small group

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Sunday Regulars are Happier and Healthier: Kate Shellnut shares the findings of a recent Pew Research Center report, " Whatever the explanation may be, more than one-third describe themselves as very happy, compared with just a quarter of both inactive and unaffiliated Americans."

2.      Move Over Sex and Drugs, Ease is the New Vice: Jen Pollock Michel with a sharp insight, "The decline in sexual activity and cereal sales hardly seem correlated, but both seem to point to one of the most seductive promises of a technological age: that ours should be an unbothered life. As our lives (at least in the developed world) get easier, we are increasingly formed by the desire for ease."

3.      Why Are you Hiding? This is written specifically for pastors, but it applies to many of us. Chuck DeGroat asks us why we keep our real selves hidden and why that might be our destruction: "The 17th-century Presbyterian clergyman John Flavel wrote in Keeping the Heart, 'There are some men and women who have lived forty or fifty years in the world and have had scarcely one hour’s discourse with their hearts all the while.' I’ve found this to be true of many people in ministry... They’re lost pastors, lonely and busy and empty and radically disconnected from any kind of inner conversation with their hearts and with the God who is more near to them than their very breath."

4.      They Really Did Come From Nothing: Lucia Tai, the daughter of immigrants reports on her journey back to her parents' birth home in Vietnam and how that reshaped her perception of them and undermined her ingratitude. She says, " I’ve come to see that my parents have spent the majority of their lives trying to assimilate into a new culture and to fit a mould that they were not born into...The experience also helped me to further reject internalised racism and to appreciate my heritage more. After experiencing my family’s truth, all the values that had been drilled into me from young started to make sense: the undying work ethic, the need to save every penny, the call to be grateful and to make sacrifices for the family."

5.      4 Traits of a Good Small Group Question: Lynn Pryor with great advice for leading any discussion group. Her four traits of a good question are:"1. They don’t call for a single right answer; 2. They don’t have an obvious answer; 3. They don’t call for a short answer; 4. They call for a personal response or answer."

5 Ways to Make a Church Home

5 Ways to Make a Church Home

When I graduated with my BA in Biblical-Theological studies and came back across the country to marry my bride, I entered our new church like a bull in a china shop. I wanted to get my hands into ministry as quickly as I could and sit under a mentor as soon as possible. I reached out to the pastoral staff and tried to jump in as quickly as I could into various ministry roles and getting mentored. There were lots of good things about our experience at that church, but when we left two and a half years later for seminary, I was largely disappointed with the ministry opportunities that had been available to me and the pastoral mentoring I had received. Some of the blame for my experience falls on the church leadership. But plenty falls on myself.  

Many can identify with disappointment in a church. Many of you have been at a church for years without feeling a significant level of connection and belonging.

There are absolutely ways in which churches need to improve in helping newcomers feel at home quickly and well, but there are lots of things I would tell my 21 year old self about how to join a church and what expectations to have.