Fact: Death Steps Aside for No Man

Fact: Death steps aside for no man.

However, death was not the end-destiny for Jesus Christ. He did face death it is true. But death could not keep him down. Since He was God in the flesh, death had to step aside for Him. I realize this is difficult for some to believe or to understand.

The Bible records only two men who never faced death. They were both taken up into heaven without dying. Everyone else including you and me will face death one day – unless we are still alive when Jesus returns to gather His church.

In all the history of mankind there is only one man ever recorded who defeated death – Jesus Christ. But how do we know this to be true. After all even with all our technology and modern day science discoveries, we’re told this cannot happen, right?

I want to ask you to look at these four proofs of the resurrection of Christ as written by a former atheist, Lee Strobel, who went searching for the truth.

1. The proof of the empty tomb.

We have several accounts of people verifying the empty tomb. People who actually went in and looked around. The only thing left were the 70 pounds of linen that the dead body had been wrapped in. If someone had stolen the body, would they have first unwrapped it from that much heavy cloth? Matthew 28 records even the soldiers guarding the tomb gave a report to their superiors of the same things Jesus friends had recorded to be true about the empty tomb and the resurrection.

It was Jewish tradition to wrap the body in heavy linen from head to toe. His body was not only covered it was tightly wrapped – with 70 pounds of cloth. You try to wrestle your way out of even half that amount. And on top of this Jesus was badly beaten and without nourishment for three days. He could not have managed to work out of that material in his condition without help. His help came from above. He is the Son of God.

Soldiers were posted outside the tomb to insure no one came to steal the body. When a Roman soldier lost their captive, the soldier(s) were killed as penalty. These soldiers were not going to allow someone to steal a dead body. They even testified to their commanders which in itself should have brought their death. Instead a cover up by the Romans ensued.

2. The proof of eyewitnesses.

The Resurrection of Christ did not take place in a closet, hidden room, or secret society. For forty days people recorded seeing Jesus, walking and talking with him, and even eating with him. At one point Jesus is seen cooking breakfast on the beach with His disciples (John 21). This took place in a fishing village. Fishermen were coming in from a night of fishing. There would have been quite a few boats coming in and people from all the surrounding villages coming to purchase the fresh catch of the day.

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:6 “Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive today.” He appeared to two men and walked with them. Six different occasions are recorded of people not only seeing Jesus, but spending time with Him.

3. The transformation of the Disciples.

If this was a hoax, if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not real, why would eleven men live a life of ridicule, persecution, imprisonment, and other hardships, each one dying a cruel death for this belief? Who would subject himself to such cruelty over a joke or a hoax?

4. The working of God in people today.

There are people across this continent, around the world, and in church this week who can testify and tell you that the resurrection power of Jesus has freed them from the clutches of alcohol, drugs, pornography, a life of crime, and other sins of the world. The resurrection power of Jesus has saved marriages, and brought many, perhaps someone you know, out of depression. His resurrection is not only a saving power it is a power that brings purpose to life.

Jesus is alive and well with Resurrection Power! May we live as though we believe it.

Culture of Discipline follow up

Following the previous post about organizational discipline I have been prompted to probe a little deeper into this topic as it pertains to churches. Church leaders set the tone for discipline of the organization. The discipline of an organization will never reach beyond that of her leaders. In the previous post I gave a metaphoric analogy. In this post let’s look at practical examples.

First Rockwell Church has recently experienced a refocusing, re-visioning process. Part of the church’s new overarching theme in their vision is to practically reach out to the 2,500 people who live in the immediate vicinity of the church building. The church has been in existence for sixty-five years and was founded as the community neighborhoods sprang up in the area. The make-up of church membership is mainly Caucasian, many of whom raised families in the community or were raised in the surrounding neighborhoods. However, many have moved out and the neighborhoods have a strong Hispanic influence today.

For First Rockwell to be successful in carrying out its vision to reach out in practical ways to the people living around the church, the need to rethink everything they do – to rethink the entire culture of the church. The church will perhaps need to develop a whole new set of discipline for how they conduct themselves and interact with the community.

I would venture to say people of all ethnicities enjoy a good party. First Rockwell is known (within their own circles) for an annual summer block party before school begins in August. However, they have not had success with drawing local residents in the last 6-8 years for the block party. Perhaps it is because they throw a “white-American” block party, complete with hot dogs, potato chips, floating duck ponds, cake walks. A change of discipline is needed.

When we say we are going to reach a certain people group, we must change our disciplines to be relevant to that group of people. When missionaries move into a new area to reach the people of that area they do not take hot dogs, plastic duck ponds, and cake walks. The missionaries must discipline themselves to engage the culture of the people who live amongst them. First Rockwell Church must decide to be disciplined in their approaches of reaching and ministering to the people around the church. This could include the food they serve at events and church dinners, the music, times of worship, the terminology used in the church. This will require big changes for the members of the church. More importantly, accomplishing their vision will require a strong discipline of being culturally relevant.

Moorstown church has a three year plan to be actively engaged in the Moorstown community displaying a caring, compassionate community church. To accomplish this the church will need a strong culture of discipline within its membership to get involved in the community through various means; i.e. visiting in homes, church involvement in community parades and events, working with government officials to meet needs in the community, demonstrating compassion for the people who live in Moorstown for the next three years. It is a longer term commitment but the moment the church backs off of its discipline and loses sight of its commitment the community will lose sight of the church.

Bethany Church has set a priority of moving her members from being attendees and spectators to being involved, and on to being fully engaged. Church leaders must develop a course of disciplined cultural moves to assist everyone in moving through these stages and becoming fully engaged. Without discipline the depth of strategic planning will be to little avail.

Whatever your church sets to do inside the building or to the community outside, you need an established culture of discipline. Discipline should not imply punishment Rather discipline is the continuing self-controlled, adherence to regulation and order to accomplish the task at hand.

For more information on building a culture of discipline in your church or organization contact George Yates and visit soncare.net.

How Disciplined is Your Organization?

People often look for the magic behind successful organizations. They are looking for miracles, models and prototypes for success. There is one thing that many successful organizations – churches and others have in common. And it is not a miracle, model, or physical prototype. One correlation many of the successful organizations have is a devoted adherence to a set discipline. Yes, these organizations have an understanding of their mission. The leaders have strategically planned a course of action and continually attempt to instill the core values of the organization to fulfill the mission through those core values.  One thing that sets the successful organizations apart from all like organizations is discipline. Whether you are a leader in a church, denominational judicatory, or any other organization, how is your discipline?

Many of us would answer that question; “Oh, I’m disciplined. I don’t do this or that. I am cautious about these areas…” These might fall under the parameters of discipline. However you will notice they focus on the negatives to avoid rather than the discipline to continue moving forward. Successful organizations, when plotting their strategies, always build in disciplines to maintain the course. If you are planning to take a trip driving from Houston, Texas to New York City and you have only five days to make the drive, you will plan your route and set your course accordingly. Planning your route is where you determine how you will get from Houston to New York. Setting the course is where you will determine how far you will need to travel each day to arrive at your destination in the allotted time. Discipline comes into play along the journey.

If you map out your total miles from Houston, Texas to New York City as 1628 miles, you can divide that by five days and know that you need to drive 326 miles each day. That will equate to about six hours of drive time each day. Through proper planning you will also add into your calculation stops for fuel, rest, and meals. This is still the planning stage. Yet you are building in the discipline aspect of your journey. How well you stick to the course you previously set for the journey will demonstrate the level of discipline and amount of success you will reach along the journey.

Successful organizations build disciplines into the course of action for their organization. Not only in the course of action, a culture of discipline is then instilled and adhered throughout the organization. Using the analogy above of the journey from Houston to New York in a simplified demonstration, an organization with a culture of discipline to drive 326 miles each day would not attempt to drive 500 miles for two days then slack off and only drive 250 miles the other three days. A large part of building a culture of discipline is pacing your journey; keep moving forward at your pace through the difficult times and do not attempt to outpace your organizational ability simply because it looks like you are on a downhill slide. Success comes not from writing disciplines into a plan, but from the faithful adherence to the disciplines set forth.

If you want success don’t search for the magic, models, or miracles of other organizations. Building discipline for a successful venture in your organization requires strategic planning, setting the course, and maintaining the pace of the ability of those within your organization.

For more information on building a culture of discipline in your church or other organization contact George Yates and SonC.A.R.E. Ministries. God bless!

Is Sunday School Important today?

Is Sunday School or small group Bible study classes really important to the health of a church? I believe it is not only important but crucial to the life and health of a church. Much has been written over the years about the 10 Best Practices, the Eight Great Essentials, or the Six Keys to a healthy, growing Sunday School and small group Bible studies as a main component of a healthy church. All of these are great to know and equip our teachers and other leaders to learn and pass on to the people in their classes.

It has been said that the one common denominator in all healthy, growing churches around the globe is starting new units; new classes, and new churches. One thing is certain, when we have a vision for continually starting new units and as a church we are looking forward to the next two or three classes we will need to prepare for, we will see growth and forward movement. Through this process we will be reaching people for Christ, but the growth will not only be numerical.

As our leaders and class members become equipped with the concept and need for stating new units, we experience spiritual growth in our members. Along with this spiritual growth comes leadership growth as well. Both our current and future leaders begin to grow in their spiritual walk and in leadership abilities. Healthy leadership breeds healthy leadership. Healthy spiritual leadership breeds healthy spiritual leadership. Seek resources and help in equipping and growing your leaders in leadership skills, teaching ability, and spiritual health. It is an investment that will pay great dividends in their lives, in the lives of others they teach and mentor, and in the life of the church.

A strong healthy Sunday School (or small group Bible studies) also brings ministry effectiveness to the church. Not only at the traditional 9:30 Sunday morning hour, but ministry effectiveness throughout the week for the church and God’s kingdom. I have for years used the statement, “Anything a church wants to do, it can and should do through the Sunday School.” I say this not only because I believe it, but because I’ve lived it. If our church needs to be more involved in mission work, we’ll take it through the Sunday School. If the Worship leader needs more choir members, we’ll take it through the Sunday School. Whatever it is that the church needs, we can and should attempt to meet those needs through the Sunday School (small group Bible study ministry).

To some this may seem a little odd, but if your Sunday School/small groups Bible study is structured as a caring organization, there is absolutely nothing you cannot do through those involved and engaged in small groups ministry. Sunday School is the largest organization in the church. Therefore it is in essence the church organized. A church organized is a fruit bearing body for God. However, this does require a healthy caring structure at every level of Sunday School and in every class. Healthy fruit producing ministry comes through effective caring structure involving everyone in the organization.

Learn to build healthy effective structure in your Bible study ministry and you can become a fruit producing ministry in God’s Kingdom.

For more information on how to build an effective, fruit producing, caring structure in your church contact George Yates and visit soncare.net.

 

3 Characteristics of an Effective Team

Are you part of an effective team or one person in a group meeting for a common cause? There is a difference. Sometimes groups that call themselves teams do not operate as a team. If you are a sports fan perhaps you can recall watching a “team” like this. The dysfunction of its members leads to chaos and infighting, everyone looking out for his own interest and not the best interest of the team. Not only in sports, perhaps you have witnessed this in your organization or workplace as well. Have you ever considered what makes certain teams more successful than others?

There is much that could be written about building a successful team, more than this blog has space for. With that in mind let me list three initial characteristics of a healthy team. There are certainly more characteristics of healthy, successful teams. However, without these three as a foundation for forming a team and initiating the work, your team will not reach its potential.

Compatibility

One key characteristic is compatibility. Are all team members attuned to the need and working toward a ‘best’ solution and greatest potential of the team? All team members need to be harmonious for working side by side to accomplish the task of the team? This does not mean all members think alike. That can actually be disastrous for a team. Diversity on the team will lead to deeper exploration and greater search for the best outcome. Yet, all team members should be harmonious in reaching for the best solution/result. Compatibility should not imply that we all come in with the same thoughts or gift set on a particular situation. The compatibility needed is that we all agree that a resolution that is best and beneficial to the team objective is what we will work toward. And we will do it without animosity toward each other or ideas presented by other team members.

Loyalty

Loyalty of members to a team is crucial to the performance of a team and all outcomes by the team. We all have priorities in life and the priorities of your team need to be established at the very onset of your working together. Loyalty includes attendance to all meetings, participation, confidentiality, encouragement, and support of team members and objective. These descriptors of loyalty should be discussed and agreed upon by each member at the first meeting of the team.

Shared Responsibility

The term, team, in itself designates the work to be accomplished is to be shared by all members of the team. Too often organizational teams exist with one or two people carrying the load of the work and the team comes together periodically to discuss progress. This is not a team. Every person on a team should be recruited for the team for his or her gift/skill set. Each person has a role to fulfill and skills to assist the team in reaching its goals and objectives.

This is not intended in any way to be inclusive of all characteristics of a functioning team. But insuring these three are investigated and discussed before the team begins its actual assignment will greatly enhance your chances of an effective team and productive meetings and progress. What other characteristics do you value in a team?

For more information on developing effective teams or to pass on your thoughts and ideas contact George Yates and SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

Why is my church not growing?

In a recent conversation a minister asked a couple questions of concern about his church. His questions could have been asked by many church ministers and members across our nation. Actually, I have had similar conversations with other pastors and church leaders. The basis of these questions revolve around, “Why is our church not growing?” While this and similar questions occupy the thoughts of many pastors, I was pleased this minister friend was seeking answers and not afraid to ask.

Our church continues to provide opportunities for the community, Easter and Christmas events, harvest festivals…How does a church make these a ministry and not just a handout? We’re giving away these services and fun times, including food. Most of the time we are asking guests for their name and address but, as far as I know, no follow up is done except to send them a flyer the next time we have a free event coming up.

Follow up is a key to any event or attraction of people to a church. They cannot know the depth of caring unless you demonstrate that depth. In the church world we have bought into the idea that we are showing depth of compassion by hosting these types of events and ministries. How shallow our thoughts when we do this. In essence are we not merely trying to lure them in with a baited hook? Unfortunately, in too many instances this is the truth being played out through today’s churches and we think by hosting these community events we are fulfilling the Great Commission.

I have heard it said more than once that you cannot visit in people’s homes any longer. I find this to be one of the biggest untruths of our day. Serving in KY, OH, GA, CA and working with churches in other states, I have never been kicked out of a home or off a porch when visiting for God. I do go in prayed up and with a proper loving attitude, never with a preconceived idea of the length or specific depth of conversation. My aim is always to share God’s love and my appreciation for the face to face meeting. If this is as far as the visit goes, then I have been obedient in attempting to share His love beyond an event. I always pray for an open door and opportunity to enter into a conversation about Christ as God wills. When this happens I praise Him for the bonus blessing.

Too many times when follow up visits are made, I’m afraid we go in with a wrong attitude or air about why we are there and lose the opportunity to share God’s love allowing Him to work through us in the situation. Whether we verbally express it or not, different agenda comes through to the prospect. I believe when we do not conduct appropriate follow up visits, we do an injustice to God and send a message of the lack of depth of our care and compassion for lost souls headed for an eternity in Hell.

These events can be fun and we get a good turn out from the community but it doesn’t seem to be doing the church any good except for, perhaps, warm fuzzy feelings that we are reaching out into the community. We are building a good reputation in the community for the church but thus far it hasn’t encouraged anyone to visit us for worship. Other churches are doing them, even some government programs do the same.

I’m beginning to feel that the community is merely receiving these as another form of welfare or as entitlements that the church is obligated. I think these have become so common place that they have ceased to show the community that the church cares for them. Thus no longer engendering a desire to become a part of the church.

(Notice the pastor is coming close to answering his own question) Perhaps you are correct. If so what are you willing to do for a different outcome? God has called your church to reach the surrounding community. At some point in history a group of people believed God was leading them to reach the people of that particular area, and I do not believe God’s plan was to reach the community for only a certain number of years. There are still people in the community who need Christ. Therefore, there is still work to be done.

How will your church be intentional about embracing the community? If the community has changed, what changes are required of your church to reach the new face of the community? There are successful churches doing exactly what you know you need to do, be intentional and make the adjustments. Throughout the last 2000 years the church has modified its methods to share the good news and the love of God to the changing cultures surrounding the church. Today is no different. God has placed you, (each person) in the church body where you find yourself today, for a reason. This is your watch. How will you be intentional and lead your fellow believers to be intentional about sharing the love of God and reaching the community where God has placed you?

Why Are So Many Churches in Decline?

RTS cover1People often ask, “Why are so many churches in decline today?” and “What causes decline?” If only it were simple to give a one sentence answer to these two questions. Yet it is not that simple, at least not on the surface. First, we must determine what constitutes a declining church. In the introduction of Reaching the Summit I lay out some of the guidelines that I use for this determination.

There are differing reasons for decline in churches; apathy within the church, loss of vision, lack of purpose, jumping from one ‘next big thing’ to another, and the list goes on. When asked, leaders and members inside the church will give a number of reasons, many of which have to do with outside circumstances, the economy, changing culture, the new church down the street, and more. The difficulty I have with these is you had no control over these when things were going good and you have no control over them now. Therefore, why do we use these as our scapegoat for the church’s current condition?

As God has called us to build His church, has he stated “except in a bad economy” or “with the exception of…” No, He has not. I believe our God is bigger than any economy or cultural shift. Blaming outside forces or circumstances does not get the rebuilding job done. It hinders and keeps us from rebuilding. It does please our adversary. Yet we know that is not our intent.

I believe a better place to look is in God’s word to find a reason for the decline in so many churches today. As I prayed through those questions a few years ago the conclusion I came to can be found in Jesus’ own words in Revelation 2:4.”Yet I hold this against you, you have forsaken your first love.” (NIV) That can be a bitter pill to swallow, at least about our own church. “It may be true of many other churches, but not mine.” When we examine the issue fully, open, and honestly, I believe this is where we need to begin.

Great news is found in the very next verse, Revelation 2:5, Jesus gives us the prescription we need today. “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you you did at first.” (NIV) He is not saying go back to big tent revivals and the methods of yesterday. Jesus is advising us to get back to the love we shared and the compassion with which we shared it. What a glorious revelation to the church at Ephesus and to you and me today as well. What was the passion that drove us in those tent revivals and the “Million More in ’54″? That is where we will find the big tent revivals of today.

God has called you and placed you at the particular place you are serving at this specific time in history to join Him in building His church. He desires to do great things through you. What will you do today in light of Revelation 2:4-5 to bring His light back into the community around you and through the local body of believers in which He has placed you?

For more information on avoiding and reversing decline in your church visit soncare.net, pick up your copy of Reaching the Summit,  and contact George L. Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

Leading vs. Managing

A little more than a year back I wrote a series of posts on Organizational Health for religious entities including the church. In the first post I mentioned the need for returning to leading instead of managing. In recent months speaking on this topic I have observed many realizing as for the very first time that they have slipped from leading to managing in the church or other religious entities. I have also received several comments and questions about moving from managing to leading. In this article my aim is to briefly address the difference between the two.

I have never met a person who entered the ministry to be a manager. Think about it. Have you ever heard anyone say one of the following: I want to be in ministry so I can manage people. or I think ministry is right for me because I want to manage programs and facilities.

My guess is, like me, you’ve never heard these or similar statements because no one enters the ministry to be a manager. Rather, a ministry calling involves the desire to lead; leading people to faith in Christ, leading others in deeper spiritual intimacy with God, leading people in maturation of discipleship, etc. It is all about leading. We want to lead. Our passion is to lead.

When you look up the word lead in the dictionary or thesaurus you find words as front-runner, guide, direct, and steer. When you look up the word manage you see the words; to cope, control, and handle. Ask yourself, “Do I prefer to be guided or controlled?” The answer is always guided. Your people, your staff, team, volunteers, and members are the same. They want to be guided, to be led.

I do understand in leadership there are times when you must manage. However, when our focus becomes managing instead of leading, we have missed God’s calling. While no one enters ministry to become a manager, too often ministers and ministry leaders become managers – managers of people, programs, and facilities. When managing occupies your time you are not leading. In our churches and religious organizations of North America we must return to leading as God ordained and called each of us.

For more information on leading in ministry and moving away from the manager mentality contact George Yates and visit soncare.net.

 

Foundational Principles part 2

Continuing from the previous post are two additional passions for building a strategic foundation for your Small Group Bible studies.

Passion for Growing People

Your church leaders and teachers must have a passion to grow people. The Great Commission says to “make disciples…teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20). Jesus taught us and God desires us to have a passion for people to have the abundant, joyful life that is only available through a life lived according to the truths of Scripture.

Teaching should not be drudgery or a laborious chore. Teaching should be an exhilarating and electrifying experience. But as the Bible cautions, it should only be undertaken by those called of God to teach biblical truths. When you teach biblical truths and the ways of God to others, it is a thrilling and moving experience, especially when you see a truth being caught by learners. Remember also that teaching is not dispensing knowledge. Teaching is guiding others through the learning experience. God has given us two (that I have discovered) natural learning abilities—discovery learning and imitation.

As a teacher, guide people in the discovery of God’s truths and principles for their lives. This is where learning takes place. Good, effective teachers do not give all the answers. They guide learners down the path of discovery learning. As Christian believers, we are to grow people into the likeness of Jesus as we grow closer ourselves. As long as we are alive on earth, we are to be learners and to be guides and leaders of learners, always striving to observe and teach others to observe all things that God has instructed.

Passion for Prayer

As believers we should have a passion for prayer, communion with God. Communion is a spiritual union through a close relationship. How can we have a close relationship without spending time with the other person in the relationship? It would be impossible. The only way to have a close relationship is to be in frequent two-way communication with each person involved in the relationship. The more contact and open communication we have, the closer and stronger the relationship will grow. The more time we spend with God studying His Word and in prayer (communing with Him), the closer our bond and relationship will be with Him.

The closer our relationship, the more apt we will be to hear and understand the voice of God leading us through our lives. Always striving to draw closer to God in our relationship will allow us to be better equipped to lead and guide others. Through small-group Bible study we can learn with others about the closer intimacies of a relationship with God as we study and pray together.

The second principle or set of factors for a healthy growing church through small-group Bible study is through strategy: intentional strategic planning and implementation. In short we need a strategic plan for implementing and continuation of each of these four passions.

For more on building Passion and Strategy in your small groups contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries and visit soncare.net

Foudational Principle for Every Healthy, Growing Church

In the next couple of posts you’ll read about what I believe to be the foundation for every healthy, growing church around the globe. There is not enough space here to give anything except a snapshot of this principle foundation of a healthy, growing church.

This principle foundation is offering to members and guests alike a place to study God’s word for His truths to assist each person in daily living. There is a difference between open and closed small groups for Bible study. An open group – which is the basis for this set of articles – is a group (preferably of 15 or less) of people gathering on a regular basis to engage in Bible study to gain a joyful and abundant life with lasting satisfaction. Small Bible study groups also assist people by providing a natural channel to build relationships with each other. I will not go into the mechanics of small group Bible study (this term is interchangeable with Sunday School or your preference of titles). Rather we will address various factors of two principles for developing a healthy growing small group Bible study organization for your church. The first is passion.

PASSION

Passion for biblical equipping

Your church leaders must have a passion for teaching and equipping people with knowledge and wisdom of Bible truths and how the truths of scripture apply to our lives today. Teaching in the biblical sense is more than dispensing knowledge. Teaching the way Jesus taught and the way we are instructed to teach is the act of causing someone to learn or to accept something. In the book Teaching That Bears Fruit, I referenced the definition for the words “teach” and the Greek word for teach “didasko.” The italicized and underlined phrase above is the combination of the two definitions. The definition for both of these words uses the word “cause.” The definition of the word cause is something that produces an effect, result, or consequence.”

In teaching of biblical truth, our aim is to produce life changing results or to bring about a life changing effect in our own life as well as the lives of our learners. Dispensing knowledge may produce biblical trivia buffs but it will not produce life changing learning. The Bible was not given to us for information but for transformation. We are to use our time in Bible study to produce life changing learning in the lives of our listeners. While there is a place for individual Bible study, it cannot take the place of studying with a small group of individuals learning together. You’ll learn more studying in a small group of six to twelve than you will ever learn on your own or in a larger group.

Passion for community

Your church leaders must have a passion for community. Community is a group of people with a common background or with shared interests within society. Open small groups participating in Bible study permit people to join the group at any time without feeling lost or out of place. Thus building community among all involved in the Bible study group is imperative.

There are at least two ways to close a group. One is to study the Bible using material or curriculum with a format for sessions building upon previous sessions. It is difficult for a person to join the group after the first session as he/she will be behind in the shared learning experience. In open groups the material may be related to previous sessions but not built upon the premise of having to have studied the previous session to gain from the current study session.

The second way to close a group is to put up relational barriers. This is all too common in many existing classes in churches today. Because a group may have been together for several years, they tend to forget what it is like to be new in the group. We become so engaged in our own relationships and interactions that we neglect to truly include the newcomer or guest. This is to the detriment of newcomers becoming an active part of our small group. Though our words to the newcomer are often, “We welcome you,” our actions speak much louder than our words, and newcomers seldom break through to become “insiders.” In case you have not noticed, outsiders do not stay around very long.

Studying together in a small group fosters relationship building and community among the participants. As we spend more time together, our friendships grow and we bond over common issues and struggles studied in our small group. As we grow together, we spend more of our lives together. Not only our stories, but sharing our time and talents as well assists in building community with those in our small group. As long as we work to keep our group open, we can not only grow in community; we will also grow our community with newcomers.

In the next post we will look at two additional passions that will enable your church and small groups to be effective in reaching and growing.

You can find more information on passion for biblical equipping in Teaching That Bears Fruit and Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church.

For more information on Passion for Community in Reaching the Summit or contact George Yates at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries

This article was adapted from chapter 12 of Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church