How Important is Praying Together, Corporately and as Small Groups?

Group Praying

I am going to answer two questions that I don’t often see asked together: How important is praying together as a church (“corporate prayer”), and how important is small group prayer?

First Question: How Important is Corporate Prayer for a Church?

Twice a year, preceding Christmas and Easter, we ask ministries and small groups to suspend their regular activities to instead pray corporately at our “Concerts of Prayer.” Why do we do that? How important is all-church, corporate prayer?

One of Pastor Jim’s longtime mentors, Pastor Dee Duke, from Jefferson, OR, leads an annual prayer conference which covers much ground on many topics including biblical benefits of corporate prayer. The importance of gathering corporately for prayer is plainly and powerfully seen in his points. Here are some of my favorite:

The more corporate praying that a church does…

  • The more people in the church will know God, and the greater the sense of His presence will be in their lives. (Acts 4:31; Matthew 18:20)
  • The more joy, confidence, security, faith and peace they will experience. (Psalm 16:11; Ephesians 1:18-23; Philippians 4:6-7)
  • The more people will grow spiritually. (Acts 4:31; Ephesians 3:14-16)
  • The more boldness, courage and passion the people will have to reach their lost friends, neighbors, and relatives for Christ. (Acts 4:31; Ephesians 6:19)
  • The more desire there will be in the hearts of people in the church do the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:16; Matthew 9:37-38)
  • The less influence Satan will have on the people in church and for those being prayed for outside the church. (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4:4; John 17:15; Ephesians 6:12, 18; Exodus 17:9-13; Luke 22:31-32)
  • The more opportunities there will be to serve the Lord, and to be used by Him to advance the Kingdom of God. The opportunities will come because God is opening doors, and because of the increased vision in the life of Pastor and lay people. (Colossians 4:2-3; 1 Corinthians 16:9; Acts 14:27; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Revelation 3:7-8). We serve God when he opens a door. He opens doors when we’re close to him. He brings vision.
  • The stronger the marriages and families in the church will become. (Ephesians 3:14-16)

Our Immediate Opportunity for Corporate Prayer

One of the great blessings of LC3 is having a praying senior pastor who models and teaches us regularly on this topic. So, most people at LC3 probably know all the answers, intellectually. But, have you learned them experientially? Have you witnessed God break through hardened hearts after praying corporately? This is a blessing that you, your family, and your group should not miss.

The Christmas corporate prayer schedule is as follows. Bring your group to any of them. Maybe include a meal or party before or after.

November 26-29 Christmas Prayer Events

1) Sunday Concert of Prayer, 1:00PM, in the Gym, with lunch (with childcare)
2) Monday, 10AM
3) Monday, 7PM (with childcare)
4) Tuesday, 10AM
5) Tuesday, 7PM (with childcare)
6) Wednesday, 10AM

Second Question: “How Important is Prayer to Your Small Group?”

You know prayer is important to your small group. But, HOW important? What, for instance, would well-researched, doctoral-level, empirical data demonstrate on this topic?

Read this excerpt about the findings of such a Ph.D. project which set out to determine the most important factor in leading a small group.  (Not to give the answer away or anything, haha.) [Full article found here.]

A religious expert wanting to cut through the confusion of 613 Old Testament statutes came to Jesus and asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus gave his famous reply, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Mark 12:28-32).

Like the scribe who came to Jesus, I was a confused small-groups expert just a few years back. I kept hearing advice from a plethora of small-group authors and speakers, each promoting different methods and models. All of them were confident and persuasive, but their contradictory theories couldn’t all be right. Someone needed to do cut through the confusion by doing serious, scientific research on what really creates healthy, growing small groups. We needed to look past the models to discover the key underlying principles.

I wanted to get to the bottom of things. I wanted an answer to the question, “What’s the most important part of leading a small group?” I completed a Ph.D. degree and did extensive statistical research involving over 3,000 small-group leaders in more than 200 churches to probe that question, and the answer I found was surprisingly simple.

The most important dimension of leading a group is your prayer life—your connection to God as a leader.… Out of the hundreds of questions we asked, the leaders’ answers to the following questions yielded the most pivotal results:

  1. How consistently do you take time for prayer and Bible reading?
  2. Are you praying daily for your non-Christian friends to come to know Jesus?
  3. How many days in the past week did you pray for your small-group members?
  4. Do you pray for your group meetings in the days leading up to it?
  5. How much time on average do you spend in daily prayer and Bible reading?

Why Is Prayer So Important?

Why does the prayer life of the leader make such a difference in the health and growth of a small group? The research doesn’t tell us why, it only tells us that a very strong correlation exists. But I don’t think it’s hard to figure out.

Jesus said in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing”….

Basically, our research statistically proved John 15:5! If you want to see Jesus’ life flowing in your small group, stay connected to him!

Well, how do you measure on those five questions?

Brothers and sisters, you have influence in a church, a small group, or a ministry. Pray is important for you and for them. Draw close to your Heavenly Father and just witness the results in your people, your family, and your soul.

Praying for you right now,

Pastor Reg

Thanksgiving and Advent Resources, 2017

The holiday season is beginning! Oh, what joyous times!

I want to make sure you know what LCCC is providing household and small group leaders this year in regards to Thanksgiving and Advent.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Or shall I say “Thanksliving”? 🙂 If you missed Pastor Jim’s very practical Thanksgiving sermon, try to check it out before Thursday at our media player here – http://lc3.com/media/video-sermons.

If you could use Thanksgiving ideas/resources for your group or family this year, this Thanksgiving post on lc3life.com from 2010 still holds up pretty well. 🙂

The Advent of Jesus Christ (Christmas)

We started rolling out Advent resources in church last weekend so people can start preparing with them before the Advent season begins.

I have used these in small groups in the past, and am going to again this year with our current small group (in our December 3 meeting). Dwelling on Advent with your small group is a rich experience, whether it’s for an entire meeting or just a few moments during your Christmas party.

Here are the Advent Resources we are providing for you to explore and use in your groups and homes this Advent season.

  1. PDF“Five Steps to Create Meaningful Traditions During the Christmas Season”
  2. AudioTerrific interview by Pastor David and Kelli of John and Carissa Lewis (authors of resource #3…)
  3. blog photo 1BookFinding the Treasure in Christmas, by John and Carissa Lewis. While John is working on getting this book published he meanwhile gets it printed locally. This book has guided my family’s Advent season for four years and counting. We are happy to be selling them at church starting next week. They are not only beautiful, but the single best Advent resource I have found… and I have looked at every Advent resource I can get my hands on.
  4. Christmas Concert of Prayerblog photo 2this Sunday in the Gym, 12:45-2:00pm, and the five prayer hours that follow, next Monday – Wednesday. Bring your group! Corporate prayer is probably your most powerful Christmas resource of all.
  5. Upcoming Advent Sermon Series, “Let there be Light.” Details appear below on this picture of an invitation card, which are also available for you to take and handout around town. Let there be Light
  6. Last, but not least, my own family (all 7 of us!) is teaching a one-hour class this Sunday at 10:00am called “Getting the Most out of the Christmas Season.” I hope to pack out “Portable A” with people, props, stories, and Scriptures, and have a great time. You are all invited! Acts 3

 

 

 

Glory to God in the highest; His peace to you all,

Pastor Reg

 

Apologetics NOT? When to Defend and When to Proclaim

Apologetics-1

by Catlan Sardina, Lake City Small Group “Coach in Training,” Army Psychological Operations Officer,  seminary student, husband and father (not necessarily in that order)

God Questions2In the upcoming God Questions series, Lake City is going to explore the world of apologetics. This will be an exciting season of growth for many of us, and reassurance of the truth and validity of the Bible as God’s Word for all of us. Apologetics, the $10 word for “defending our faith,” is a great tool for any maturing Christian. But, as with any other tool, it is important to know what it is, what it’s not, and when to use it. As I’m sure the Great Carpenter would have told you, “Don’t use a saw on a job that calls for a drill.”

In this post, I would like to humbly suggest a point of reflection for all my brothers and sisters at Lake City: Don’t confuse apologetics and evangelism, they are different jobs and require different tools.

A great starting point for differentiating apologetics and evangelism is by clearly defining apologetics, what is it and what isn’t it. The passage of Scripture most often quoted to introduce apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15b:

…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, — English Standard Version

This is a passage often taken out of context, to turn apologetics into a commanded discipline. The context of 1 Peter 3 is suffering, where to place our hope when we face persecution, and what to do when we are persecuted. In this context, our greatest takeaway from verse 15 is that when things get terrible, believers should have so much hope that people ask us for a reason for it. Hope in the face of suffering is our greatest apologetic.

This seems almost unfathomable in our current cultural setting where Christians are prone towards becoming hopeless, downtrodden, and defensive every time America loses some of her Christian heritage. Just before the November 2016 elections, a writer submitted this question to Billy Graham:

I don’t see any hope for our nation. I think we’ve gotten so far from God that He’s just given up on us. That’s what happened to people in Old Testament times, wasn’t it?

Of course, Billy Graham answered the questioner by encouraging him to have hope, but this sort of thinking is not unique and does not portray the hope that Peter talked about in 1 Peter 3:15. Wouldn’t it be an amazing testimony if Lake City Community Church started The God Questions series by first preparing our hearts to have hope in times of persecution?

Imagine living out 1 Peter 3:15 as a community. Our hope in the grace of Jesus Christ would be longsuffering and unquenchable. People would see that we cannot be brought low, no matter how terrible the persecution or suffering. It would be in this context that we would provide a defense for the hope that is in us. This type of defense and witness already seems counter to the in-your-face brand of apologetics that tends to make Christians look like the defender of God. By the way, God doesn’t need a protector, we need God to be our protector.

If then, 1 Peter 3:15b does not primarily command us to prepare a logical, intellectual defense for the Christian faith, where does Scripture tell us to do this? The best passage in Scripture for understanding apologetics comes from 2 Corinthians 10:5.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, — English Standard Version

The context of this passage is far more appropriate for the discipline of apologetics. Here, Paul is talking to Christians about worldly opinions influencing other Christians. In this chapter (just two verses later) Paul talks about people being confident that they are Christ’s. In this context we derive the instruction for using logical arguments to destroy lofty opinions that may cause doubts within the Church. Did you notice the difference here? Reaching back to the analogy that apologetics is a tool, the “job” that most appropriately calls for apologetics is the moment when a Christian begins to have doubts about the validity of Scripture because of a worldly argument.

Our leadership at LC3 has already framed The God Questions series in a light very similar to this, with a goal of preventing our youth from doubting their faith in middle/high school. Bryan Osborne, from Answers in Genesis, showed some troubling figures about Christian children finding doubt and referenced the book titled Already Gone. Our church does an excellent job at discipleship. If we want to continue to take discipleship seriously, then we need to build up the hope in our less-mature believers. Apologetics is a great tool (alongside prayer, testimony, exposure to Scripture, and the power of the Holy Spirit) to assist in “destroying arguments of doubt to help take every thought captive to obey Christ.” One step further, Romans 14 proclaims that mature Christians have a responsibility to sacrifice our Christian liberties, time, and effort to disciple immature believers.

If apologetics is a hammer, the seeds of doubt within the Church are the nail. But, what about when dealing with lost-unregenerate people outside the Church? Well, now we aren’t dealing with the same problem, and if the problem doesn’t call for a hammer then we shouldn’t reach for it. It is important to remember that no one has ever been saved by a good argument, but only by the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is some Scripture for thought on why not to use apologetics for arguing with lost people:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing — 1 Corinthians 1:18a, English Standard Version

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles — 1 Corinthians 1:20b-23, English Standard Version

“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”… After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. — John 6:56-58, 66 English Standard Version

All three of these passages have something in common: lost people think the Gospel is foolish. Jesus did not try to make the Gospel more appealing and more believable, he made it powerful. In another passage, Jesus was sending out His disciples to evangelize and he explicitly told them not to prepare an apologetic-type message:

When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. — Matthew 10:19-20

A last passage of Scripture to help us when preaching the Gospel to the lost as opposed to combatting them with logical (albeit truthful) arguments comes from the Gospel according to Paul:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. — Romans 10:17, English Standard Version

Halfway through The God Questions series, when you are at work at the water cooler and you find yourself in a position to use your newfound apologetics Kung Fu, practice restraint. The Gospel that lives in us is not revealed through arguing over the age of the earth. The Gospel is not represented by a defensive know-it-all. The Gospel is represented daily by faithful, humble, submissive, persecuted, longsuffering, and HOPEFUL Christians. When your hope has stretched to the point that people around you have no choice but to ask for a reason, defend it with the Gospel. By your preaching of the Word of Christ they will hear, and by hearing they too will have faith. Use your hammer on a nail, but don’t try and repair a broken window by hammering it back together.

Our Fall 2017 Series: The God Questions

God Questions

This fall, we will explore some of the most difficult questions about God. This post contains the details!

About the Series

Have you ever ignored people’s difficult questions about God, telling them that they should not ask those questions, or to just have more faith? Maybe you haven’t. But, sadly, those responses are a major reason people cite for leaving the church. That does not need to be!

The God Questions is our six-week sermon series and small group study designed to address the toughest questions head-on.

These include:

God Questions1

  1. Is God real?
  2. Is the Bible really HIS Word, or just an ancient text?
  3. Is there really only one way to heaven?
  4. If God is so good, why is there so much bad in our world?
  5. Why do evolutionists and creationists disagree so heatedly?
  6. What happens when I die?

We have the confidence to believe God is big and loving enough to answer all of these, and many more that will surface. We will uncover truth, grow our own faith, and be equipped to answer others’ questions. We will do so all together in sermons and in relationship in small groups. Will you join us?

Calendar

  • Month of August – August is our busy and active month of identifying and equipping new Small Group Leaders. Is God calling you to lead or host a group?
  • Sunday, August 27 The God Questions Small Group Leader Connection and Training – In the Upper Gym, during 2nd service, 10:30AM-12:00PM
  • August 26/27 – Small Group signups begin, via small group catalogs in service, signup display in foyer, or church website)
  • ministry summit 2015Saturday, September 9 – LCCC Ministry Summit – An exciting day of equipping for several areas of ministry.  9:00AM-1:00PM. (Includes Apologetics training in preparation for the God Questions, and the Small Group Leader Training makeup session.)
  • Week of September  10 – Small Groups Kick Off! – The first two weeks are to get to know each other and set group expectations, dates, and goals.
  • September 16/17 Introduction to the God Questions 
  • September  23/24 – The God Questions #1
  • September  30 – LCCC Membership Class, 9:00AM – 12:45PM
  • September  30/Oct. 1The God Questions #2 
  • October 7/8 – The God Questions #3  
  • October 14/15 – The God Questions #4  
  • October 21/22 – The God Questions #5  
  • Oct. 28/29 – The God Questions #6  
  • November – mid-December – The series finishes six weeks before the fall semester ends, allowing leaders to schedule semester-end activities such as outreach and service projects, worship/communion nights, fun nights, planning for next semester, Thanksgiving Dinner, and a finale Christmas Party!

Books and DVDs

God Questions2

Small group leaders can pick up their group’s books and DVD beginning at the God Questions SG Leader Training on Sunday, August 27. Small group members can get their books as they join a group, starting August 26/27. Children’s and youth small groups will do this series, too, adding to the family experience!

How to Join a Group

Beginning on August 26/27, we will pass out the “small group catalogs” in the worship services, have a signup display in the foyer, and update the online “Group Finder” on lc3.com/connect/small-groups.

I am looking forward to all this fall holds for us, and praying for it now!

Pastor Reg

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18

16 Reasons Why People Suffer

Suffer

A few nights ago we experienced a rare Pacific Northwest house-shaking BOOM of thunder which led our daughters quickly out of their bedroom in search for comfort, and answers. Their mom and I reminisced about our developed fondness for thunderstorms growing up in Indiana and Florida, and comforted them with a satisfying scientific lesson and assurance of God’s sovereignty.

But, in the morning, our second oldest wanted MORE answers!

She said, “Dad, God makes the lightening that comes out of the sky and kills people. WHY WOULD HE DO THAT!?” I replied, “And, there, my lovely daughter, you have asked the number one question that keeps people away from God and struggling through life. Why do people suffer?”

16 Reasons

Why do we suffer? My dad tells the story that one of his seminary professors in the 1960’s challenged his class to study the Scriptures to determine that very thing – why God allows suffering in the world. My dad, the young pastor, concluded from his study that Scripture identified five basic reasons why people suffer.  He placed those five on a small piece of paper in his Bible as he visited people with some physical or emotional affliction. Over years of more study his small piece of paper grew into a detailed chart. He ultimately concluded that God’s Word gives 16 general reasons why people suffer in this world.

Dad’s journey was years. I want everyone to have this in their hands right now. So, I have put his chart below, and have attached a printable Word document here. It is not a simple question, but it is a vital question for us to answer; and, one which will lead to glories, faith, peace, assurance, and convictions of many kinds. Please consider these 16 reasons prayerfully, and research the Scriptures for yourselves.

Suffering Chart

Notice that there are some things God holds as more important than our comfortable circumstances – His glory, the fulfillment of His redemptive plan to eradicate evil, and our relationship with Him. By His grace He shares His glory with His children. In future glorification in heaven believers attain likeness to the glorified Christ and are freed from both physical and spiritual defect. We will never again experience bodily decay, death or illness, and will never again struggle with sin. We will see God as He is, face to face, and walk and reign and rule with Him forever.

What About Right Now?

Right now, in the face of your struggles today, the delight of knowing Him and being His brings joy, peace, satisfaction, and contentment in this life, in all circumstances. If you grasp these truths, you will experience routine praise. You will not be shocked at any bad thing. You will say to suffering, the lower you lay me the higher you raise me.

Or, you might waste it. In an article called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer,” John Piper and David Powlison identify several mistakes that can make us waste God’s plan in our suffering. I’m going to change the word “cancer” in these to “sufferings” because they apply to all. They write:

  1. You will waste your suffering if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.
  2. You will waste your suffering if you think that “beating” it means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.
  3. You will waste your suffering if you grieve as those who have no hope.
  4. You will waste your suffering if you treat sin as casually as you did before.
  5. You will waste your suffering if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and the glory of Christ.

Are You a Child of God?

But, it all starts with salvation from sin. Whether you are in a time of prosperity and comfort right now, or a time of suffering, pain, and disappointment, God says that we are all sinners and stand condemned without repentant trusting faith in Jesus Christ. But, Jesus suffered for our sins so that He may save us from our sins. So, don’t wait any longer. Repent of your sins and call on Him for salvation today. He will answer.

Considering the hardest parts of life, together, with patience and endurance, for God’s glory and our joy,

Reg

P.S. Volumes have been written and discussed on this subject, but in your searching for answers I would most recommend the resources on http://www.desiringgod.com under a search for “suffering.”

Reg’s Doctoral Church Planting Presentation

grad 1

Welcome to lc3life.com! If that sounds like a new website, it is. Kind of. We recently changed the name of the long running “lakecitysmallgroups.com” to “lc3life.com” primarily for the purpose of featuring new topics such as church planting, missions, and others which may come.

But, I haven’t been able to post here until my dissertation on church planting was completed. I am happy to say… it is now completed!

So, for my inaugural post on the topic of church planting, please enjoy one of these two videos:

grad 2

Video 1 contains my entire doctoral dissertation defense/presentation, held on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at Lake City Community Church in Lakewood, WA. The video includes an introduction from Corban University Doctor of Ministry Director, Dr. Leroy Goertzen, and a time for questions and answers at the end. The 32-page presentation handout can be downloaded on PDF right here – PRESENTATION – Handout.

The title of my dissertation is, “PREPARING TO PLANT SUCCESSFUL CHURCHES: DISCOVERING PREPARATION COMMONALITIES IN VIABLE CHURCH PLANTS IN WESTERN WASHINGTON STATE.” The entire 300+ page dissertation will be available for consumption in a couple months.

Video 2 is an 8-minute clip from the full video above in which I discuss laying the theological foundation for church planting. Without that foundation, the research and the rest of our conversation doesn’t much matter.

In the weeks, months, and years to come, I plan to add content from my research over the last three years to this blog, as well as new discoveries as Lake City Community Church proceeds on our church planting adventures, as God leads and directs.

The conversation has begun. The prayers continue. Please join both!

For His glory and our joy,

Reg

P.S. If you are reading this before May 7, you are invited to Graduation Open House at LCCC on Sunday, May 7, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. We want to thank the church for being so supportive, and celebrate the conclusion of one chapter and the opening of many new chapters ahead.

 

Winter/Spring ’17 Events

Small Group Mission Banner 8 logo1

Each Winter/Spring Semester we ask, “What extra opportunities should we create for our leaders who want to gather with other leaders this semester?” These gatherings have always been enjoyable and successful.

While these events are not required for leadership like the fall and January training sessions, we think leaders, potential leaders, and those you are discipling should come!

So, here’s what we have for this semester, for leaders, members, and everyone interested in connecting with one of our “spiritual families” at LCCC.

Upcoming Small Group Dates

  1. ANY time is a great time to connect in a Lake City Small Group. The groups marked “Room for More” on our website actually want you to join them right now!
  2. Mid-Semester Leader Fun Gathering, “Galvanize” – Friday, March 10, 6:00-8:00pm. Leaders, mark your calendars now. This will be a good one. More info and an e-vite coming soon.
  3. Prayer Meeting for Small Groups #1 – Sunday, March 12, 10:00am, Library. Open to anyone who wants to pray for our small groups.
  4. Prayer Meeting for Small Groups #2 – Sunday, April 30, 10:00am, Library. Open to anyone who wants to pray for our small groups.
  5. Easter – Sunday, April 16. Kicking off at least two exciting new groups during the week after Easter, open for anyone to join.
  6. June Small Group Leader End-of-Year Celebration! – Wednesday, June 14, on the lake, for all SG Leaders and families, 6-8pm.

Upcoming #LC4Malawi, Cram the Container Dates

cram-the-container-2017-slide-picture

(Our all-small groups and church combined service project this semester)

  1. Collection Date (2 of 3) – Feb. 18/19, before and after all worship services
  2. Packing and Sorting Party (1 of 3) – Saturday, Feb. 18, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Need 30-40 people; great for individuals, families, and small groups to do together)
  3. Collection Date (2 of 3) – Feb. 18/19, before and after all worship services
  4. Packing and Sorting Party (2 of 3) – Saturday, March 4, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Need 30-40 people)
  5. Packing and Sorting Party (3 of 3) – Saturday, March 25, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Need 40-50 people)

Other Upcoming Church Dates

  1. LCCC Membership Class: Saturday, Feb. 25, 9am-12:45pm (Encourage your members to join or just discover more about our church.)
  2. S. H.A.P.E. Class: Saturday March 18, 9am – 1:00pm – Discover how and why God made you for His purposes in your life.
  3. Women’s Retreat – April 28-30.

Fall 2016 Testimonies (and Early 2017 Dates)

happiness-website

testimony-who-says-money-cant-buy-you-happiness

Who says you can’t buy happiness!!?? 🙂 

Fall 2016 Testimonies

Our small groups’ mission has remained, “To make disciples who make disciples in relational environments.” God blessed this fall in uncountable ways!

With the culmination of the Happiness Series and other activities of the fall semester it was good to hear from different groups about how God used their time together to grow them in Christ, develop their relationships, and serve the world.

Enjoy these testimonies and pictures!

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgThe top experience this fall to me is witnessing the camaraderie forming between the members. No one truly knew each other (minus the leaders) as we started this journey together. Yet, everyone has become family in such a short time frame. We often meet as a group outside of small group; sometimes it’s only a few of us and other times it’s more of us, but I love seeing how we are constantly living life together. (Underwoods)

testimony-underwood

Underwoods – Christmas Party!

testimony-underwoodsantarun

Underwood Group – Volunteering at the Tacoma Santa Run

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgWe sang the song like never before, “Trust and Obey………for there’s no other way to be HAPPY in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”  The last Happiness group meeting was one of the best sharing times ever, when all participated and the discussion took off. (Tchobanoffs)

testimony-tchobanoff-with-girls

Little visitors singing with the Tchobanoff small group

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgOne change is to be more consistently and efficiently praying our list of concerns and praises. We used to get off on tangents when requests were new or reviewed, but that is going better now with fuller participation. (Anonymous)

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgOf course, a highlight would be having the Reg and the Overstreet girls (G, L, and S) visit us during our meeting and help us celebrate Josine V’s birthday (first picture). As the Happiness series ended, all brought pictures of their family to share. It was great to see the faces of those who are held dear to our group members (second picture).We enjoyed Christmas caroling at our member Jim M’s home. (Higbees)

testimony-higbee-partychris-small-gouptestimony-higbee-party1

 

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgWe shared a Christmas Potluck dinner with their group.  Their special guest, Marlene Etter, shared about her last year in Niger and her ministry next year in Chad. We also sponsored a girls’ and guys’ night out.  The guys met at Tower Lanes  to show their expertise on the Putt Putt Course.  The Girls met for game night at the Reynolds.

One of our members became a US citizen last month and we had a happy party and cake to celebrate with her.We also take 15 minutes each week for people to share about themselves so we get to know them better. It has helped us get closer to each other. Well, that and the food and fellowship at the end of the evening.

We took on two missions this fall. One to provide meals to a couple that were both too ill to cook. We filled their freezer. Second was to support Eddie Johnson through Young Life.

We ended the year with a potluck at our house. I asked Marlene Etter to talk for 15 minutes about her mission as a start to our supporting her next year. It was a lot of fun and well received.

We will meet again on January 11, 2017 to begin a study on the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

We are very close spiritually and have grown to be friends. It is rare that anyone misses a meeting. (Snyders)

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Snyder’s Christmas Potluck

 

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgOur small group has been amazing!  We are enjoying hosting and co-leading with friends. Our top experiences thus far have been meeting new families, hearing each other’s testimonies, and celebrating several birthdays during our fellowship time.  We are so thankful to be “doing life” together with this incredible group! (Camerons/Hanleys)

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Cameron/Hanley’s Worship Time

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgThe big moment for us, we will be putting homeless survival bags together this Monday, at my mom’s, Tharon Kirby!  Excited we get to finish the project we started last Spring! And, now the project has expanded to include veterans. It is now called “project-253“, click for the details! (Bakkens)

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgWe completed our first outreach project together when we packed Welcome Bags for the annual LC3 Harvest Carnival. It was so much fun and I look forward to completing more outreach projects as a team as the semester progresses. (Underwoods)

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgWe collectively wrote anniversary and birthday cards to all the missionaries and their families who celebrated these events during September and October. Each member signed them. (Grishams)

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgCollege/Young Adults – Love em all. We have had several outings, including the great snowy Mount Rainier excursion. (Massey)

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small-groups-logo-pro.jpgMeeting Laban’s wife and family although we haven’t gotten close for them yet. I think our whole group is looking forward to embracing them in our group. Our group is going to support Andy and Nikki Gray. We bought them a Seahawks 12th Man flag and Elsie and I gave it to them when we saw them in Quebec. We will also be doing their quarterly newsletter for them. Our group seems excited to have a small part in what they are doing. Our group hosted the Mburus, missionaries from Kenya to much of Africa, and part of the Global Missions Team, for dinner. (Walmers)

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Walmer group, hosting Mburus and Missions Team

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgExciting Homeless Ministry Project Report from Leader, Ali Cameron: 

For the past few years, my ministry partners and I host a Thanksgiving feast to our homeless friends. In past years, there have only been a couple of us to organize, buy, cook, and prepare all the items necessary to put on a huge feast. This year, my small group blessed the team and me by providing all of the side dishes, drinks and desserts! The feast went so smoothly. Our small group had been praying into this event and it couldn’t have been done so easily without their generosity and support! 

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Our friends on the street were so grateful to have home-cooked dishes and there were many compliments! Many also said that this would be the only Thanksgiving they would be having this year. A humbling statement. We also had so much food; enough for the 70-80 folks who showed up! Last year we ran out, but this year we had plenty and were able to send home to-go plates! A huge blessing for them! (Thank you again to my fellow small group members for your support and help!)

Our small group coach Eric V.B.S. came and shared a message from Luke 19, the story of Zaccheus. The Holy Spirit really gave him the words (because he spoke directly to where everyone was and this was his first time being part of mine and my friends’ ministry– definitely only a thing God could do!) and for the first time ever at the park with our friends, they were completely sober, silent and listening! It was amazing. (Thank you, Eric, for being a vessel of the Holy Spirit!)testimony-homeless1

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One of my Muslim friends was there and heard the message and now she wants to study the Bible! She was so happy to be around Christians. She was welcomed by all and made part of conversations that aren’t usual for a young, Muslim woman to have. After Eric’s message, she said “I want to be like him.” She wants to know God’s truth and share it with others! Please continue to pray and do spiritual battle for her. She will have much opposition (seen and unseen) if she starts seeking the True and Living God. Her last words to me today were “I am SO happy!” The only way to explain this is she experienced the love of Christ today.

 

More Great Moments:

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgThe best part is having a completely full house every Wednesday night. The fellowship has been wonderful! (Strongs)

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The Strong group has plenty of fun

 

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgRay says, “One of the perks of being a Small Group Coach is visiting the groups!”

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Coach Ray: “Small Groups Coach in Cougar’s Clothing”

 

 

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Men surrounding the dessert

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The Young group catered the Veterans Day Men’s Breakfast, with Stu Weber

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Rovinski group takes in Zoo Lights

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgThe husbands of our small group secretly planned a mom’s night out ♡ We had a lovely dinner at Pattaya and then got artsy at “The Painted Plate” in Olympia with reservations made by the men. We had a blast! [Picture is missing our dear friend Ellen who joined us for dinner] (Garwackis)

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small-groups-logo-pro.jpgTwo of our small group coaches went on a missions trip to Malawi in October. Coach Eric Von Barnau Sythoff (VBS) and his wife Julie operate a wonderful 501c3 organization there, the Passion Center for Children. Coach Brad Criswell joined Eric on a trip that was life-changing for him. Brad is now leading the LC4Malawi – Cram the Container Project, which launches on New Year’s Eve!

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Dropping off Eric and Brad at Sea-Tac

small-groups-logo-pro.jpgOur coaches families celebrated the end of this fantastic Fall 2016 Semester with a Christmas party, caroling, and praising God for this ministry we get to share with all of you at Lake City Community Church!

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Coaches Families concluding the year with Christmas Caroling

Going Forward:Early Winter/Spring 2017 Dates

As groups break for the holidays for a well-deserved rest, here are the important dates that will kickoff the next semester. 

  • Saturday/Sunday, December 31/January 1 – Small Group Signups begin (catalogs in worship services, small group listings at foyer table and church website)
  • December 31 – April 1 – Dates for #LC4Malawi – Cram the Container for Malawi
  • Sunday, January 8 – SG Leader Vision/Training Session, 10:00-11:15AM, LCCC Gym (NOTE: There is a makeup session at the Summit – see below.)
  • January 15 – 21 – Official SG Kickoff Week!
  • Saturday, January 21 – Church Family Summit, 9:00AM-1:00PM (Four hours of workshops for the entire church family. The small group leader training makeup session will be one 50 minute workshop.)
  • Saturday, February 25 – LCCC Membership Class

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Everyone!

Pastor Reg

Planning Your Next Semester: Winter/Spring 2017

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Praise God, our groups are winding down a memorable Fall 2016 Semester. This post is to help leaders pray & plan for next semester.

How NOT to Start Your Next Semester

So, let’s start with how NOT to start your next semester.

A typical question leaders are asking is: “What curriculum should I kickoff the Winter/Spring semester with?” My preferred answer would be… NONE!

This goes back to why our groups exist. Are these groups Bible studies alone? No, definitely not. But, experience teaches that if a group launches their term immediately with the new Bible study curriculum on the first week, then that group will become forever locked into the “study” mold and mentality, as if that is all you exist to do, no matter what you try to do later.

The Solution: Start your semester with some of the other vital small group elements which often get crowded out:

  • Start with a meal or fun night. You are a spiritual family, after all. Set the tone to enjoy each other!

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  • Start with a worship, prayer, and/or communion night, seeking God’s guidance and setting a worshipful pattern for your year.
  • Start with a service/outreach project, or series of them, declaring: “We are going to be the hands and feet of Jesus!”
  • Start with sharing a few personal salvation testimonies, to celebrate God’s grace in our lives and get to know each other well.group-worship
  • Start with having the kids involved in worship, so they see Jesus Christ as the center for your group’s existence.
  • Then, start your curriculum, having become close friends and spiritual siblings; soul mates and teammates. We have 16-20 weeks in the Winter/Spring Semester. No need to rush into a curriculum, there is plenty of time to do it all!

Provided Calendar: Be ready to pull out that Winter/Spring Calendar with your group to plan out the entire semester together – host locations, fun days, weeks off, trips together, meal plans… whatever you can plan. It is found in the first couple pages of the Leader and Member Toolkits.

NOW, Choose the Right Curriculum

currSince our foundation is God’s Word, a good curriculum or Bible study plan is a vital tool. Come browse our many curriculums in the church library, where you can access and check out materials.

And, don’t forget that you can help us keep building up our curriculum library, with…

“The Lake City Offer”

If you are interested in using a curriculum we do not currently have, I will buy the leader book and DVD (if there is one) for you if you will return it when finished, to add to our library. Your group members will just buy their own participant guides, if there is one. This offer helps future groups and eliminates any hesitation based on the cost of a study!
NOTE: A list of our available and recommended curriculums can be found in the 2016-17 Leader Toolkit, page 29.

Important Dates

Here are a few important dates for your calendars:

  • *Leader Training: As always, there is one required January training session for all leaders, offered twice, for your scheduling convenience:
    • Option 1 – Sunday, January 8, 10:00-11:15AM.
    • Option 2 – For those who cannot attend the January 8 session, come to the makeup session on Saturday, January 21, during one of the 50-minute workshops of the Church Family Summit. Attend just this workshop, or better the entire half-day seminar.

*This year’s training will focus on “The Why?”, local and global small group missions, conflict resolution, key winter/spring dates, and more.

  • Signups: Signups will officially be open to new members starting on Dec. 31/Jan. 1.
  • Kickoff: Winter/Spring Semester officially kicks off the week of January 15. Be prepared to welcome new people, if possible.  

FINAL THOUGHTS:

All Summit workshops and small group training sessions are always open to everyone. Families and discipleship groups are welcome to attend together.

The Winter/Spring Semester runs through early June, so it’s a bit longer than the Fall Semester, leaving you room to do more things and have more fun and transformative experiences.

Our mission and vision remain the same:

Small Group Mission Banner 8 logo1

May God be glorified in our ministry,

Pastor Reg

What Does It Take to Lead a Small Group in 2016-2017?

This “Small Group Leader Job Description” post has been updated for 2016.

Are you considering using your God-given gifts to lead in the LCCC Family?

Great!

But, that raises some questions, like: “What does it take to be a Lake City Small Group Leader?” and:“What does leading a small group involve?”

First, read our mission and vision statements for Lake City Small Groups. These statements are the lens through which we try to see everything:

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Now, here (in green) is the official position description for the significant role of leading a small group, including qualifications and “job description”:

Lake City Small Group Leader Description

 Small Group Leader’s Qualifications:

  1. Be a member of the church, or be in membership process.
  2. Attend the leader trainings, in fall and January.
    • Small Group Leader Fall Series Material Meeting is Sunday, August 24, 10:50AM (during 2nd service) in the Gym. It is primarily for small group leaders, but open to everyone.
    • The LC3 Ministry Summit is Saturday, Sept. 13, 9am-1pm. It is for ALL ministry leaders of LCCC, including small group leaders.
    • January training date TBD. 
  3. Be approved and blessed by small groups pastor and an elder.

Small Group Leader’s Job Description:

(Trying to do less than this will fail almost every time.  Co-leaders or “Inner Circles” will share this load with you.)

Time Commitment:  Prayer and preparation before the group; the group meeting time; relationship-building and discipleship time outside the group.

Length of Commitment: Semester and/or entire 9 month ministry year. 

Primary Roles:

  1. Model someone growing spiritually.
  2. Lead the group meetings and ministry, and delegate responsibilities to group members as they are gifted.
  3. Build relationships by regularly contact group members between meetings (through phone calls, emails, cards, coffee, invite for dinner, notes on Facebook, etc.)  Follow up with absent members to let them know they were missed (Think “shepherd” – Luke 15:1-7).
  4. Assess where each of your members is spiritually and what they need to grow.
  5. Meet with your coach monthly.
  6. Disciple and raise up new generations of leaders, as you are able.
  7. Complete the simple, occasional evaluation reports requested by small groups pastor and elders.

 

Tools Provided for LeadersToolkit

1.  As the small groups pastor, I or a coach sits down with everyone who expresses interest in leading or co-leading our small groups. We will come prepared with some resources like our Lake City Small Groups TOOLKIT, the semester calendar, answers to frequently asked questions, and an enthusiasm to answer your additional questions.

2.  Because of the importance of this role, all leaders are designated a pastor (that’s me) and a coach who will walk with you through your growth as a leader and as a follower of Jesus.

3.  Gatherings for extra training (if requested), prayer, and fun throughout the year!

4.  Electronic sources like weekly emails, social media, and this blog are great tools for enhancing many aspects of small group leadership.

(Stay in touch with everyone throughout the year by “liking” the Lake City Small Groups page on Facebook!)

How to Become a Leader

As you can see, these are attainable qualifications and expectations. We are happy with our bar for leadership – not too high and not too low.
       “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” (1 Timothy 3:1 ESV)
Are you ready to step up to this noble task of leading a group, or “under-shepherding” some of flock in Jesus’  church? Then here’s what you need to do, right now…

Join our great team of leaders this year, by:Happiness cover

  1. Letting me know of your interest, at reg.overstreet@lc3.com or 253-582-8040, or by marking your interest on a Communication Card in the weekend services
  2. Attending the August 28 Leader Training and “Happiness” Materials Meeting
  3. (Or) Attending the Sept. 10 LC3 Ministry Summit
Blessings on our stewardship of leading God’s people,
Pastor Reg
Lake City Small Groups: Making disciples who make disciples in relational environments.
MOST of our leaders at the End-of-Year Celebration, June, 2014

Some of our leaders at the End-of-Year Celebration, June, 2014