Planning Your Next Semester: Winter/Spring 2018

plan

Praise God, our groups are winding down a memorable Fall 2017 Semester. This post, which is revised and updated each year, aids leaders in planning for our next semester.

How NOT to Start Your Next Semester

Let’s begin 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!

NONE, Why is that!? This goes back to why our groups exist. Are they Bible studies alone? No, definitely not. But, experience teaches that if a group launches a new term immediately with the new Bible study or 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. Ideas include:

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

communion_t

  • 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!

Calendar and Small Group Agreement Pages

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

And, don’t neglect to review the Small Group Agreement page, to get everyone’s expectations aligned. Among the most important axioms I have learned in church leadership over the years is that “Expectations are everything.” They truly are. Clear and aligned expectations will directly impact your members’ attendance and engagement all year long.

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 training sessions or in my office anytime, where you can access our materials to preview or check out.

And, don’t forget that you can help us keep building up our curriculum library, with “The Lake City Offer”, which is:

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 back of the Leader Toolkit.

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 , 11:30am – 1:15pm, with lunch.
      • Option 2 – For those who cannot attend the January 7 session, come to the makeup session on Sunday, January 14, 11:30am – 12:40pm, without lunch (snacks only).

*This year’s training will focus on personal spiritual growth and leader development, strategically according to where you in this season of your life. Also included are fellowship with other leaders, coaches, and then key elements of the church’s vision and winter/spring  dates.

**This year’s training involves videos to watch beforehand. A link to five videos will be sent to all leaders who then choose two of the five to watch, based on where you are currently in your personal leadership life-season.

  • Signups: Signups will officially be open to new members starting on Dec. 30/31, with the list of open groups passed down the aisles in church the following two weeks.
  • Kickoff: Winter/Spring Semester officially kicks off the week of January 14. Leaders of open groups, be prepared to proactively welcome new people right away!  

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Our mission and vision remain the same:

Small Group Mission Banner 8 logo1

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

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

May God be glorified in our ministry,

Pastor Reg

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.

 

Planning Your Next Semester: Winter/Spring 2017

plan

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!

communion_t

  • 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

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

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 reg.overstreet@lc3.com 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

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 reg.overstreet@lc3.com 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

How Important is Leadership? Part 3 – Ideas for Leading Jesus’ Mission

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” – Jesus, Luke 6:46

Mission is when we use our lives to make a difference in the life of someone who’s NOT here. Community is when we use our lives to make a difference in the life of someone who IS here.” – Bill Clem

“When serving together in a mission, your small group will experience community like never before!”  – Reg Overstreet

People want to make a difference as part of their small group experience, and they need their leaders to open the way! This third post in the “How Important is Leadership?” series contains, as promised in Part 2 – “Leading Jesus’ Mission: with Kony2012, A Test Case for Leading Mission,” the “most comprehensive, insightful and inspiring collection of ideas and means for small groups to accomplish Jesus’ mission that I have ever produced.” 

Before get into the list, look with me at this great contrast in stories, in which Reggie McNeal, in his thought provoking book, The Present Future, reveals one vital factor that causes our outreach projects to be either successes or failures.

Story One

The first story involved McNeal’s wife, Cathy, went to Ground Zero in November 2001, about two months after the terrorist attacks, with a disaster relief team on a mission to clean apartments of people who had been displaced by the collapse of the World Trade Center. The apartments she cleaned had faced the Twin Towers. All the windows had been blown out when the towers collapsed. These people had watched people jump. They had found telephones, briefcases, jewelry in their apartments, all blown in when the towers came crashing down. These residents were paying commercial firms thousands of dollars to get their apartments cleaned. The team did it for nothing, even leaving gifts behind.

At that time Ground Zero was still a police state. People could come and go only with appropriate identification. Cathy and her team had to wear their disaster relief uniforms so they could get into the area to do their work. These outfits were conspicuous and grabbed people’s attention wherever they went. All over Manhattan people stopped them and repeatedly asked 3 questions: Where are you from? What are you doing? Why? Cathy tells me that by the time they answered the first two questions, “We are from South Carolina, here to clean people’s apartments for people displaced by the terrorist attacks,” they could have said anything in response to the ‘why’ question and received a hearing. Even if people didn’t understand their answer or disagreed with some point of their convictions they were willing to hear them out. Do you know why? They listened because the New Yorkers were persuaded that Cathy and her fellow cleaners believed something so strongly that it had caused them to inconvenience themselves in compassionate service to people.

Story Two

The second story involved McNeal’s wife and daughters’ mission trip to Manhattan in 2002 to help a group plant a church. One of their assignments was to help raise awareness for the new church by distributing free stuff to people on the streets and in parks. Predictably, people were suspicious of this approach. “What’s the hook?” was the question on people’s mind. As a result, very few people wanted to have any conversations about the church or Jesus…It seems in the New Testament that Paul’s strategy was to preach the gospel. He formed a church as a result of the harvest.

Contrast this response to the girls in Story Two to the response Cathy’s team received in Story One. What’s the difference? Easy. The summer mission group was positioned as marketers, introducing a product with a marketing ploy similar to food vendors giving out free samples at Sam’s. There was no dirt on the kids’ faces. No smell of cleaning solution. No sacrifice of service.
———————-

We learn an important lesson from this comparison. We are not called to market the church. We are called to make disciples of Jesus. His mission, to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10), is therefore our mission. His approach, to serve and not be served (Mk. 10:45) is therefore our approach. His goal, to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20), is therefore our goal.

Our small groups, in functioning as “the church scattered from house to house,” do not exist to serve themselves alone, but also to accomplish the mission Jesus began on earth. And, what is the blessing to our small group community for obedience? It is proven time and time again as groups serve on mission together: When serving together in mission, you will experience community like never before!

So, to help you lead your group to choose the right project or two, I present this, my most comprehensive list of ministry/mission project ideas to date. Several have contact information, but I can also be contacted to help get started with any of them.

AND NOW, THE COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF MISSION PROJECT IDEAS

Instructions:

  • Pray
  • Then, read this list and select the 2-5 which grab your attention the most. (There is a reason those grabbed your attention!)  
  • Submit these 2-5 to your group. 
  • Pray as a group. 
  • Choose one or more and begin!

I. Highlighted Opportunities

1.  Faith In Action, 2012 – LCCC’s third F.I.A. weekend is coming up on July 21. Co-directors Jeremy Evarts and Peter Johnson are going out on a small group tour. Have them visit your group for 10 minutes to cast the vision for how you could be involved in our biggest all-church outreach day of the year! Email Jeremy Evarts for info.

2.  YFCTillicum Drop In Center – Several of our groups have partnered with Youth For Christ in Tillicum in the past. They could use more right now. Our small group leader Nate Duriga is our point person. He says this: 

“We can have people come to the center, hear Jason [the new director] describe the ministry at the center and the programming changes we’ve made this year, and get a list of ways their small group could get involved in what happens with our teens. We can set dates for projects then, or take time to look things over with their group and set something up at a later date.”

3.  Fundraising for Bankes – Have a heart to see our missionaries, the Banke family, make it back to Niger on time in July?  They need funds to make it happen.  We are kicking around some ideas.  Contact me ASAP to join the team!

4.  SummerFEST – Two years ago, about 30 volunteers ran one of the best booths at SummerFEST, Lakewood’s biggest community event. We’ve been asked to come back. It is a great way to make a big impact on our community, but it will take two or three small groups to do it.  Event is June 30-July1, but paperwork needs to be submitted very soon. Again, contact me ASAP if interested!

II. “Loving One Another” = Building up the Church

Things Groups Can Do Inside the Home

  • First, don’t neglect caring for each other’s special times of needs, play dates or babysitting, helping move or clean the house, discipling each other, etc.
  • Care for widows and orphans (James1:27) as a group by hosting a dinner for widows/widowers (Randy and Beckie Madson’s group is hosting a series of these), or running an event for underprivileged or orphaned children.
  • All Group members be accountable to each other to serving in some kind of ministry at the church; praying for each other, and trading stories of your experiences.
  • Write out a large box of cards as a group, to people serving God, in need of encouragement, sick in the hospital, or who may not yet know the Lord or the love of God.

Things Groups Can Do Outside the Home

  • Are you a generally “mobile” group? Become an “Emergency Response Group” – to be on call for immediate, unplanned service needs that arise at any given time in a church, from visitation and meal delivery to yard clean up, etc.
  • Contact a specific LCCC ministry leader to ask if you could volunteer as a group to for anything from transportation to mentoring young people. (AWANA, Children’s Ministry, Youth and Young Adult Groups, Family Ministries, Prime Timers, Library, etc.)  Most needed, currently:
    • Promiseland teachers and helpers (Contact Niki Oury)
    • Food Bank Childcare. In 2 hour shifts, on Thursdays, from 1-5PM (Contact Phaedra King)
  • Help the Church Office by asking for their big projects you can help with, such as mailings, data entry, a phone call project, preparing crafts for children’s ministries, etc.
  • Visit shut-ins who have little or no other contact with people. These can be anyone from church seniors to total strangers. One stat says that 50-60% of people in convalescent centers will not receive another visitor before they die.

III. “Loving the World” = Reaching Out with the Gospel

Things Groups Can Do Inside the Home

  • Bring in a guest speaker on missions: a missionary on small group tour; a missions team leader; a visiting missionary; a rep from a local mission with whom you might partner, etc.
  • Everyone in the group prepares and shares their own spiritual journey/salvation story to the group (1 Peter3:15). Has been a huge blessing for groups who’ve done it.
  • Help teach each others’ kids within your small group how to share the gospel.
  • Throw a Block Party or BBQ in your host home’s front yard for the entire street this summer. Hand out invitations early. Plan games, mixers and food! Let them know it’s being hosted by a LCCC small group.
  • Make an Outreach Prayer List – List each others’ family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Pray for them and for each others’ opportunities to share their faith with them.
  • Adopt a Missionary – Each small group should have a LCCC missionary to pray for, encourage and support, which will strengthen the Great Commission directly. 
  • Adopt a Military Family – Contact the leader of this existing LCCC ministry to sign up as a group.
  • Adopt a Family in need or crisis – Ask a pastor for suggestions.
  • Support LCCC’s Adopted People Group, the Tam*jaq of Niger, by praying, supporting our long-term families there, supporting one of our short-term teams, etc.

Things Groups Can Do Outside the Home, in Local Mission

  • Start an ongoing missional presence somewhere as a group. This would become a major part of your group’s identity.  Some groups are ready for this! Ideas include:
    • Adopt the neighboring streets of either your host home;ALLyour host homes (if you rotate); or the LCCC campus, by cleaning the streets; hosting BBQ’s and holiday parties; passing out church invitations, VBS flyers, etc.; Christmas caroling; serving; and more)
    • Adopt a section of an area of Tillicum or McChord gate
    • College Campus outreach
    • Partner with any local school, offering to meet any type of ongoing need they have, with no strings attached.
    • Partner with the Police or Fire Departments to offer any kind of services they might be able to use, or know of who does. We have several members of these, including an LPD chaplain, in our church.
    • Move some or all of your regular meetings to a local restaurant or business, where you will engage with other customers.
  • Volunteer with the LCCC Food Bank – Opportunities include:
    • Food pickup throughout the week
    • Set up each Thursday morning
    • Distributing food or building relationships during open business hours, Thursdays1-5PM
    • Childcare, Thursdays1-5PM
    • Security, Thursdays1-5PM
    • Shutdown team each Thursday from5:00-6:00PM
    • Run aFood Driveat nearby grocery stores
    • Deep clean of the facilities
    • Find, buy, or raise money for most needed items like toilet paper and cereal
    • Become a prayer partner
    • And more! Contact Foodbank Director, Wanda Hayes.
  • Visit or partner with any one of our local missionaries. For example, the Hewitt group is throwing a BBQ for the DeyArmins’ new church inVesta,WA!
  • Parachurch organizations like Youth For Christ and Young Life regularly need event volunteers or mentors for kids. 
  • Local agencies like Care Net, Love INC., Tacoma Rescue Mission, etc always need volunteers for their great community ministries.

Things Groups Can Do Outside the Home, in Global Mission  

  • Have a truly cross-cultural experience without leaving the area.
    • Partner with World Relief through Jon Banke to serve and reach the large Somali refuge population living right here among us. Read this Small Groups_Bookmark for more information.
    • Partner with Mark and Monika Kozakowski with involvement in the regular Christian meetings among the Puyallup Tribe and the Rising Above Conference needs this summer.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Our job is to Tell

‎As we mobilize to go out, always remember that our primary goal in “Leading in Jesus’Mission” is to communicate the gospel.

Memorize this great line; to tell to the people you serve: “I am a disciple of Jesus. I am serving Him by serving you, because that’s what He came to do.” (Pastor Cho)

Include Your Families

Small groups should be both church-family and natural-family driven.

Just do it! Don’t become victim to the paralysis of analysis.  

Whoever you are, you can lead in Jesus’ mission. You can do a lot with the influence you already have. And WE can do even more together, as partners in this mission.

Blessings on your homes and mission,

Pastor Reg

SHARE YOUR IDEAS: Comprehensive does not mean exhaustive. Even as long of a list as this leaves out many many good opportunities. What more can you add from your ideas or experiences?

How Important is Leadership? Part 2 – “Leading Jesus’ Mission”

“If by leader we mean one who holds a position of authority and responsibility, then every Christian is not a leader. Some are—some are not. But if by leader we mean a person who enters into a relationship with another person to influence their behavior, values or attitudes, then I would suggest that all Christians should be leaders. Or perhaps more accurately, all Christians should exercise leadership, attempting to make a difference in the lives of those around them” – Walter Wright

KONY2012 – A TEST CASE FOR LEADING MISSION

I watched the Kony2012 video with my wife the other night. We found it moving and exciting, but, like so many initiatives (both non-Christian and Christian) that it so sadly misses the point; the root of the problem.

(If you know nothing about it, Joseph Kony is the world’s most wanted war criminal, responsible for 26 years of brutal violence in Sudan and Uganda, including the abduction of over 30,000 children and 66,000 youth, used to build up his vicious “Lord’s Resistance Army.” If you want to watch the video sweeping the internet, with 75 million hits its first week; or at least gather its message in its opening 5-6 minutes, just click “play.”

I enjoy when people stir up the pot on a large scale. It shows what God made us capable of when we are willing to break free from the malaise of entertainment and comfort addiction.  However, in our efforts of addressing justice and poverty alleviation issues, it is important for us to be equally motivated and well informed of the many layers beneath the surface layer. This particular video dwells right on the surface layer. And that is surely by design, because in order for an emotional appeal to touch the largest number of people, its message must be singular and clear. When everything makes sense, people get motivated. But, of course, it’s never that easy. Kony2012 serves as a great test case for those wanting to do truly healing work (which should be all of us). To do this, we must do the necessary work of examining and addressing the layers beneath the surface. Let’s start digging…

SUB LAYER ONE – EXAMINING THE DETAILS OF THE CAUSE AND POTENTIAL PARTNERS

Invisible Children, the group behind the Kony2012 video, is not without its detractors, and for valid reasons. One such example is this blog devoted to critiquing Invisible Children.  Here is another, and here yet another. And in fairness to Invisible Children, here is their thorough and open response to many of the criticisms. (In fact, shortly before I published this post, I discovered a fascinating criticism from secularists who suspect this entire mission may be a “covert Christian mission.” (Gasp! That would be horrible if Christians were behind it!) If that is true, that excites me. While I have mixed feelings about Christians ever being “covert” about their faith, there certainly is a place for it, such as smuggling Bibles into China, and the like.)

Even a quick overview of these articles teaches us two lessons about examining and addressing the layers beneath the surface of any mission.

  1. Empower yourself and the impact of your work by knowing the full array of actual details about the problems, the cause, and the proposed solutions.
  2. Be very discerning in who you partner with, knowing if their values, strategies and desired outcomes align with yours.

SUB LAYER TWO – LEARNING HOW TRUE POVERTY AND INJUSTICE ALLEVIATION REALLY WORKS

Removing one leader, even the world’s worst war criminal, is not a bad place to start (i.e. Hitler). I want swift justice very badly for Kony, too. This cause is appealing enough to move masses of people. That’s a good thing. But it isn’t enough!  Outside of “getting” Kony lies the real work– the type of work that, sadly, disinterests a majority of the masses (such as this, for example).  Since Christians are in mission for the long haul, let’s be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves, as our Lord instructed (Matt.10:16).

All too often the world’s efforts (including those of churches and Christian agencies) in causes like fixing evil governments, feeding the poor, rebuilding cultures and even taking mission trips are proven to do more harm than good. More harm than good?? The thought of our best efforts doing more harm than good should alarm us enough to earnestly examine this sub layer.

To do this, I recommend picking up two excellent books that have addressed this vital subject in the last few years: Corbett and Fikkert’s, When Helping Hurts (which everyone serious about following Jesus should read), and Bob Lupton’s Toxic Charity, a hard-hitting and very practical addition to this discussion (recommended for everyone leading any kind of relief work).

Space here doesn’t allow a full examination of each book, but even an overly-simplified description of each will sufficiently make the point.

First, Toxic Charity argues that continuous one-way giving creates toxic relationships where one has the resources and one has the need, and perpetuating this situation only feeds the pride of the one and eats away the dignity of the other. Numerous practical methods exist to eradicate those problems, if we would just do the work to implement them; which sadly, most agencies do not. This is immensely important. Do we want to continue giving just enough to make us feel good about ourselves and cause minimal discomfort to ourselves? Do we want to continue giving strategies that merely perpetuate entitlement, dependency and loss of dignity, when the wisdom is out there to reduce this with a bit more effort? Or, do we want to be Christlike with our action?

When Helping Hurts, describes poverty and injustices in terms of broken relationships on multiple levels: personal, economic, political, social and man-made religious systems. Helping rather than hurting requires proper diagnosis of both the cause and solution of the problem. If the cause of the problem is a lack of knowledge, then we must educate; if oppression by powerful people, then we must work for social justice; if personal sins of the oppressed, then we must evangelize and disciple the oppressed; if a lack of material resources, we must give material resources. If a mix of the above problems, the appropriate mix of solutions must be given. Money or justice alone are almost never the appropriate solution, and even harmful in many (most?) cases. Rather, bringing shalom – peace, dignity, empowerment, salvation – in a manner suitable to the given particular problem is the helping that actually helps.

Jesus is the Reconciler of those broken relationships; He is building His Kingdom, through us, His church, and our mission is to join Him (2 Cor. 5:18-20). In light of this biblical truth, the authors of When Helping Hurts define poverty alleviation as, “The ministry of reconciliation: moving people closer to glorifying God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation…The goal is to restore people to a full expression of humanness, to being what God created us all to be, people who glorify God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others and with the rest of creation.” This restoration can be brought about through an unlimited number of means, but only fully with one ultimate end in mind, the expansion of God’s Kingdom through the life-saving and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Maybe on occasion God will lay it on your heart to simply give generously, without discretion or restriction. But, if Jesus is our all-encompassing treasure and His mission is our life’s mission, then we cannot remain that casually detached as givers. Serving and loving people like Jesus must aim to fill them fully with shalom, with dignity and reconciliation with God through Jesus. And, that brings us to the final and most important sub layer.

SUB LAYER THREE – ADDRESSING THE REAL ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

Christians, we must must must realize that pouring our energies into causes like feeding the poor, helping children, fixing evil governments, and rebuilding cultures fall short if those are the end goals rather than the means by which we bring the end result of reconciliation with God, eternal healing, peace and liberty from sin through Jesus.

Though it may include removing an evil man from power, Jesus has given us a much greater mission than this. Our mission is to make disciples of all nations; setting every captive in every nation, wherever we have influence, from neighbor to foreign land, free to glorify God and grow in the experience of the incalculable blessings of His grace.

Christians, we have a cause so exponentially and vastly greater than Kony2012: to bring reconciliation to God through JESUS to Africans; to our neighbors; to the world!

But here’s the really cool part. Bringing a Joseph Kony to justice could very well be one way God uses you for His mission to bring His reconciliation through Christ to the world. You could be on Jesus’ mission through being directly involved with this cause; including praying for the war-torn country and families of Uganda, and for the arrest of war criminals.

Understand, though, that the plan God has already established, to use us in the mission fields of our home and community, is no lesser cause. He has already called us to critical actions like visibly honoring Christ in our workplaces, discipling our children, serving our neighbors, supporting foreign missionaries, visiting widows and orphans, providing meals for people in need, being a youth leader, a food bank worker, or leading a small group.

Planet Earth has known millions of great Christian leaders, past and present, who gave and give their lives to this eternal cause. By design, God has called the vast majority of His followers to do it in less visible ways than producing a video that gets 75 million views in its first week. But, there is also a place for the BIG, highly visible movements led by Christians.

One incredible example is Rick Warren’s PEACE Plan (“Plant churches; Equip leaders; Assist the poor; Care for the sick; and Educate the next generation”), by which he is seeking the mobilization of a force that will eradicate the world’s largest enemies – spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, disease, poverty and illiteracy. If you want to watch a moving Christian video (and a much shorter one), please watch this video by clicking “play” on the video titled “It’s Time” at www.thepeaceplan.com.

Many other good examples of highly visible movements abound, in Christian leaders who are on mission to affect culture for Christ, Christian movies (which are actually improving in quality), good Christian best-selling books that proclaim Jesus and motivate His followers, and even the rise and opportunity of social media.

The Rise and Opportunity of Social Media

Many of us can proclaim Christ to a larger audience through Social Media than we ever could before. The Kony2012 video begins with an insightful depiction of the power of social media. There is a place and a need for “social media missionaries.” Like the Apostle Paul, who used all the technology of his day to its fullest to bring Christ to the nations, this generation should employ our best modern technology for that same purpose. From producing excellent films like Kony2012 to diligently posting good content, we can proclaim our love for our Savior. Posting links, pictures, sermons, Scripture quotes, and not being ashamed to display something Christ-honoring under your “religious views” – there are a million ways to exalt Jesus and edify each other through this wildly influential modern technology.

Global Injustice God has Placed before LCCC

For those of us at LCCC whose hearts are tugged in this serious direction of global injustice, let me direct you to matters that God has already placed before us. Many of the missionaries we support are on the front lines facing these injustices. Our role as their sending church is to face it with them by supporting them and keeping them spiritually uplifted and accountable. Pray about this, and then learn how you might get involved with one or more of them!

I have written about the prevailing injustices in Niger, a country in which the Holy Spirit has directly led our church for the mission of reaching the Tam*jaq people. Did you know that the Nigerien government has allowed French and Chinese exploitation of the Nigerien people and land for hoarding valuable plutonium and oil? The people of Niger receive almost nothing in return. If you want to know more about this, download and read chapter 10 of my unpublished book Missions for the Church in the 21st Century. LCCC family, this is one cause that should be close to our hearts in prayer. And if someone wants to take it further, do let us know, and may the Holy Spirit’s power and boldness be upon you!

Leading Small Groups Into Jesus’ Mission

Admittedly, I detoured somewhat from the original direction of this blog series on leadership :). But, I felt strongly led to this, and I am pleased with the opportunity this diversion presents to demonstrate that in Kingdom work, leadership is not confined to a select few with a title, but to those at every level and through every means imaginable, as long as the end of their influence is to bring glory to God and redemption to mankind through Jesus.

However, to be true to my primary audience (those wanting to enhance their small group experience) I will present in the next post of this series the most comprehensive, insightful and inspiring collection of ideas and means for small groups to accomplish Jesus’ mission that I have ever produced. I think it will be an indispensable tool as our groups continue to mature in the area of being on Jesus’ mission together.

So, watch for that. In the meantime, care to share with everyone your comments, ideas or questions about this post? Such public dialog is, after all, a good use of our modern technology.

Blessings on your Homes,

Pastor Reg.