Archives For Small Groups

6 Requirements for Cultivating Community in a Church

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind . . . Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Luke 10:27 NCV).

There are six requirements for cultivating community in a church:

Cultivating community requires commitment

If you’re tired of fake fellowship and you would like to cultivate real fellowship and a loving community in your small group, Sunday school class, and church, you’ll need to make some tough choices and take some risks.

Cultivating community takes honesty

Real fellowship depends on frankness. In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other.

Cultivating community takes humility

Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.

Cultivating community takes courtesy

The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The…

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Parkview Christian On Mission

“Your mission . . . should you choose to accept it.”

Every kid growing up in my generation longed to hear those words from the television series, “Mission Impossible.” The agency would send a super secret tape player to the secret agent, who would listen to instructions (usually involving a dangerous trek to some communist country), and then the tape would self-destruct so no one else could ever know what the super secret mission was.

Interestingly, there was never an episode where the agent said, “I’m not feeling it, I think I’ll go get a beef sandwich.”

The assumption here is that if you are an agent, it’s your job to take the mission. If you want to sit around all day and play Candy Crush®, you can work somewhere else. Maybe the DMV. But if you’re an agent—you accept the mission. That’s the whole reason you took all those Kung Fu lessons.

Guess what? Every believer is an agent. Every believer has a mission.

The Life on Mission curriculum is about how to help your congregation realize that they are on mission. Not just the Pastor. It’s written to help them understand…

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Culture Wars

By Tim Harlow

Life on MissionI believe that God puts us where He wants us. I know that’s an obvious opening statement, but that means that I actually believe that God put me in Chicagoland in 2015 because He gave me certain gifts and abilities that He wants me to use.  I don’t think I would have fit in as a preacher in Mayberry in the 1960s. I just could not have dealt with the legalism. I would have probably opted for Woodstock.

I was recently at an event where I heard a lot of well-meaning Christian leaders talking about “taking our culture back.” There are many church leaders who would love to bring back the “moral majority” to America. And while I hate what immorality does to people’s lives and also to the heart of God, my study of church history shows me that Christianity is usually most potent when it comes in from the outside. Jesus didn’t call us to be the majority of the earth.

He called us to be the salt and light.

I want to lead the Christians who are cellphone lights in a movie theater. Do you know what I…

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One Way to Boost the Confidence of Givers In Your Church

We’re right in the middle of our Daring Faith campaign at Saddleback and lives are already being changed in amazing ways! One element of this campaign is that we’re asking people to give to some really big goals. We’ve created a brochure helping people to clearly understand every aspect of the campaign, and one section of that brochure is designed to help people have confidence when they give.

A Church Worthy of Your Support

Any time you are asked to consider giving to an organization you should ask three questions:

1. Do they have a track record of success and effectiveness?

2. Do I trust the leadership and have they proven to be competent?

3. Will they make the best use of my gift?

With a 35-year record of effective ministry, global impact, world-wide respect, and countless changed lives, you can be certain that your gifts to Saddleback Church will produce the greatest impact for Jesus. After planting 15 campuses around the world, training over 400,000 other…

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Small Group

In early 2000, our leadership team began asking the question: What does a healthy follower of Christ look like? If we are to be successful in fulfilling Christ’s commission to make disciples, we need to define the term “disciple.” Through a series of meetings, we determined that a healthy follower of Christ is someone who is balancing the five biblical purposes in his or her life and heart.

A healthy follower of Christ is:

·      Surrendering his or her heart and life to Christ on an ongoing basis.

·      Experiencing fellowship with other Christians.

·      Growing in Christ through “being” and “action.”

·      Discovering and using his or her God-given gifts and abilities.

·      Reaching out and sharing the love of Christ with nonbelievers.

Unless you know what the target is, you cannot hit it. For us, the target became health through balance. As we begin to reflect Christ and become more like him, the focus of our lives will shift away from self-centeredness and toward serving him through every area of our life. That is health and balance.

So if we as a church were trying to produce healthy followers of Christ, our leadership team had to decide what…

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The 10 Building Blocks of Biblical Community (Part 2)

Churches must grow larger and smaller at the same time. The larger a church gets, the more intentional it has to be about being smaller, and small groups are the ideal way to create micro-communities within the larger church family. Every congregation is a fellowship of fellowships, a combination of associations, interest groups, and constituencies.

In my last post, I shared with you the first five of ten building blocks for biblical community. In this second part, I’m sharing the other five.

6. Humility

This is key because next to fear, pride destroys relationships more quickly than anything else. That’s why 1 Peter 5:5 is so important for us as believers. “Clothe yourself with humility towards one another.” Humility means being honest about my weaknesses because I have them. Humility is being willing to admit it when I’ve made a mistake because we all do. Humility enables us to say the four most difficult words, “I need your help.” The three most difficult words, “I was wrong.” The two most difficult words, “Forgive me.”

7. Honesty

Most people don’t have anyone in their lives who loves them enough to…

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The 10 Building Blocks of Biblical Community (Part 1)

What the public generally knows about Saddleback Church is that we have a large weekend attendance, but what the outside world doesn’t realize is that the strength of Saddleback is really in our small groups. The press reports what happens on Sunday, but they can’t see what happens all week long. The fact is, more people are involved in small groups at Saddleback than attend the weekend services.

Small groups are extremely important at Saddleback because we believe so strongly in the power of community. Community is a bit of a buzz word in today’s church culture, and I think that’s a good thing. We need to understand it. It’s really a modern term for an ancient wordfellowship. The Greek word for fellowship in the Bible is the word koinonia. And koinonia means being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ.

At Saddleback, we talk a lot about the building blocks of biblical community, and there are at least ten of them. Here are the first five . . .

1. Frequency

In fellowship we meet together often. It’s not an every once…

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Healthy Small GroupSaddleback Church might seem like a large church on Sunday, but what’s really amazing is that we’re actually larger when we’re smaller. We’re larger during the week. On a recent weekend at Saddleback, we had over 25,000 people gathering on our campuses in southern California for weekend worship services, but there were about 35,000 who met in small groups from Santa Monica to San Diego.

Our model for ministry isn’t found in the list of largest or fastest-growing churches on earth. Our model for ministry is actually the very first church in the Bible. In Acts 5:42 it says this “The first church met day after day in the temple courts and from house to house.” We come together on the weekends for a large group gathering of everyone in the congregation. And then we scatter all week long for small group gatherings from house to house.

This matters a great deal if you want to see lives transformed. On the weekends, people come together and experience God’s powerful presence, hear teaching from the pulpit, and serve others within the life of the church. But it’s during the week, in small groups, that…

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8 Reasons Believers Give to Your Church

If you want your church to grow, you must learn how to motivate believers to invest their resources into the Kingdom for ministry and for facilities. It is a key responsibility of leadership. Whoever writes the agenda must be able to underwrite the agenda. If you’re going to form the vision, you also have to be able to fund the vision.

A lot of pastors, a lot of elders, a lot of church leaders have a real hangup about asking people to give. They allow personal insecurities and personal fears to limit the ministry. You don’t need to be embarrassed about asking people to give. There is nothing greater than the Kingdom of God. There is no more significant cause than the church.

I am very much against fundraising, but I am in favor of teaching people to give. Fundraising is what I call collecting money from other people in return for a product, service, reward, or recognition. But in giving, we simply challenge ourselves to give out of our own resources for spiritual reasons. The result of fundraising is that funds are collected. The results of…

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When you or your people are presented with an opportunity to grow, a certain degree of risk is always involved. It may be a risk of time or money or a risk of stepping out of a comfort zone. At that moment, they have two options: step out in faith or be paralyzed by fear and refuse to move at all. The key to preventing paralysis is lowering the bar of risk and providing your people with opportunities to become involved at a crawl level. Once they have been successful at the crawl level, which builds their faith, then you can ask for a walk commitment and later a run commitment. Unfortunately, very often churches place the entry bar too high and ask immediately for a run. Doing so almost ensures your people will be paralyzed by fear and refuse your request. The risk level is just too high. If you lower the bar and ask for a crawl commitment, you have reduced the risk and increased the likelihood of getting a positive response.

Risk and Opportunity

In 1 Samuel 17 we see a wonderful example of the opportunity-risk or fear-faith cycle played out in the life of David. His first opportunity…

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Right now at Saddleback Church we are in the thick of it! We are finishing up our “Live Your Calling” Campaign; a Campaign that launched over 3,000 new small groups. Yup, you are reading the correct! Praise God and oh my Lord we need your help!!! This is been the most successful Campaign at Saddleback in the 15 years I have been their Small Groups Pastor. Right now at the height of the Campaign we have 7,018 adult small groups! If you don’t know what a Campaign is, click HERE.

So what has helped Saddleback Churches small groups sustain over these past 15 years to increase from 260 adult small groups to 4,587 adult small groups (this number is prior to the Campaign)? Some of it is learning in the moment and some is trail and error, but most of it is by God’s grace! As a small group pastor for over 25 years now, (hurts to even say that!) what I have learned is that it is easier to start groups than sustain them. Every year we face the same situation, how do we hold onto all that God creates? (this is a…

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