5 Questions to Make Christ-centered Date Nights

Man Up - Kevin Bouren

We were given a great tool for making Christ-honoring date nights, this week.

Our church family was blessed on Saturday night of this Veterans Day Weekend by the message of Army Major (and LCCC small group leader, coach, and exemplary discipler) Kevin Bouren’s: “Man Up: Going ALL IN for Jesus.”

In the sermon, Kevin exhorted Christian men (and empowered Christian women) to honor Christ as His soldiers in five biblically fundamental realms of  your life: In Your Marriage; In Your Home; In Your Mission; In Your Friendships; In Your Vocation.

Listen to the entire excellent message here.

Following the service, I observed Kevin being asked several times for his list of questions for men to ask their wives on date nights. So, I decided to post them on this blog.

They are:

  1. “When is the last time I led you in such a way that you felt as adorned, pure, and radiantly beautiful as you did on our wedding day?”
  2. “Are you growing in holiness, purity, and maturity under my current leadership?”
  3. “What makes you feel that I value you?”
  4. “Sweetheart, I want to minister to you today, so can you tell me if anything is burdening your heart?”
  5. “What is God teaching you in your study of His Word?”

Kevin, intent on making his and Adra’s date nights more Christ-centered than “amusement” centered, keeps these five questions on a card in his wallet.

Date Night Questions

Print your own card, with this jpeg.

“Amusement,” Kevin observes, is a compound word, comprised of: a meaning “not/without”; and muse meaning “thinking.”  How many of our date nights are characterized by “not thinking?!”

Implementing these questions will undoubtedly make our date nights more Christ-honoring than many of our “amusing” options.

Brothers, we are called as soldiers of a Holy Army, commanded by the King of Kings to present our wives to God “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).

Let’s man up!

May your next date night be filled with good, Christ-honoring, life-giving conversation,

Pastor Reg

Top 10 Posts of 2012

Here are the top 10 most viewed posts of 2012. It has been a remarkable year. Enjoy the look back!

10. “The Christian Life is a Team Sport,” A Letter from Pastor Jim

9.  4 Stages of the Bible’s Discipleship Process

8.  Best Small Group Ice-Breaker Ever?

7.  7 Days of Prayer before Kick-Off

6.  Discipling Men in Small Groups, Part 2 – Getting Them and Keeping Them

5.  Early Testimonies from the HEROES Series

4.  Faith In Action Weekend, 2012: RECAP and VIDEOS

3.  How Important is Leadership? Part 2 – Leading Jesus Mission: KONY2012 – A Test Case for Leading Mission

kony2012

2.  HEROES – at LCCC, Fall, 2012

Heroes

And, the most viewed post this year, with over FOUR times as many views as number two…

1.  Communion in Small Groups – More than a Good Idea

communion_t

With 615 views this year, this post has reached a bigger audience than our church alone. I praise God for what it may contribute to the worshipful experience of small groups around the world. Making communion common has been a tremendous growth area in the worship and relationships of Lake City Small Groups. Praise God.

And, praise God for a memorable 2012 and all He has waiting for us to experience together in…

2013

Blessings on our homes!

Pastor Reg

P.S. Here is what’s in store for the upcoming Semester, kicking off on January 20! 

Winter/Spring Semester, 2013

Here are a few important dates to put on your calendar right now:

1.  The 2nd annual Lake City Family Summit happens Saturday, January 12, 9:00AM-1:00PM. NFL quaterback Jon Kitna and his wife Jen will be our primary speakers, along with several breakout sessions.  As usual, the small group leaders training will be contained in one of those 50 minute workshops. How small groups fit into the BIG picture of the church as God’s Family is an exciting major theme for this year’s summit. Don’t miss it!

2.  If you miss the Summit, a small group leader training make-up session happens Sunday, January 20, during 2nd service (10:50AM-12:10PM), in the Gym.

3.  The Official Kickoff Week of Winter/Spring Semester is the week of January 20. Of course, groups have autonomy to start earlier or later, based on their semester plan.

4.  Pastor Jim resumes the Luke Sermon Series on Feb. 2/3, a good option for any group who would like to study Luke’s gospel along with the weekend sermons. We will have resources.

Golf, Fantasy Football, Guns: Men of God

I asked our elder, Tung Le, if he would reduce his address to the men of LCCC at the June, 2011 Men’s Breakfast to “blog size.” He accepted the request. Enjoy his well organized, thought provoking and challenging words.

God’s desire for every male Christian is for them to be real men of God. There are three specific areas in which men fail at this, and I want to look at these areas through the lens of three favorite topics of men: golf, fantasy football, and guns. 

Golf

Golf is serious business for many men. Golf lessons, Golf magazines, Golf on TV, etc. One friend I played golf with amazed me with his extensive scorecard system of tracking his game in every minute detail.

About a month ago, I played golf for the first time in a year and I was worse than I had ever been. And when I was spraying shots all over the course, I was getting frustrated, and I couldn’t understand why I was frustrated. It was if I somehow expected my golf game to be magically better after not playing for over a year. Why would anyone ever expect something to improve if they don’t spend time being intentional about improving it?

Question: If Christian men were as demanding of self-improvement for their faith as they are for their golf games, imagine how Godly men would be.

For some reason, the default belief of Christian men is that their faith and their relationship to God will magically improve and mature if they do nothing. If you don’t pray or read your Bible, if you don’t serve in ministry – why would you ever expect God to draw you closer? If you don’t model the fruits of the Spirit, if you don’t actively discuss faith with your children – why would you expect your kids to grow older and still embrace their faith?

Like the golfer who steadily sets goals of breaking 100 for the first time, then 90, then 80, then 70, we need to be intentional about our spiritual growth. At the end of each year, a man of God should be able to say “I was a better servant of Christ than when I began the year.”

Fantasy Football

Secondly, like golf, fantasy football is also serious business to many men. An article I read reported that almost 30 million people play fantasy sports each year, with an estimated 1.5 BILLION dollars spent in leagues. I played in a different fantasy league once – fantasy NASCAR. I didn’t know anything about NASCAR, so my weekly picks were random. After the first quarter of the season, I was dead last. At that point my competitive side kicked in, so I downloaded ten years worth of NASCAR data and created complex formulae to determine what factors determined a driver’s performance (their pole position, their history on the track, etc). I finished 4th that year, and won the league the next two years.

I spent a lot of time poring over spreadsheets trying to use the best information I had at my disposal to maximize my performance each week. All of us fantasy sports fans believe that by tracking information each week, we can maximize our results.

Question: If Christian men were as diligent about tracking and measuring their faith as they are their fantasy football teams, imagine how Godly men would be.

For some reason, the default belief of Christian men is that there is no need to keep track of your faith, and that the results will turn out for the best without effort. In Hebrews 2:1, Paul writes, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” You will not magically grow in your faith by not paying attention to it.

Like the fantasy football fanatic who pores over data, we need to be measure the actions that are related to spiritual maturity.

We need to track how often we read the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We can’t be equipped for God’s work without reading the Bible.

We need to track our prayer times. God is not a God who tracks minutes, but someone who prays 65 min/week is indicating a devotion to regular prayer that says something about spiritual maturity over someone who prays 0-5 minutes per week. Ask your spouse to help you set goals and to keep you accountable to them.

Guns

Golf, fantasy football, and finally, guns are serious business to many men. In 2008, Americans spent $4.6 BILLION on guns. A few months ago, I had coffee with a friend who works in the gun department at Cabela’s, and he told me that he sells probably $10K worth of guns/day. He even told me about one customer who had saved up money for years so that he could spend $25K on an antique rifle. When men are passionate about something, they study and immerse themselves in the culture and lifestyle. They save up money to feed their passion. They let themselves be consumed by it, and express their passion through their words, finances, and everything they do.

Question: If Christian men were as passionate about their faith as they are for their guns or other passions, imagine how Godly men would be.

For some reason, the default belief of Christian men is that they can be more excited about things or activities than they are over God, and that He will be okay with it. They are wrong. The reason God says in Exodus that He is a jealous God and that we will have no other Gods besides Him is because He wants our passion on Him alone. He has wired men to be creatures that respond to our passions, and He wants that top passion to be Him. Can you imagine what would happen to our families, to our community, to our nation, and to the world if every Christian man had as their primary passion Jesus Christ?

Like the gun fanatic, we need to show everyone who looks at us that we have a deep and abiding love of God. In Galatians 6:17, Paul writes “From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.” Paul says that he wears Christ like he would wear a tattoo; he is marked by God.

We need to show that we are marked by God. And that means making going your church family a priority; and more than just going to church, but being involved in church. That means a father who leads family devotions because that is more important than watching TV together. That means sharing his faith to those around him rather than being silent about it. That means getting involved politically as needed, serving the community when the opportunity arises, and saving money to spend on missionaries rather than on your favorite hobby.

I am not implying that you can’t be passionate about sports or guns or your favorite hobbies; I’m saying that none of those should be a greater passion in your life than your passion for God.

Like a golf handicap, we should be working towards improving in each area. Like a fantasy football fanatic, we need to be disciplined trackers of our spiritual lives. Like gun enthusiasts, our greatest passion must be God and the things for which He is passionate.

And for those interested in intentional spiritual improvement, I say to you, seek discipleship. Whether you call it mentoring or discipleship, it will be immensely helpful to seek someone who can be by your side, speaking their life experiences and Scriptural wisdom into you to assist your growth.

Discipling Men in Small Groups, Part 3 – 21 Specifics

Welcome to Part 3 of the discipling men series.   This part was originally inspired by Rick Howerton’s article, here.

Part 1 addressed WHY we should focus on men.  Part 2 offered seven principles for drawing men into godly discipleship.  Part 3 explores the specifics of discipling men.

If you are discipling a man or a group of men, I hope you will pore over this list, add to it, print it, and use it to help guide you to an absolutely life-changing, fruitful and God-glorifying series of meetings together.  Several additional good resources are linked and cited along the way.

Here we go now…21 Things to Remember when Leading / Discipling Men:


  1. Men need to see a vision. They need a mental image of the final outcome of accomplishing your goals.
  2. Begin with the End in Mind. Your discipleship will be more successful out of the starting block if you already know how it feels to cross the finish line.
  3. Make sure they are really Christians. Make sure they have a saving faith.  Repenting and believing in Christ includes admission of guilt as a sinner, belief in Jesus, and trust in Him alone as Savior. Saving faith will be demonstrated by fruit in his life (Eph. 2:8-10; James 2:17; Gal. 5:22-25).
  4. Men need to be aware of the need for biblical manhood. Men today are confused over what it means to be a man; confused men cause problems and settle for less. The “American male” is friendless, sexually addicted, emotionally isolated, and searching spiritually. Culture offers no lofty vision of manhood today that is compelling to men. The Bible gives answers to all of the above.
  5. Men need to know and strive towards the Bible’s “20 Measures of a Man” in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 & Titus 1:5-10. These are not simply requirements for elders.  They are marks of maturity for ALL Christian men, from which elders can accordingly be identified.
  6. Men need social time, not just meeting times. Social time on the golf course, at the pool hall, on the ball field, etc… is what will make the meeting times come to life.
  7. Men are warriors and need an enemy to fight and a battle to win. This is just the heart of a man. Be certain they know who the enemy is, Satan.
  8. Men need to be aligned with the mission and vision of the church. “…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Jesus in Matt. 16:18). The mission (The Great Commission) and vision (your local church’s vision statement) of the church actually offer a monumental task of historical importance; and a team, family, and place with which to accomplish it. (cf. LCCC’s Mission and Vision)
  9. Men need a bar raised high. Boredom sets in quickly when a goal is easily attainable.
  10. Few men are readers, so find the right tools. You may be a book junky, they may junk the book. Learn each man’s preference and capabilities for reading. Use the right resources and press the “homework” limits accordingly.
  11. “To use a curriculum, or not to use a curriculum?” The key to this dilemma is to neither be completely closed to a curriculum nor bound to a curriculum. Your precious time together needs to be thoughtful, selective, prepared and directed; not randomly free-spirited or lifelessly, mechanically bound to a book. LCCC has a variety of resources including books for the readers, and spiritual assessment sheets for the non-readers. Find LCCC’s own one-page disciple’s growth assessment here: Disciples Growth Tool.
  12. Men will dodge real life issues by deflecting and talking about facts. For instance, you might ask a guy what God is teaching him during his daily time with God. His response might be to tell you he had his quiet time three times this week. You’ll need to dig deeper.
  13. Men need time to know they can trust you. You’ll need to open the door to this kind of transparency by revealing your stuff first.
  14. Men will lie to you. Every accountability list I’ve ever seen had as the last question something like this… “Were any of your responses misleading or all out lies?” Don’t declare a man the enemy because of this, he’s been taught by society to protect his influence in this way. Simply help him step into the light of honesty so God can redeem his heart.
  15. Men need MODELS, not INFORMATION.
  16. Men need a project. Women grow well together face to face. Men do better shoulder to shoulder. Tue colors are revealed, and deep satisfaction is reached while accomplishing a project. Make serving with him at least once a vital part of his discipleship.
  17. Men need measurable goals and accountability to reach them. These are a must if you want to see any significant growth.
  18. Men need to be told early and often about their responsibility to lead his household well. See/review Part 1 for explanation. And remember, spiritual parenting is the BEST way to grow ourselves.
  19. Men need to know how their time at work can be used for Christ. We spend more time at work than anywhere else.  1 Corinthians 10:31 says to glorify God (make Him look good) in EVERYTHING you do, ANYWHERE you are.  The Great Commission is to make disciples “as you are going”, which means ANYWHERE you have influence.  Secular work for the Christian man is not second class; it is strategic.
  20. Mature men multiply. Discipleship isn’t complete until they are discipling others.  This includes wife and kids immediately, and a younger man in the faith as soon as possible. Our goal in discipleship is following Jesus by “making disciples who make disciples.”
  21. There are so many more. What did I miss? What can you add to this discussion? What else have you contributed to the spiritual life of men you have discipled?

SOURCES:

Rick Howerton’s blog, Nine Things to Remember When Discipling Men

Gene Getz, The Measure of a Man

Group Publishing, Men’s Ministry in the 21st Century

Voddie Baucham, What He Must Be if He Wants to Marry My Daughter

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

Stu Weber, Tender Warrior

Randy Pope, The Intentional Church

Men’s Fraternity

The Bible

My own observations and beliefs

Discipling Men in Small Groups, Part 2 – Getting and Keeping Them

Last weekend I started a three part series on Discipling Men in Small Groups. If you missed Part 1, I encourage you to read it right here.

In Part 2 are Seven Initial Necessities for Getting and Keeping Men involved in our small groups (derived from Rick Howerton’s original list of six, here. )

If you have a heart for men and a concern for the strength of our families, churches and modern Christianity in general, consider how you might implement these steps with the men of your small group.

Seven Necessities for Getting and Keeping Men in Small Groups

1.      When listing the goals of a small group never use the term “intimacy.” This will make most men cringe, and run!

2.      When working on a group covenant/agreement together, make certain the men in the group are engaged in the conversation. They may remain silent for a while, but they need ownership of the covenant in order to commit to it. So, engage them. Ask for their input; what they like or dislike about this agreement and commitment. They will only sense ownership if they are given the right to push back. And when they do, they will be pleased to commit to something worthwhile.

3.      Give the men in the group more time than the females in the group to begin revealing who they really are. Men are apt to talk in facts and clichés for a long period of time before ever giving an opinion about a biblical passage or unveiling what’s going on in their personal lives. Don’t rush it. If you want to speed up the process, subgroup into two groups – a men’s subgroup and a women’s subgroup. Men are more open to talking about their life situations, struggles, and sins when women aren’t listening in.

4.      When deciding on social experiences suggest things the men in the group get excited about. Go camping, fishing, hunting, paintballing, to a ballgame, etc… When a group leader suggests experiences like these the men in the group subconsciously recognize this group is going to work for them.

5.      Cast a missional vision that makes a real difference in the world. When we make community the supreme purpose of small groups, it leaves men wanting, we rarely get it anyway, and we almost never make an impact on the world. But, when we champion accomplishing a mission together, men are invigorated by the challenge, the group impacts the world, and the entire group experiences true Christian community like never before.

6.      Take pleasure in sarcasm and laughter. We men are notorious for turning a meeting into a brawl, harassing one another and laughing at one another. Don’t let this get out of hand but don’t demand the environment of a wake either. If you give men freedom to laugh and tease early in the meeting they will seldom be angry or disappointed if you ask them to calm it down during the Bible study and prayer times.

7.      Unless everyone is in agreement, don’t demand homework from group members or that they read a book. Few men are readers and even fewer are willing to do homework. This will be possible in time but not as the group first starts meeting together.

Are you on the right path toward fully engaging the men of your group?

Please notice that these seven “necessities” do not suggest or imply a lack of commitment, winning them with entertainment, or cheapening the value of the church family. Much the opposite, men long to commit to something meaningful and bigger than themselves. And, you, the small group leader and shepherd of biblical truth and community, offer just that opportunity!

In the next post, Part 3 of this series, we will get into the specifics of discipling men.

Blessings on your homes,

Reg

P.S. We have scheduled a LARGE Men’s Breakfast on Saturday morning, 4/2/11, 8:30-10:00AM.  Pastor David Pritchard will be speaking on the future of Men’s Ministry at LCCC.  *The ladies will be away at the Women’s Retreat. There WILL be free childcare offered at the church!

Discipling Men in Small Groups, Part 1 – WHY

Lake City Community Church has recognized the need to renew our emphasis on family – both with the church as family, and the church as partner to our biological families.  Much more will be said, taught, and modeled about these family aspects in the coming months and years.

This three-part blog series will deal specifically with men and small groups. Though these blogs will only scratch the surface, this is a good time and place to begin the conversation among our small group leaders.

WHY focus on the men?

Most importantly, the Bible unequivocally identifies men as:

  • the spiritual leaders of their homes (Gen 3; 1 Cor 11)
  • responsible to spiritually care for their wives (Eph 5; 1 Peter 3)
  • responsible to train and instruct their children in the Lord (Deut 6; Eph 6).

God gave men these responsibilities whether they know it or not, and whether they want them or not.

Culture has really skewed these biblical truths, hasn’t it?  Unfortunately, the church, to an extent, has also contributed to the problem.  What has the structure of the modern American church typically taught its men?

The church offers classes led by ‘trained’ teachers. The church offers AWANA and children’s ministry led by ‘trained’ volunteers. The church offers youth groups led by ‘trained’ youth leaders.  The church offers women’s Bible studies, and a women’s ministry. The result is a subtle message from the church that takes the godly pressure off the men to spiritually lead their families. The church is essentially willing to do it for them! They see their responsibility to just connect their families to the church, affirm the church and support it with time and money.

The intent of these programs was certainly never to lead to the abrogation (or abuse) of the men’s responsibilities to spiritually lead their households. But programmatic structures in churches, and corresponding changes in modern culture, have tended to lead to just that response by men, whether due to unawareness, apathy, or outright rejection of God’s Word.

The only way it’s possible

I readily admit that I constantly battle the flesh in fulfilling these responsibilities which God has given me for my family.   I could not do it without God’s provision of a supporting church family that continually reminds me of this responsibility, teaches and equips me with resources to do it well, and holds me accountable for it. Obeying God’s will is constantly challenging; but it is constantly rewarding.

Men, are you ready to join the ranks of those who are leading their families well? You can’t do it alone.  Small Group Leaders, are you ready to support your men in the specific ways that they need it? In the next couple blog posts, we’ll get into those specifics.

Blessings on your homes,

Reg