Finding Christmas in the Gospel of John

My Discipleship Group just finished reading the Gospel of John, always a rich experience. With this blog post, for your Christmastime devotions or family worship this year, drill down into the theology, purpose and riches of Christmas, according to the intelligent, intimate perspective of Jesus’ closest friend on earth, the Apostle John.

LC3 Life Blog

We read the “Christmas Story” in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  You won’t find a narrative in the gospel of John, but you will find there the theology, purpose and riches of Christmas!

So, here is something different this year with your family and friends at Christmastime – Christmas through the eyes of John.

Before opening presents or starting that Christmas party, grab your Bible (maybe a good study Bible) and read and discuss these passages:

  • John 1:1 – The Trinity: Who and from where Christ was for eternity before the Christmas events.
  • John 1:14 – The Incarnation: The most succinct statement of the Christmas story.
  • John 1:16 – Without Christmas, Christ wouldn’t have flesh to sacrifice; and we wouldn’t have grace…only judgment!
  • John 3:16-17 – Christmas and Good Friday in one. These events should not, and cannot, be isolated.

  • John 6:42-51 – A…

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Extravagantly Christlike this Christmas

Merry Christmas, Church!

Few occasions offer us a more profound opportunity to demonstrate our identity in Christ as Christmastime. But, with every worldly and fleshly influence trying to derail our proclamation and worship of Christ, how can we win the battle? What does it look like in our homes when we win?

This brief Christianity Today article nicely diagnoses these common fleshly battles, and offers a biblical path towards becoming extravagantly Christlike at this time of year. I encourage you to read it and dream and plan for your best celebration ever of the greatest act of love in history (John 3:16).

Click to read article

Read this Christianity Today article here.

One Immediate Answer

There are myriads of ways to be extravagantly generous this Christmas. The Holy Spirit has already led us to one way – Lake City’s Giving Tree: buying requested gifts for the children of our Food Bank clients.

Many dozens of children will receive their only Christmas presents from the anonymous generosity of our church members. Will you be among them? This is the final week (gifts must be brought back wrapped this weekend!), and we still have over 20 tags on the tree. Come grab a tag and instruction sheet on the table next to the tree this week; or call the church office if you cannot come, 253-582-8040.

It may not change the world right away, but it will make a difference for one child – and in your own life.

Wishing an extravagantly Christlike Christmas season to you and yours,

Pastor Reg

Steps for Planning your Winter/Spring Semester, 2014


Our groups are winding down the Fall, 2013 Semester. Finish well, beloved groups. This post is to help as you pray and plan for next semester.

Here are some helpful steps and resources for your effective planning.

TOOLKIT and Small Group Vital Signs Book

Vital Signs

These are our primary leadership resources. They emphasize (and reward) proactive leadership. One of the best preparations you can make before Winter/Spring kickoff is to flip through these great resources again to build up your vision and gather ideas, so you can better lead those entrusted to your care. 

Leaders, co-leaders and Inner Circles should have these two resources. If you do not, tell me and I will get you one ASAP.

How NOT to Start Your Next Semester

As we often clarify, small groups are more than Bible studies. Small groups are our glorious opportunity to live out ALL the New Testament’s design for the church, with each other, for Jesus’ purposes. (read Acts 2:42-47 again, for example).

The problem: Experience shows that if you start your group’s experience with a Bible study, you will be locked into the “Bible study” mold and mentality, no matter what you try to do later.

The solution: Wisdom suggests you start your semester with the other things that get crowded out:

  • 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, saying “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.
  • Start with having the kids involved in worship, seeing Jesus Christ proclaimed as the purpose for your existence.
  • Then, start your study. We have 16-20 weeks in the Winter/Spring Semester – plenty of time to do it all!


NOW, Time to Choose a Study

Our foundation is always God’s Word, and a curriculum used well can be an effective tool.

As always, I have laid out our ever-expanding small group curriculum library on a table in my office, for you to come by and browse, or borrow a couple to check out.

curr, 2013

See our entire curriculum library list, here.

And, don’t forget that you can help us keep building up our curriculum library, with “the Lake City Offer”…

“The Lake City Offer”

If you are interested in using a curriculum we do not 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 Leader Training and Kickoff Dates

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

As always, there is one required January training session which will be offered twice, for your scheduling convenience: 

  1. First offering – Sunday, January 12, during 2nd service (10:50-12:10pm).
  2. Second offering – at the Church Family Summit, on Saturday, January 25, 9:00AM-1:00PM. Young Life Field Vice President, Bill Paige, will be our plenary speaker.

The full Church-Family Summit Schedule will be out soon. All training sessions are always open for walk-ins.


Phil Downer

Two exciting events have just been added. Author, speaker, and mentor of our small group leader Kevin Bouren, Phil Downer, is speaking to several thousand at JBLM, from January 13-17. We have just added two dates with him at LCCC:

1.  Monday, Jan. 13, 6:00-8:00pm – Speaking to small group leaders, ministry leaders, and all church leaders. TopicSpiritually Reproducing Your Life – Spiritual Multiplication. 

2.  Wednesday, Jan. 15, open dinner in Friendship Room, 5:30-6:15pm; Session for outreach and encouragement, from 6:30-8:00pm. Topic: Family – From Hell To Eternity: Strengthening Marriages through Men’s Mentorship/Discipleship

The Winter/Spring Semester kicks off the week of January 19, after a few weeks of signups. So, leaders, be prepared to welcome new people, if possible.  It runs through early June, so it’s a bit longer than the Fall Semester, leaving you room to do more things.

Continue to cast the vision that small groups are not merely Bible studies, but rather the “church scattered in communities, passionately living out Christlike love for God, one another and the world.”  The Winter/Spring Semester allows for a breadth of formative experiences for your group. 

May God be glorified in our ministry,

Pastor Reg

Thanksgiving Ideas for Small Groups

A Thanksgiving blog for our small groups, from 2010 – still a good one! Maybe you’ll see some good ideas here for tomorrow.

LC3 Life Blog

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…

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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

5 Reasons You Should be at the Ministry Summit this Saturday

Ministry Summit Schedule, 2013

Click on the picture above to see the finalized schedule for this year’s Ministry Summit.

How do you know if you should come to the Ministry Summit this Saturday? Since you cannot foresee how significant this half day of training will be to you, let me do my best to foretell it to you. Here are five reasons you should be at the Ministry Summit this Saturday:

1. The vast majority of 90 year old churches are plateaued or declining (or long dead and gone). By God’s grace, Lake City is none of those, and this year’s summit represents why (Hint: We are committed to the mission!)

2. The LCCC Family is growing in every spiritual way, and you are a part of the family.

3. The summit title even has the word “Everybody” in it, so, therefore, you KNOW it is for you. (Everybody Has a Mission and a Ministry.”)

4. The speakers are THAT good, and they love God and you, a LOT.

5. Besides great equipping, inspiring, unifying, fellowship  and food, you will get to hear all about the Why Am I Here? series, and be the first to purchase your study guides.

Hope to see you there,

Pastor Reg

How We Prepared for the “Why Am I Here?” Series

why am i here 4

“Why Am I Here?” It’s not only the most famous and important question of mankind’s history, but also the title of LCCC’s fall all-church series. Below is an email I just sent to our small group leaders, recapping our first big preparation meeting. I want to give the whole church family a peak at the preparations their leaders are making right now. After all, why just keep it to the small group leaders when it involves everyone??

Hi Small Group Leaders and Friends, 

We had a great turnout, and I think a great time, on Sunday – 44 veteran and new leaders and curious people. 

Our morning included eight parts to get us ready for the fall:

  1. A short devo on “communion” – in which I mentioned that our little Gabby has trusted Jesus and took communion for her first time Saturday night!!  I also urged everyone, again, to lead their groups in communion at least once a semester, for which I’ve given guidelines here – Communion in Small Groups: More than a Good Idea.  
  2. First Round of Prayer – PRAYER FOR US
  3. A look at the Fall Calendar (attached-Calendar – Fall Sermon Series 2013 – for small group leaders)
  4. A big picture reminder and way to process our commitment to THE MISSION of making disciples, and how LCCC is growing in that area.
  5. A walk through our in-house “Why Am I Here?” Study Guide for the fall, which was about 80% finished. I invited all who were present to give feedback on the draft’s content, and have since received some. Thanks, and keep it coming!  Our deadline for the final copy is the evening of September 5. The guides will be available for purchase, for $5 each, starting at the MINISTRY SUMMIT (9/14).
  6. Noted the exciting way we’re doing the “application” steps each week this fall. First, the sermon notes will fit into your series guides each week, for your group’s discussion and application of each sermon’s “Next Steps.” Second, the Faith In Action team is organizing several terrific opportunities for small groups and all LCCC family to reach into the community and/or meet needs within our church. I’m very excited how easy this will make it for our groups to put their faith in action, and even join others as they do.
  7. A look at some new, useful sections in the updated 2013/14 TOOLKIT; and then a look at a draft of the MINISTRY SUMMIT schedule, which you don’t want to miss, on Saturday September 14! (also attached-ROUGH SCHEDULE – MINISTRY SUMMIT 2013 – 4).
  8. And finally, the Second Round of Prayer – PRAYER FOR OUR PEOPLE.

I believe God is going to use us all greatly for His purposes and glory this fall. Glad to be in it with you,

Pastor Reg

P.S. Small Group Sign-ups begin this weekend!  The catalogs (list of our groups) will be distributed to everyone, so please take a look to see if we have all the accurate info for you.  If you are not pictured, and expect to lead or co-lead a group; plan to come to the MINISTRY SUMMIT, and let’s talk! 

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“Why Am I Here?” – This Fall at LCCC

Hi Church Family and Friends,

The summer behind-the-scenes are flurrying with activity, and details for the fall are becoming clearer…and exciting.  You have possibly heard by now that our fall Series is titled “Why Am I Here?”  Ah, the ever-relevant ancient existential question…BUT, you may never journey through its answer like you will at LCCC this fall.  Here is the draft of Pastor Jim’s synopsis for the invitation cards:

Why Am I Here?

Join us on a journey of discovery to answer life’s most fundamental question: “Why am I here?”

And here’s a clue to the answer: You were created by God and for God. You are not an accident. Even before God created the universe, God had you in mind, and he planned you for his purposes. And until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God that we discover our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.

Discovering how God has shaped you includes your unique mix of gifts, passions, abilities, personality, and experiences. As you discover God’s unique design of your life, it will focus your energy, give meaning to your life, and prepare you for eternity.

Join us this fall on a journey to discover how and why God made you!

We are breaking new ground with this series – preparing to do things we’ve never done before. If the Lord wills, no matter who you are, or what stage of life you’re in, it’s going to be fantastic!

Here are the dates and details:

It begins with two leader trainings* (STARTING THIS WEEKEND) , specifically for ministry and small group leaders and volunteers, but, as always, open to everyone!:

  1. This Sunday, Sept. 1 – Small Group Leader Fall Materials Meeting, during 2nd service (10:50-12:10pm), in the Gym
  2. Saturday, Sept. 14 – The Ministry Summit, 9AM-1PM – will be excellent as always. We are excited to announce Curt Chanda as our opening speaker, and workshops throughout the morning, for the equipping of all workers within Jesus’ church. Curt Chanda
  3. Weekend of September 7/8 – Small Group signups begin!
  4. Weekend of September 21/22 – Official Small Group Kickoff (Get to know each other and your group’s goals on this first meeting.)
  5. Weekend of September 28/29 – “Why Am I Here?” Series Begins!

*If you are going to lead or co-lead a small group this year, you’ll need to come to both of those, preferably; but at the very least, one of them.  More info is forthcoming, and you can read these two other blog posts for more info, and get ready and pumped up for the new year of ministry!

What Does It Take To Lead a Small Group (in 2013-2014)? and – SUMMER UPDATE for Lake City Small Groups 

For His Glory and our joy!


What Does It Take To Lead a Small Group (in 2013-2014)?

I posted this “small group leader job description” last year, but have updated for 2013!

Are you considering using your God-given gifts to lead in the LCCC Family? If so, praise God!  Now that raises the questions…What does it take to be a Lake City Small Groups Leader? What does small group leadership include?

Here is the official position description for this significant role:

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, Sept. 1, 10:50AM (during 2nd service) in the Gym. It is primarily for small group leaders, but open to everyone.
    • Ministry Summit is Saturday, Sept. 15, 9am-1pm. It is for ALL leaders of LCCC, including small group leaders.
  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.)

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. Be a model of someone who desires to become like Jesus.
  2. Delegate leading and caring responsibilities to group members so they can use their gifts for the benefit of the group.
  3. 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.
  4. Disciple and raise up new generations of leaders, as you are able.
  5. Complete the simple evaluation reports requested by small groups pastor from time to time.

Tools Provided for Leaders

1.  As the small groups pastor, I sit down personally with everyone who expresses interest in leading or co-leading our small groups. I always come prepared with our Lake City Small Groups Toolkit (a collection of our best training materials over the past sevenyears), 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 coach (if desired), for assistance, encouragement and accountability of their own growth as a follower 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!

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.
You can sign up to become one of our great team of leaders this year, by:
  1. Contacting me at or 253-582-8040
  2. Marking your interest on a Communication Card in the weekend services
  3. Attending the Sept. 1 “Why Am I Here?” Materials Meeting
  4. Attending the Sept. 14 Lake City Ministry Summit
Blessings on our stewardship of leading God’s people,
Pastor Reg

SUMMER UPDATE for Lake City Small Groups

Small Groups Logo - Pro

Are you joining a small group this coming year? Here are a few things you need to know about the upcoming 2013/14 year!

Summer of Coaching

The pivotal season has arrived in our unfolding small group coaching/infrastructure plan. After praying, strategizing and building relationships with leaders, the five coaches will seek one one-on-one meetings with each returning leader this summer, to achieve two purposes: 1.) To hear from them and pray with them; and 2.) To work through the exercise in Small Group Vital Signs #4 – A Healthy Group Has Proactive Leadership, so that 100% of our groups have a clear unique but aligned vision for 2013/14.

Fall Series: “Why Am I Here?”

You are now the first to know the title of this fall’s all-church series!  “Why Am I Here?” is going to be a great one; created in-house, for the people and community of LCCC.  This direction and title are fresh off the drawing board; so give us a little more time, and we will roll out all the exciting details.

You Are Wanted!

We want you, your children, your neighbors and friends to join a Lake City Small Group this fall.  Lake City Small Groups are our best representation of the New Testament Christian community for which Jesus shed His blood to establish.  You will engage in great things. You will be cared for, and care for others. You will be on a mission with brothers and sisters.

Here are the important dates:

  • August – Small group leader recruiting
  • Late August – Small group leader training begins
  • Early September – Small group signups begin
  • September 14 – Our third annual Ministry Summit (learn more by looking at last year’s details, here)
  • Week of September 21/22 – Small Groups officially kickoff
  • September 28/29 – “Why Am I Here?”, Part 1
  • [October-November] – “Why Am I Here?” continues
  • November 16/17 – “Why Am I Here?” Finale
  • Week of December 8 – Small Group Fall Semester ends

Discipleship Path

Finally, also coming soon is the long anticipated “Discipleship Path.”  A discipleship path provides an easy answer to every person, in any demographic or life stage, to the question: “How can I grow in Christ at this church?” It ties together all the already excellent things our groups, families, ministries do, into one, clear, aligned path towards connecting and growing in Jesus, together.

Those are your updates. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Blessings on our Church Family,

Pastor Reg