least in Western culture, the church faces many significant struggles as it seeks to influence its surrounding culture.

The solution, at its root, is to plant, grow, and build as many healthy, vibrant local churches possible — churches that believe and teach the biblical Good News about Jesus.

In other words, the growth of the church is for the good of the entire world, so your church needs to grow!

But how?

There are plenty of answers in terms of systems and methodologies, models and approaches. But before we go about the reshaping of the structure or ministry of a church, we first need to experience a change in our mindset.

You must develop an unshakable conviction about growth.

An opinion is something you’ll argue about; a conviction is something you’ll die for.

You need to settle the issue that God wants his church to grow. All living things grow. If a church is alive, it grows. Growing a healthy church is hard work, and unless you clarify your convictions, you’re going to be tempted to give up.

You have to develop this conviction because:

Walking Together as a Group

We may attract attenders through preaching, but disciples are made in small groups.

When you’re leading a campaign, like 40 Days of Prayer, or anytime in the future as you lead your congregation toward a deeper relationship with Jesus, you’ll want to explain to your members why small groups are so important to spiritual growth and why they are more than just a Bible study.

Small groups provide the kind of accountability and support we need to mature as believers, so I want to give you four reasons why they are important to your congregation.

Small groups are relational.

You can’t have a conversation with 600 people or 60 people, but you can have a conversation with six people. Generally, when there are more than 10 in a group, people stop talking. It is impossible to learn how to love your neighbor as yourself unless you are involved in a small group of some kind. You don’t need a lot of friends in life, but you do need a few good ones, and you find those solid, supportive friendships in small groups.

Sometimes I hear people say they…

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If God allowed you to baptize hundreds of new believers, add hundreds of new members, and increase your average attendance by thousands in just 40 days, would you call that a revival?

If, during those same 40 days, God prompted people in your church who were previously uninvolved to start serving in ministry, and caused others to commit to a world missions project, what would you call that? An awakening?

What term would you use if God led your members to become so concerned for their spiritually lost friends that they convinced their neighbors to study the Bible for six weeks in one of thousands of small groups meeting in homes around your city? A miracle?

Well, whatever you call it, all this has actually happened at Saddleback Church during the various campaigns we’ve conducted over the years, and we stand in awe at what God has done. And God has repeatedly worked through campaigns hosted by thousands of churches around the world in similar ways.

Untold thousands have come to Christ and have been baptized, welcomed into church membership, connected to a small group or Sunday School class, taught the meaning of real worship and fellowship, equipped for ministry, and then…

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Love Your Neighbor

Last year was a very difficult year in many ways.

Our culture has been battered by one crisis after another: scandals, shootings, angry protests, and a constant barrage of mad pundits shouting at each other in the media 24 hours a day. Our nation is deeply polarized and fractured into splinter groups that demonize each other on the internet. And, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in violence in our streets, schools, theaters, and now even in churches.

We’ve seen the rise in vile bigotry, hateful racism, and ignorant prejudices against different cultures and immigrants—in a nation that was built by immigrants! I imagine the Statue of Liberty is weeping. And we’ve seen the videos and heard the voices of people genuinely hurt by injustice or poverty, or by having their job shipped overseas.

How should followers of Jesus respond to all the anger we see erupting today? How can God’s family, the church, be the “peacemakers” and the “ministers of reconciliation” that Jesus commands us to be? How do we build bridges to each other instead of walls around our hearts and homes? We can begin by loving like Jesus loved.

Here are five important ways to do just…

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Bikes

Summer is a great time to reflect on your leadership. You are between the “start of the year” season of ministry and the “fall season,” wrapping up the end of the year. In my personal life, each month, I look at my spiritual health planner to see where I’m at with spiritual goals, course correct, and the push into next month. It’s like my spiritual tune-up.

The same is true for my leadership. For me, summer is a season when I can take a deep breath, pause, and evaluate. I like to look at five attributes of my leadership that affect our church’s Small Group Ministry.

Am I taking a risk?

Comfort zones can be stabilizing places, but they can also be a barrier to the next level of ministry for you and your team. A good question to ask yourself is – Where are you taking a risk in ministry? When I use the word, “risk”, I mean, is there a new way you need to do ministry that may be better? If money wasn’t a barrier, what would you do?

Once you answer that, what are different ways to accomplish that goal with the funds…

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One great way to connect your church into small groups is to focus on life transitions. More than at any other time in our lives, we need people when we’re going through periods of great change. Helping people join small groups during these times provides immediate comfort as well as the potential for years of ongoing support.

What transitions should your church use to connect people?

Significant events: Take a look at significant events in people’s lives. When you baptize several people at the same time, try to get them together in a small group.

After you hold a baby dedication, start a parenting small group. In your premarital counseling process, recommend that young couples join a small group. These events happen all the time in churches. Use them to help people build meaningful relationships.

Struggles: Pain motivates people to get connected with other people. No doubt about it. For example, many people are struggling with finances right now. Help them connect with others who are struggling in that area. You can find all sorts of great small group curriculums that deal with finances. Whenever we do a stewardship message at Saddleback, we give people…

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How Men Become Super Achievers

Men are wired for achievement. Ultimately, God made us this way so that we would pursue and achieve his purposes for our lives.

But there are a lot of reasons why men struggle to achieve the goals for which God made them.

  • We’re easily distracted by both opportunities and threats.
  • We’re criticized when we choose to follow God’s plan at any cost.
  • We’re often overwhelmed by the responsibilities of manhood.

Here are some words of wisdom for men who want to fulfill their God-given destinies and achieve his purposes . . .

1. Keep on working in spite of the distractions.

There are multiple kinds of distractions men face. Some are subtle and some are obvious, but we manage, often, to fall for both.

Positive distractions come in the form of opportunities to do more things than we were made to do. Often, these are “good” opportunities, except that they aren’t the opportunities God has led us to pursue. We get busy. We get overwhelmed. And we start finding our identity in work and business and secondary pursuits.

Negative distractions come in the form of enticement to sin,…

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HuddleThere are two questions inherent in every small group ministry: How do you get people connected into new groups, and how do you sustain existing groups? There are two crucial areas you need to consider in sustaining your small group ministry.  One is how you do infrastructure; not sexy, but needed if you have over 10 groups in your church.  This topic will be discussed in next month’s issue. The second area, and the topic of this article, is Sustaining Gatherings.

What in the world is a Gathering? Why are Gatherings important and why should your church do a Gathering?  How do you do a Gathering?  Are Gatherings just for large Small Group Ministries?  Each of these questions needs to be answered in order for you to sustain the small groups you start.

What is a Gathering?  MLM’s (Multi-Level Marketing) or companies doing a “pyramid” strategy have known the value of bringing together their people for a rally for some time.  At these gatherings, the companies cast vision, share values, and get their people excited about the future. This is a valuable lesson we can learn from.  The church, however, reaches far beyond…

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Best Mother's Day Gift

Pastor, if you’re like most men out there, you’re probably still looking for just the right gift for your wife this Mother’s Day. You may be searching the Internet, walking the aisles of a department store, or thinking through the perfect lunch.

But you may already have the perfect Mother’s Day gift within your grasp.

In just about any survey you find about women’s needs, affection is at the top of the list. Affection symbolizes security, comfort, and approval. When a husband shows affection to his wife, he sends a powerful message to her: “I care for you. I’ll take care of you. I’ll protect you. I’m concerned for your needs. I approve of you. I’m proud of you.”

Colossians 3:19 says, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (NIV). The Amplified Bible says this in the verse, “be affectionate and sympathetic with them” (AMP). As long as Jesus Christ is first place in your life, it’s impossible to give your wife too much honor. The more you appreciate her, the more you love her, the more you show affection for her, the more she will mature in Christ.

You can learn…

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I don’t know about you, but I find Mother’s Day a complicated holiday for a lot of different reasons. Some of you may as well. On the surface it looks like it’s made for Hallmark and Kodak moments and all those incredible things. And there’s a lot of ooey-gooey good sentiment that I love about Mother’s Day.

But I must tell you, I wrestle with some complicated emotions. Maybe some of you can relate. On one hand I have the absolute utter joy of celebrating Mother’s Day with my beautiful firstborn daughter, Amy, and our son, Joshua. But at the same time, there is a profound aching in our souls because Matthew, our youngest son, is not here with us. Our hearts are heavy. We miss him. We miss his loving presence.

Being a mother is a unique privilege. God’s Word says “Children are a gift from the LORD” (Psalm 127:3a NLT). As mothers, we receive that gift and experience the joy of pouring our heart and soul into our child’s life. At our core, we are wired to nurture and stand prepared to fiercely protect them from all danger. A mother’s soul is woven with…

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