PREPARING FOR YOUR SMALL GROUP MEETING

I am a great believer in preparation. Not just because it ‘looks good’ but because I genuinely believe it will benefit both yourself and the small group you attend. We will gain much if we chose to see preparation as a gift we bring to the rest of our community of faith. As for leaders, I see this as a non-negotiable priority.

1. PRIORITY
Seems like a logical and slightly superfluous statement to make but unless you book it in your dairy and plan to be there, the small group will miss you and you will miss out. Each absence will influence the atmosphere and efficiency of the group.
As we live in an increasingly busy world, with work and family demands ‘screaming’ at us, we need to arrange our week around our spiritual priorities. Start on a Sunday night and plan the week ahead. As you look at your diary write the small group slot in it.
Factor in such things as the meal prep and the children’s care ahead so that you aren’t thrown into chaotic situations (well, as much as you can anticipate).

2. PRAYER
I know that it always seems compulsory to add prayer to any list, just to make sure it passes the ‘spirituality’ test. That is surely not my reason. Prayer is the most effective way to prepare for a community gathering.
Pray for your own mind and heart. Pray for sensitivity and freshness. Pray for those who will attend and those who are facing challenging situations at home or at work.
Pray for those leading and hosting the small group. Pray for the barriers that the enemy might attempt to put in the way of those wanting to attend or during the meeting itself.

PLANING
If you just turn up tired, frustrated and out of compulsion, it will be quite likely that the whole small group experience will be unsatisfactory. What could refresh you? Think about the subject to be discussed.
Download the notes where available. Listen to the podcast of the subject discussed if you are following a Sunday message. Read the Biblical passage and highlight what ‘grabs’ you. Make some notes and bring them along.
Write down questions and ideas. Bring with you any good books you read/songs you heard/blogs you found lately. Come prepared to listen and vulnerable enough to be transparent. Ask that the Holy Spirit will use YOU to encourage those present there.

I know that reading this might seem overwhelming and potentially discouraging. But that isn’t my intention at all… Start something new from the list. Baby steps… And hopefully both you and your small group will be renewed and inspired.

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LESSONS IN A WEEK

Here are some of the highlights of my week’s Bible readings (Exodus 1-20)

  • Your own spiritual legacy will be very influential on the spiritual health of your family.
  • People can attempt to derail your spiritual destiny but God is both creative and redemptive – to turn anything around. #Joseph
  • Material prosperity can easily become a catalyst for jealousy and conflict. # Israelites in Egypt
  • Parental investments in your children’s spirituality in the formative years will pay off in their adult life. # Moses’s parents
  • The story of God often weaves human responsibility with divine sovereignty through a beautiful partnership. # Moses and God
  • The line between humility and insecurity is a very thin one. Make sure you don’t cross it. # Moses
  • Beware, under pressure, of ‘selective memory’ and the ‘blame game’. ‘# Israelites in desert

DIVINITY, DESTINY & DECISIONS

I have been speaking on Next Step (godly decision making) yesterday morning and here is a personal worksheet that our LIFE Groups can use. You might find these questions useful for yourselves. But PLEASE, read the capitals at the bottom!

Why don’t you take some time this week to reflect on the plan of God for your life? These  questions might be useful for reflection:

  • Who is my God? What is He like?
  • What are His deeds, in my life?
  • What has he called me to be (as a Christ follower)?
  • What has He called me to do (as a Christ follower)?
  • In what areas has He called me to serve my family, work colleagues, church community and neighbours?
  • How am I fulfilling God’s call for my life?
  • Of the treasures I have gathered here on earth – what will count in eternity?
  • What needs to change, as a result of my reflection?

REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE NOT CALLED TO LIVE THIS
DESTINY IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH. THESE QUESTIONS ARE
NOT FOR CONDEMNATION BUT TRANSFORMATION. TURN
TO PRAYER, TURN TO HIS WORD AND ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT
TO EMPOWER YOU AS YOU SEEK TO LIVE FOR HIS GLORY!

LESSONS IN A WEEK

Here are some of the highlights of my week’s Bible readings (Genesis 25-50)

★ Beware of selling your long-term destiny for a short-term gain. # Esau

★ Sometimes the way God changes your character and facilitates authentic repentance, is by allowing you to get through the same experiences through which you have hurt others. # Jacob

★ Time and distance – under God’s help – can do miracles regarding forgiveness. # Jacob and Esau

★ Even when it seems like human beings wrong you, God sees it and often steps in. # Leah

★ God-given dreams can be misunderstood by others and will take time to see their fulfillment. # Joseph

★ Integrity does not always bring prosperity and popularity. # Joseph

★ If you take a genuine interest in people, opportunities will come to you as a leader. # Joseph

★ God specialises in redemption. As people plot your destruction, even when there seems to be no hope, remember that God has the last word. # Joseph

★ Those who experience God’s sovereign faithfulness are inclined to demonstrate great generosity and graciousness. # Joseph

QUESTIONS FOR UNITY

I preached last Sunday night about unity (http://www.cfmc.org.uk/Podcasts/080112P.mp3) under my new series that explores what the church can be, from the book of Acts,
and here are some homework questions you might find useful too.
Like any questions like these, this isn’t about a self-motivating, self-empowered ‘to do’ list. This is a useful tool for inviting God’s spirit to reflect and react in a way that please God and blesses those around us.
  • If everyone else here will say what I say/do what I do – how will the church community look like?
  • What do I need to ‘let go’ that could discourage unity with my brothers & sisters?
  • What do I need to embrace in order to foster unity with my brothers and sisters?
  • How do I model unity in my family?
  • How do I model unity in my workplace?
  • What changes should happen to my diary to reflect unity with my brothers and sisters?
  • What opportunities should I embrace in generosity to show my unity with those in need?
  • In what way does my prayer life, both private and public, demonstrate unity with my brothers and sisters?
  • What can I do today that would enhance unity in our church community?

What would you add?

BIBLE LESSONS IN A WEEK

Here are some of my highlights from this week’s Bible readings (Genesis 1-24)

★ The enemy is crafty and creative and he will undermine God’s character by questioning His Word

★ Once you bite Satan’s bait, he will drag you even further into selfishness, pride and the blame game

★ Sin is a breach of trust in our relationship win God

★ Many initiatives start with a noble purpose but end up marred by selfish ambitions – re. Babel

★ When you are faced with a crisis you are almost always faced with a choice. You can choose to declare your spiritual bankruptcy or chose to do spiritual DIY.

★ Abraham finished well but if you pull out snapshots of his life, it often looks less than flattering. Don’t despair.

★ Lot made a bad choice, and while hindsight is a great advantage, he made the very common mistake of making decisions all by himself, guided by his human sense alone. Beware of that same mistake.

★ God doesn’t stop you from doing spiritual DIY but He often kindly intervenes with redemption afterwards. Still, consequences remain.