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! 

Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lakecitycommunitychurch & www.facebook.com/lakecitysmallgroups 

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

A Fresh Look at the “Great Commandment’s” Contribution to Discipleship

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15:12-17)

This is the well known “Great Commandment” of Jesus, and a companion “love” text from Jesus’ Farewell Discourse in John. These “love” texts are foundational in almost every church’s mission and/or vision statement, along with Jesus’ “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:18-20 to “make disciples of all nations.” From the Great Commandment we build a theology of love. It is typically from the Great Commission that we inspire the resulting action — discipleship.

Vital Signs

A Fresh Look at the “Great Commandment’s” Contribution to Discipleship

But, not often talked about is the Great Commandment’s (to love, like Jesus) contribution to discipleship.

Our small group leaders are working through the excellent book Small Group Vital Signs, by Michael Mack, together over the next year.

In our opening monthly session this March, “A Healthy Group is a Discipleship Environment,” our leaders discussed two wonderfully insightful pages of Mack’s book regarding Jesus’ counter-cultural nature as a Teacher/Rabbi/Disciplemaker. However, not in relation to the Great Commission, as one might expect; but in relation to the Great Commandment’s “love” emphasis.

I would like to share these two pages here, for your edification.

In our session, the small group leaders discussed each bullet point below in relation to our ministry of leading a small group. It led to excellent personal discoveries of ministering out of love, just like Jesus did. You can do the same based on your ministry, whether it be parenting, mentoring, teaching, leading, serving – whatever it is, as you seek to follow the methods of our Lord, Jesus.

From Michael Mack’s Small Group Vital Signs, p. 139-140: 

A Disciple’s Definition of Discipleship

If you could ask Jesus’ original disciples to describe discipleship, they would talk about a rabbi. In their context, a disciple was someone who was totally committed to a particular rabbi. Usually, disciples literally lived with their rabbi and followed him everywhere he went. Communal living was absolutely necessary for living as a true disciple. Teaching happened more by example than by words as you lived with the person each day. The purpose was to become “like the teacher” (Luke 6:40).

Rabbis taught in yeshivas, groups of disciples who would have passionate discussions over some aspect of life and what the Hebrew Scriptures said about it. They would wrestle with the texts together in order to understand God’s view on how they should conduct their lives. Most Jewish boys had memorized large amounts of Scripture by the time they were thirteen in preparation for their Bar Mitzvahs, so they did not need to study what God’s Word said as much as how to apply it to life.

Rabbis used no written curriculum or agenda for their multi-year discipling experience. Their curriculum was life itself. The rabbi observed the daily life of his disciples and then asked probing questions to initiate discussion about observed behaviors. A disciple could also initiate conversations by raising an issue regarding his observation of the rabbi’s life or some life issue or question.

Jesus adopted the rabbinic style of discipling his followers, but he altered it quite a bit from how it was normally carried out. John 15:12-17 [read at top of page] illustrates seven ways Jesus was counter cultural as a rabbi. As you look through this list, consider how his pattern for discipling applies to your small group. 

  • Rabbis trained their disciples in the law. Jesus’ discipleship was based on grace: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (v. 12).
  • Rabbis required a short-term commitment. Jesus called his disciples to total surrender of their lives: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (v. 13).
  • Rabbis required their disciples to serve them in practical ways (think, “wax on, wax off…” from The Karate Kid). Jesus treated his disciples as friends: “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants” (vv. 14,15).
  • Rabbis did not call their disciples. A potential disciple would ask a rabbi if he could follow him. It was up to the rabbi to say yes or no. But Jesus called his disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” (v. 16).
  • Rabbis focused on head knowledge so that their disciples could eventually train others in the Jewish religion. Jesus called his disciples to actually do something: “I … appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (v. 16).
  • Rabbis taught their followers to be dependent on them. Jesus taught his disciples to be dependent on God:  “Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (v. 16).
  • Rabbis used a top-down approach to discipleship. While his methods were based on his authority, Jesus taught his disciples from a mutual-discipleship model:  “This is my command: Love each other” (v. 17).

Jesus’ rabbinic style of discipleship is not just attending a weekend church service and meeting in a once-a-week small group; it is 24-7 living. It happens in your quiet time, work time, family time, and play time…every day.

The greatest joy, and fruit, in making disciples occurs not in events or classes, but in actual discipleship relationships – walking with people, through Scripture, prayer and life, to become more like Jesus, together. May these relationships permeate our entire church family.

Vital Signs Session 2 – Coming Sunday, April 7

Session 2 – “A Healthy Group Ministers Together” – is coming up, on Sunday, April 7, during 2nd service (10:50-12:10PM), in the Gym. Everyone is welcome to come, and to bring anyone they are discipling. Plenty of snacks and materials will be available.

Blessings on our homes,

Pastor Reg

Early Testimonies from the HEROES Series, Fall 2012

It is always great to hear testimonies about what God is doing, and we already have several great stories to celebrate from our HEROES Series this fall.

1.     From one leader shortly after the Ministry Summit’s training on using Jesus’ Serpent/Dove Method to bring Jesus into people’s hearts by asking questions instead of “fixing” with our own advice:

Hi Reg,

I used the Serpent/Dove method with my daughter this morning. It was incredible!  Because my opinions, thoughts & feelings weren’t the focus I was able to  really listen & ask key questions based on what she was telling me. I even used Jake’s phrase…..”so, lets get away from talking about the individual & their problems & get back to  whats going on inside of you.”   Instead of me advising & fixing & telling her what she should or shouldn’t do, she answered her own questions and gained insight for herself as to why she was struggling so much over a difficult decision she needs to make concerning this same individual and that she can go to God’s Word for wisdom.

All glory goes to God when we honor others by listening and put the focus on Jesus instead of ourselves.

Blessings

2.     An email I received after Lesson One: The Faith of Abraham

Reg,

We had __ adults last night and tears were flowing within the first 5 minutes of the conversation.  All but three people opened their hearts and shared last night in powerful ways!  The Holy Spirit was absolutely moving from beginning to end.  To God be all the glory!

[One member] said the group went deeper in one night last night than their group ever went in an entire year last year.

Praise be to God!!!

3.     From one of our newer leaders:

Last night went great! God definitely provided someone to mentor.

The storytelling went well and was easier than I had expected. We dialogued a little during the story, and then rebuilt it. As we started ‘going deeper’ a couple people started talking about hearing God’s voice and as I thought it was an opportunity to explore I found out that they didn’t feel that God was speaking to them or that they were hearing God’s voice. I decided to use the rest of our time on hearing God’s word.

I know the Spirit was leading cause of a story one of the girls shared that coincided with what we decided to discuss.

4.     Another leader’s observation about the HEROES biblical storytelling method:

One thing I noticed/love about the biblical storytelling method is that no energy is spent on things like, “I didn’t like what the author said about…; I didn’t agree with this…; etc.”  It’s just Scripture going right into our hearts.

5.     Another remarkable story from the first night:

Hi Reg, tonight was our first opportunity to get into the text of our study. [My spouse] and I went in thinking “man, our group is NEVER going to open up.” It has been difficult getting to know each other at a deeper level. But as you’ve heard so many times by now, the walls came down and the tears were flowing. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house tonight, praise The Lord!! It was so amazing and we have been so blessed by the things that took place and the things that were shared tonight. Just thought I’d let you know. So thankful that the Holy Spirit works despite our own doubts and shortcomings.

6.     A note from one small group member to their leader:

Hi guys. When I was talking last night about our friends who lost their little girl 4 yrs ago and who is now going through a possible miscarriage, [our leader] asked us a question. He said “When you experience something like that how can you trust God again”. Today on Facebook that same friend wrote this: “God knows what you have gone through because he was with you all along, keep the faith- I am keeping my faith.”

Our dear friends who have experienced the most tragic event a parent can, and to be going though another heart wrenching thing are CHOOSING to stay faithful because they know that God has not left them and that He is with them even when things go so wrong. MY faith is strengthened tonight because I now know that our friends have found that faith in God.

Thank you for being in this small group with us. May we continue to grow, learn and strengthen each other over the next few months.

See you next week!!

7.     A nice note from Sally C. about the HEROES study itself:

Hi, Reg. I want to thank you for the study provided for small groups this year. It really sparks good discussion, but better yet, I like it because it is not a “deep” study, one where I felt I have to be a Bible genius, but rather am able to be relational with those in our group. I personally feel that small groups should be about relationships as much as a Bible study. About sharing and praying, rather than an exegetic study. Small group, to me, is about family, and I surely do feel part of a family at our gatherings. Good job and I hope the future will bring more studies like this.

Thank you to all who were responsible for the writing and publishing of this study.

Sally Craig

 8.     And finally, a comment from a Communication Card in last Sunday’s services:

Praise for the Heroes Study. It has sparked a renewed vitality in our small group.

Praise God, indeed!

Maybe your group has not experienced flowing tears or great redemption stories, yet. That’s okay. Group life, like all life, goes through seasons. Some are dry, but guess what, God moves us through the desert. Some are average, but guess what, God grows us through disciplined persistence and perseverance. Some are painful, but as we know, God often uses those times most effectively of all.  And some are full harvest, which is where some of our groups are right now. As we share these great testimonies, we should all celebrate this time of God’s blessing and keep our eyes fixed on Him, through every season.

If you are not in a small group right now, it is always a good time to join one. See a list of the groups and how to join, right here.

Blessings on our homes,

Pastor Reg

How Can I fit “Intentional Relational Discipleship” into My Schedule?

The days are subsiding, at LCCC, of running programs and events, just hoping that some relationship and discipleship will somehow happen. Committed to Jesus’ mission to make disciples, we realize the need for much more intentional relational discipleship. Mediate on those three words for a moment. It doesn’t take a lot of explaining to figure out what they mean. We just realize that this is Jesus’ given method, and we are committed to intentionally building discipleship relationships into the fabric of everything this church family is and does.

It’s the personal matter of time that I want to address today.

How do we make the time for relational discipleship?

1.  The first answer: It’s not as hard as it seems. If we catch Jesus’ vision that being in relational discipleship is the most important thing we do, then we’ll be motivated to figure it out. And if we catch Jesus’ method of doing it during many of the things we are already doing, we’ll realize we can intentionally disciple with very few changes to our schedule. Running errands? Watching the game? Going to visit someone? Doing ministry? Hanging out with your children? Do it like Jesus did. Be intentional about inviting someone to come with you (Mark 3:14); be mindful how you spend the time (Deut. 6:7; Titus 2) and what your goal is (Eph. 4:13, Matt. 4:19; 2 Tim. 2:2).  [It would be good to read all these linked Scriptures.]

Jesus showed us how to do it with a small group of 12 and a closer group of three (Peter, James and John). Surely we can do it with one, two, or maybe a few!

It’s great to hear people like our group leader/coach Tony Oury, who’s already been doing this as often as he can. Great things are happening out there in the common moments of our lives!

2.  The second answer: To intentionally disciple well will take some extra, purposefully planned meeting time. Disciplers must intentionally meet with disciplees. Pastors/Elders must intentionally meet with Coaches/Deacons/Ministry Leaders, etc. Coaches must intentionally meet with their Small Group Leaders. Small Group Leaders must intentionally meet with their Apprentices. Parents must intentionally meet with their children.

But how often? And, what does that meeting time look like? Here’s the best meeting guide I have found. If you find this method useful, please share it with everyone you know who’s in the discipleship game!

  1. Select your person, or group of no more than about six, to meet with regularly.
  2. Commit to meet for a two-hour, every two week meeting, extending for a determined time (like 3, 6, 9 or 12 months). 
  3. Follow this excellent two-hour meeting schedule (adapted from Marshall and Payne’s The Trellis and the Vine):

A Relational Discipleship / Coaching Meeting Schedule:

    • Bible Study – 30 minutes: God’s Word is the most important element for spiritual growth (Heb. 4:11-12; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). You could use this time to train people how to lead Bible discussions, by modeling it yourself, and then giving everyone a chance.
    • Prayer for You- 10 minutes: Without praying, we are doing this in our own power and for our own agendas. Not good. Pray in response to Scripture, and for different aspects of life and ministry.
    • People Work – 20 minutes: Talk about the needs and situations of the people’s lives to whom we are ministering; and how we can best help them grow. Confidentiality principles need to be agreed on and respected. 
    • Prayer for Your People – 15 minutes: Pray again, this time for particular people by name.
    • Review Ministry Activity – 15 minutes: Talk about different meetings and ministry related things that you’ve been doing or involved with. Did they work? Why/who not? What could be improved, and how? This not only leads to improvements, but also trains how to think about ministry. 
    • Training Input – 30 minutes: Specific training in conviction (a belief topic like baptism, eternal security, etc.); character (like how we are most tempted and prone to give Satan a stronghold in our lives); and competence (like how to lead a small group, or a family, or workplace relationships better).

This is what I’m going to use this year with my group of Small Group Coaches (some of which pictured here). I can’t wait for these bi-weekly times together, and I believe the ripple effects of this intentionality will carry out deeply into the entire Body of LCCC. Are you in the game?

We had a GREAT first HEROES training last Sunday. You’ll see these guys up front again in this weekend’s worship services, and then even more at the MINISTRY SUMMIT. 🙂

Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ,

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?

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

 

Our Senior Pastor, Jim Kennington, wrote an excellent letter to our church in the March/April Vine (church newsletter).  It’s good to hear from the lead guy, and I think it will renew your enthusiasm for Christian community!

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Dear Church Family,

The Christian life is a team sport. I grew up playing sports–baseball, football, and basketball primarily! Too many people I know are living like it is an individual sport. It’s not, it’s a team sport!

I want to ask you a question. Are you in a small group? God’s Word makes it clear that this is his plan for us to grow as followers. I know there are times for all of us when it won’t work to commit to be in a small group. It is fine to step out of a small group for a short season. But when this becomes the pattern rather than the exception, I believe something could be very wrong.

Proverbs 18:1 tells us, ‘Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” In other words, it is selfish and foolish to avoid living in community as a follower of Christ. Without regular connection and accountability that happens in the context of a small group we don’t grow as God plans for us to grow. God’s call is for us to be disciples, to be fully devoted followers of Christ.

A discipleship environment must include authenticity and accountability. It must also include a safe place to share struggles without rejection.

Very few Christians truly have accountability in their relationships. It takes time to build such relationships, especially ones that allow others to know us well enough to speak truth to our hearts. We all struggle at times. The devil loves to get us alone and tell us we are worse than anyone else. So, we live alone in the dark where the devil loves to play. But we all need constant support. Ecclesiastes4:10reminds us, “Woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Only in relationship, only in community, can we receive the advice, counsel, admonishment and support we need to grow to maturity in Christ.

The priority of small groups in addition to the larger worship gathering is the pattern that the followers of Christ established from the very beginning. Acts2:46comments on this, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”

The Christian life is a team sport! Are you trying to play it alone? Will you prayerfully consider joining a small group or finding a spiritual mentor to help you grow in your relationship with the Lord? It is worth the effort to make sure you are really living out the Christian life that God has planned for you.

Please check out the small groups page of our church website or contact the church office.

I love you!

Pastor Jim

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Not in Christian community right now? Consider getting in it at LCCC, you are welcome here! People who are in it, and leading it, you are doing a great thing and are appreciated! 

Blessings on our homes,

Pastor Reg

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.