Planning your Next Small Group Semester: Have You Thought of Everything?

Plan, 2015-1

Our groups are winding down the Fall, 2014 Semester. Finish well, groups! 

This post is to help our small group leaders as you pray and plan for next semester; to be prepared and as proactive as you can be to lead your group well. 

Winter/Spring, 2015 Calendar

Calendar - generic

Click for a printable LCCC Winter/Spring Calendar Template that gives general church information.

How NOT to Start Your Next Semester

There is a common way to start a new small group semester. And then there is a better way.

The Problem: If a group starts their semester right off with the new Bible study curriculum, they will be 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: As you (and your Inner Circle) create your calendar, start your semester with some of the other items which often get crowded out:

  • Start with a meal or fun night. You are a spiritual family, after all. Set the tone to actually enjoy each other!
  • Start with a worship/prayer 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 your personal salvation testimonies, to celebrate God’s grace in our lives and get to know each other well.
  • 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!


NOW, Choose the Right Curriculum

See our entire small group curriculum library list, here.

Since our foundation is God’s Word, a good curriculum makes an effective tool. Come browse and check out some of our many curriculums. NOTE: Our ever-expanding small group curriculum library will not be on a table in my office for browsing this year (as pictured). This year, we are moving to the church library, where you can access and check out materials more easily (and I don’t have to climb over the table to get to my desk all winter!)

curr, 2013

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!

Important Training and Kickoff Dates

Here are a few important dates for your calendars:

  • Training: As always, there is one required January training session, offered twice, for your scheduling convenience: 
    1. Option 1 – Offered as a workshop at the Church Family Summit, Saturday, January 10, 9:00AM-1:00PM.
    2. Option 2 – For those who cannot attend the Church Family Summit, come to the make up session on Sunday, January 18, during 2nd service (10:50-12:10pm).
  • Kickoff: Winter/Spring Semester kicks off the week of January 18, after a few weeks of signups. Be prepared to welcome new people, if possible.  

NOTES: 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 transformative experiences.

May God be glorified in our ministry,

Pastor Reg


What Does It Take To Lead a Small Group (in 2012-2013)?

I posted this “small group leader job description” last year, but have updated for 2012!

If you are reading this, there is a good chance you are considering using your God-given gifts to build up the LCCC Family (Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:12). To that, I say, “Praise God!” He will reward your obedience and bless many people through this adventure.

What does it take to be a Lake City Small Groups Leader? What does small group leadership include? Here are the qualifications and description for this important position:

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 two leader trainings, in fall and January. (This year, the Leadership Summit is Saturday, Sept. 15, 9am-1pm. It is for all leaders of LCCC, and will include workshops specifically for small group leaders.)
  3. Be approved and blessed by small groups pastor and an elder.

Small Group Leader’s Job Description:

(This is what it is going to take to lead a successful small group. Trying to do it with less effort will fail almost every time.)

Time Commitment: A few hours per week of prayer and preparation, group meeting time, and relationship-building time outside the group.

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

Primary Roles:

  1. Be a model of someone who desires to become like Jesus.
  2. Delegate responsibilities to group members so they can use their gifts for the benefit of the group.
  3. Lead and/or delegate the group meetings.
  4. 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.
  5. Disciple and raise up new helpers and future leaders.
  6. Complete the simple reports and surveys requested by small groups pastor.

Tools for Leaders

1.  As the small groups pastor, I sit down personally with everyone who expresses interest in leading, co-leading or helping out with our small groups. I always come prepared with our Lake City Small Groups Toolkit (a collection of our best training materials over the past six years), and an enthusiasm to answer the frequently asked questions and the intriguing questions that are new to me.

2.  Because of the importance of this role, all leaders are designated a pastor (that’s me), an elder who prays for and is available to them, and a leader mentor (if applicable), for assistance, encouragement and accountability of their own growth as a disciple-making disciple of Jesus.

3.  This blog is also an ever-increasingly more comprehensive quick-reference for many areas of small group leadership.

4.  And, stay in touch with everyone throughout the year by “liking” the Lake City Small Groups page on Facebook!

Become a Leader

As you can see, these are very attainable qualifications and expectations. We are happy with where we have set the bar for leadership – not too high and not too low.   You can sign up to become one of our great team of small group leaders this year, by:
  • Contacting me at or 253-582-8040
  • Marking your interest on a Communication Card in the weekend services
  • Attending the Sept. 1 *Leaders “Heroes” Curriculum Meeting and Leadership Summit Makeup Pre-Session
  • Attending the (date TBD)  *Small Group Connection
  • Attending the Sept. 15 *Lake City Leadership Summit
*More info about each of these will be available soon, and will be linked to this blog.
Blessings on our stewardship of leading God’s people,
Pastor Reg

Finishing the Small Group Year Strong, 2012

(This post is an updated version of last year’s similar post on finishing strong, with the same two headings, but new content; plus a great new ACTIVITY!)

The 2011-2012 ministry year is just about to conclude. Here’s how to have your best finish possible!

The two most important things to do in your last meetings together are “Celebrate Your Past” and “Plan Your Future.”

I.    Celebrate Your Past

“What is rewarded gets repeated.”  I have found this popular statement very true. So, what took place in your group members’ lives over the year that you consider a “win” and that you would like to see repeated?  Did anyone trust Christ; get baptized; have a child receive Jesus; live faithfully through a trial; share their faith; pray faithfully; grow spiritually; ask a lot of questions or contribute well in discussion; have perfect attendance (one of our leaders even gives an attendance reward – very fun).  Whatever the wins were for your fellow members, acknowledge them!

How about the wins for your group? Did you grow together; serve together; help each other through a difficult time, move or transition? Did your kids see you praying together? Did you give support to a missionary, or be the hands and feet of Jesus yourselves? Did anyone lead discussion for the first time, or do a great job planning your social calendar? Is anyone going to step out and lead their own group next year?

These lists go on and on. Brainstorm with your spouse, assistant or all group members together what your wins were, and then celebrate them together!  If you do, they are more likely to get repeated and built upon in the future.

II.    Plan Your Future

After celebrating your time together over the last year, it is vital to take the next step and plan your group’s future. Everyone needs an idea of your group’s plans for the summer and for next year.

So, get out the calendars and plan your activities this summer. Here’s a great idea list to start the brainstorming.  Be sure to include LCCC’s Family Camp – the Family Reunion, on August 17-19 (click for details!)

For one more good resource, see last year’s post “Maximizing Summer”.



A Recommended End-Of-Year Activity – “The THANK YOU CHALLENGE”

MATERIALS NEEDED: Bucket, and a small item (balls, stuffed animals, etc.) for each person 

INSTRUCTIONS (Print these):

1.  Sit in a circle with the empty bucket in the center. 

2.  Each person is given a ball. Someone will volunteer to go first. that person will SHARE something with the entire group that was meaningful to them from the year together.  This could be something they learned about themselves, something God has convicted them of or is calling them to change or do, something they appreciated about another group member, etc. Try to be genuine and personal.

3.  The person who shared will then toss a ball to someone else in the group – anyone. The person who tossed the ball must then look at that person and do one of the following: 

  • Apologize for something they’ve done to them in the past and ask for forgiveness.
  • Encourage or affirm them. For example, say, “A strength I see in you is _______.”
  • Challenge them (in a personal growth area, leadership issue, etc.)

4.  Now the person who received the ball only says, “Thank you,” and drops the ball in the bucket. Let me emphasize the ONLY thing the person can say is, “Thank you.” 

5.  Another person then volunteers to go next and follows the same pattern. Please note that the person who caught the ball does NOT need to go next, but everyone should have a turn. 

6.  When everyone has finished, either end with some time in prayer, or, if time, allow anyone to go a second time. By this time the group’s walls will be down and a good spirit of Christian fellowship will be felt. Make note of how nice this would be to experience regularly as we continue life together. 

I would love to hear about your group’s experience with the “Thank You Challenge.” Give me a call, email or post on the comments here for all to see.

Blessings on your homes,

Pastor Reg 

New Curriculum Ideas, 2010-2011

800 books are published in the U.S. every single day, and doesn’t it seems like half of them are Bible studies? How is a small group leader to keep up with which curriculums are doctrinally accurate and effective to change lives?  To assist you in that endeavor, I have assembled a small collection of the most recommended and approved options for our small groups, which you’ll find below, and also attached last year’s list and the list of curriculums LCCC Small Groups have used over the past three years.

NOTE: To offset your cost and build our small groups resource library, we will purchase the DVDs and/or leader guides. Contact me to place the orders!

New Suggestions for 2010-2011

I. RECOMMENDED PUBLISHERS I recommend anything from these following organizations. Browse their small group curriculums at the following links:

A.        Matthias Media – This link shows an explanation of their small group resource philosophy, and leads you to several various types of resources:


B.        Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) – Small Group book resources listed at this link:

C.        Navigators/NavPress

-Bible book studies:

-Small group studies:

D.        LifeWay –



The Lake City Offer: If you choose a title that we do not have in stock in our library, we will buy the DVD and Leader Guide for you. (Participants purchase their own accompanying study guides.)

Lane and Tripp: How People Change; DVD. 12 Sessions

Tripp and Powlison: Changing Hearts Changing Lives; DVD. 13 Sessions

Mark Driscoll, Vintage Jesus

Tim Keller, The Prodigal God


Tim Keller, The Reason for God

Francis Chan, The Forgotten God

David Platt, Radicalcontact Pastor Reg about obtaining books, sermon videos, and study notes and…

Todd Phillips, No Plan B


Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?

Philip Yancey, The Bible Jesus Read

Deeper Connections, The Miracles of Jesus (Parables and Prayers of Jesus also available)


XPLORE: 6 Lessons Exploring God’s Word, God’s World and God’s Work – The Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course recommends this small groups study book for people who cannot take the full 15 week Perspectives course. I have a copy if you’d like to look at it.  Looks pretty good!

When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Yourself, by Brian Fikkert

Curriculum – Recommended List 09-10

Curriculums our groups have used


Thanksgiving Ideas for Small Groups

You are probably planning at to spend at least a little time focusing on Thanksgiving in your next small group meeting. But what do you do?  Here are several ideas/resources for you!

Ice Breaker

Ice Breakers are a fun way to get everyone talking. Write something to be thankful for on a small sheet of paper and tape it to the back of everyone who comes in the door. They must ask yes or no questions from other guests to guess what is written on the paper.

Get the Whole Family Involved 

Age-specific ways to help your kids experience the meaning behind the celebration on Thanksgiving Day. by Lynne M. Thompson

Sometimes it’s a challenge to convince children that Thanksgiving Day is really not all about the food. Sure there’s turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, and pie. Oh yeah, don’t forget the pie! But hidden inside this palate-driven holiday is an opportunity to teach the meaning behind the celebration. It is, after all, a day to remember God and give thanks.

The scriptures are filled with passages calling us to maintain a thankful heart. From Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,” to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians urging them to “give thanks in all circumstances” (5:18). It was this latter verse that sustained the Pilgrims, venturing to the New World, who ushered in the Thanksgiving Day celebration.

In the winter of 1620, Pilgrims, traveling by sea, settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts. They came for religious freedom — a desire to worship God and live according to Holy Scripture. But the country they found was bleak and uninviting, with several inches of snow already on the ground. Of the 102 passengers aboard the ship, the Mayflower, nearly half died during the first winter of the “great sickness.” Yet, according to settler Edward Winslow, they were grateful to God for his provision in their lives. A year later, the group celebrated with a feast of thanksgiving.

So, this year as the guests arrive, in addition to a bountiful meal, try these fun-filled age-appropriate activities that will direct children, and adults, back to the true meaning of the holiday, and also create Thanksgiving Day memories that will last a lifetime.

Ages 0-3

For the very young, holidays are about the nurturing and extra attention received from grandparents and other close family and friends. Try to provide time for fun interaction, with songs and hymns that celebrate the season. Provide toddlers with some crayons and color books, and invite grandparents to color along. Be sure to include The Pumpkin Patch Parable, a picture book by Liz Curtis Higgs, for an after supper story time.

Ages 4-7

Make your young guests feel special when Thanksgiving dinner is served atop a custom-made tablecloth they designed. Break out the color crayons, or markers, and allow each child to draw their own artwork depicting a thankful day. Later, play a game of “Alphabet Thanks,” where children draw from a bowl of letters, and then tell God thanks for something that begins with the letter they picked.

Ages 8-12

This age group is ready to put the spirit of thanksgiving into practice by canvassing their neighborhood, collecting canned food items for those in need. For fun on Thanksgiving Day, have this age group use a video camera to film their own home movie about giving thanks. Guests can be entertained as they view the finished work on the TV during dessert. Or, for the more musically minded, have the kids borrow the tune from their favorite pop or rap song and replace the lyrics with a seasonal message.

Age 13-18

This age is perfect for hands-on community service. Visit the local rescue mission or nearby retirement home, and have them pitch in by serving the holiday meal. Another fun idea is to invite these teens to compete in a pie-baking contest, with Gram and Gramps deciding the winning recipe.


Our Thanksgiving holiday began in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln issued a presidential proclamation calling for a national day of thanksgiving. It is simply awesome to reflect on the God-fearing Christian heritage of our country. Teach it to your children. Here is the text of that proclamation:

“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

“In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

“Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore.

“Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”


A Thanksgiving Cookbook by Mrs. Geraghty’s Kindergarten Class
NOTE: Mrs. Geraghty will not be responsible for medical bills resulting from the use of this cookbook.
~Alan – Turkey
First you shoot it and then you cut it. And then you put it in the oven and cook it for 10 minutes and 20 degrees. You put it on plates and then you eat it.
~Jeremy – Turkey
You buy the turkey and take the paper off. Then you put it in the refrigerator and take it back out and cut it with a knife and make sure all the wires are out and take out the neck and heart. Then you put it in a big pan and cook it for half an hour at 80 degrees. Then you invite people over and eat.

~Andrew – Pizza
Buy some dough, some cheese and pepperoni. Then you cook it for 10 hours at 5 degrees. Then you eat it.

~Shelby – Applesauce
Go to the store and buy some apples, and then you squish them up. Then you put them in a jar that says, “Applesauce.” Then you eat it.

~Christopher – Pumpkin Pie
First you buy a pumpkin and smash it. Then it is all done. And you cook it in the oven for 12 minutes and 4 degrees. Then you eat it.

~Jennie – Corn
My mom buys it. Then you throw it. Then you cook it. Then you eat it.

~Joplyn – Apple Pie
Take some apples, mash them up. Take some bread and make a pie with it. Get some dough and squish it. Shape the dough into a pie shape. Put the apples in it. Then bake it at nine degrees for 15 minutes.



10. Everyone will think your turkey is Cajun-blackened.

9. Uninvited guests will think twice next year.

8. Your cheese broccoli lima bean casserole will gain newfound appreciation.

7. Pets won’t bother to pester you for scraps.

6. No one will overeat.

5. The smoke alarm was due for a test.

4. Carving the bird will provide a good cardiovascular workout.

3. You’ll get to the desserts more quickly.

2. After dinner, the guys can take the bird to the yard and play football.

1. The less turkey Uncle You-Know-Who eats, the less likely he will be to walk around with his pants unbuttoned.

Veterans Day, 2010

For my Veterans Day blog post this year I am rehashing an article I wrote two years ago about a special Veterans Day event with Oliver North. You who have been LCCC small group leaders more than two years will probably remember reading this. But, I hope you enjoy it again, and perhaps even use some of its content, along with the two fun articles which follow it, to honor our veterans and reflect on what our mission and values are as American believers.

Blessings on your homes,


Veterans Day with Lt. Col. Oliver North

November 6, 2008: Two Friday nights ago I had the privilege of meeting and hearing Lt. Col. Oliver North speak at a Northwest Baptist Seminary fundraising banquet (with the younger Kenningtons, pictured above).  “Ollie,” as he doesn’t mind being called, is a remarkable man. In an almost hour long gripping speech, he began by expressing his dismay with the media’s negative portrayal of our military. As an anchor for Fox News, he is dedicated to bringing the positive side of our troops to light. He told one particular captivating story of heroism that he had personally caught on tape using Reuters’ film. They aired it on his Fox show, but it never showed up on Reuters, AP, or any other outlet. It was simply too heroic; too positive for mainstream media.

He told several more of these positive storiesultimately to lead to his crescendo. Not only has he witnessed great acts of heroism being done by great soldiers, but he is seeing more than ever, in his 43 years in the military, the penetration of the gospel of Jesus Christ by these troops, whom he admiringly calls, “Missionaries in 7lb. helmets.”  Sure, many soldiers do not fit this category, and even many who do are “rough around the edges.”  But he has never witnessed a time when so many soldiers are openly reading their Bibles and expressing care for the people surrounding them.

There is much more that you and I will never hear in mainstream media about the work that is being done by our soldiers.  They are penetrating regions with the gospel that have never had access to the Truth.  They have become the first “women’s advocates” that parts of these nations have ever seen.  Because of them, women, for the first time in thousands of years of history, are able to go to school past the third grade, vote, and participate in society without fear of persecution – or execution.

Lt. Col. North attributes this to the power of the gospel, and challenged his audience with the questions: “Who will follow and finish the work these men and women have started? And who will support those who go, generously?” It was a suitable application for the venue at which he was speaking – a fundraiser for a ministry/missions-minded seminary which exists to develop world-changing heroic faith in men and women.  I believe this application is also suitable in our small groups under your leadership, and in our homes, where we take on the ministry of changing lives for Christ.

I was proud to be an American that night. And much more so to be a believer in Christ who is striving for heroic faith and Christian ministry. I hope you will share this encouragement with your small groups and spend a moment to be proud of the good aspects of our country; determined to improve the less desirable aspects; thankful to our veterans for protecting our rights to do such things; grateful to God for giving us the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ; and committed to bring Christ’s love to the world as a small group within His church.



The elderly American gentleman arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs he fumbled for his passport.

“You ‘ave been to France before, monsieur?” the customs officer asked sarcastically.

The old gent admitted that he had been to France previously.

“Zen, you should know enough to ‘ave your passport ready for inspection.”

The American said, “The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.”

“Impossible. You Americans alwayz ‘ave to show your passports on arrival in France!”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, “Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in ’44, I couldn’t find any Frenchmen to show it to.”



-Author Unknown

If you’re like me, you’ve spent autumn’s chilly Saturdays sipping wine by the fire and thinking, “Where the heck does the apostrophe go in the upcoming Veterans Day, and should there be one at all?” I can’t blame you. This is a pretty heated debate. In fact, calendars, the government and newspaper editors like me all contradict each other.

It would be nice if we could agree on the correct name of the holiday: Veterans, Veteran’s, or Veterans’. There’s even more confusion with holidays like Presidents’ Day and Mother’s Day, not to mention terms like drivers’ license.

So why can’t anyone agree? One problem is, all three versions can be grammatically correct, depending on the case you make for them. But we should decide who is the final authority in this — calendars, the government or newspapers.

My Mead pocket calendar tells me that “Veterans’ Day” has an apostrophe after the “S.” But the federal Veterans Administration doesn’t include one. Perhaps the most definitive source is this: On the VA website, it explains, “Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe … because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans; it is a day for honoring all veterans.”

And that’s good enough for me.