Small Groups

Cloud of Witnesses

cloud of witnessesHebrews 12:1-2, is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. On the heals of what is known as the Hall of Faith, which records a long list of men and women who were “commended for their faith,”the writer exhorts the reader with these words…”Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” The “cloud of witnesses” in this verse, refers back to the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. The imagery I get from this verse is one of a sports event. As believers, we are in a great stadium, surrounded by these men and women who have gone before us and they are the ones in the stands, cheering us on in the race of faith.

As I look back on the last 34 years of my life as a Christian, not only do I have this “cloud of witnesses” surrounding me in the race, but I have also have been blessed to have a physical “cloud of witnesses” who have cheered me on as well. These men and women, who I have known, served with, been blessed by, have greatly encouraged me in the journey. They have prayed for me, equipped me, spoken truth to me, demonstrated God’s love to me and generally lived out the one another commands of Scripture.

So over the coming days, I would like to introduce some of these “cloud of witnesses” to you. These are my heroes of the faith. And I am what I am in large part because of what they did to invest in me.

Trust

577462_10200444369724239_1728339791_nBack on June 23, our good friend Sandra Kyung Lee entered into the presence of her Savior after a heroic battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. At her service at SeaCoast Grace Church, I shared that while we were trying to be attentive to Sandra’s needs, God did something within us that was truly remarkable…He used Sandra to bring us all closer to Jesus and to help us to experience the incarnation of “God with us”, through this wonderful thing called church.

One of the ways God worked through Sandra, was as this caring community that was serving the Lee family began to grow, the women of our church started a 90 Day reading plan and assigned various women to one another for prayer and reading accountability. The group designed the plan so that it would be accessible to Sandra, as her health began to fail her. So they decided that they would text or email one another. This worked for Sandra, as she was a rock star on the iPhone, relentlessly texting away with her left thumb.  From her home she could text, email and respond to the gals in the group as well as stay connected in community, especially as her life began shrinking around her. She, along with a few others, would also send out a Monday devotion. It became this great thing that ultimately over 100 women were committed to this organic challenge and to keeping each other accountable.

At the service, one of the gals from this group shared a devotional that Sandra wrote on Monday, October 15th, 2012. It gives a glimpse into the struggle of ALS, but it also offers hope and inspires me to have courageous faith as Sandra did. So today, I thought I would share it with you.

Trust

lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:20, 21 NKJV

The past several weeks have been difficult. My left arm and hand is getting weaker. I’ve experienced with other body parts this feeling before it became useless. If I lose my left arm and hand, it’ll mean I won’t be able to feed myself, nor write on my iPhone to communicate. I’ve struggled with anger these few weeks. I didn’t know where it was coming from. Now I realize the anger was from just feeling utter helplessness and having no control over the matter. I do carry hope of miracle. But dealing with this day-to-day, the anger snuck in without even me realizing it.

I confess that I was worried over what’ll happen if I lost this arm as well. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body  (Matthew 6:20, 21, 25 NKJV).

God has demonstrated how faithful He is to us. His timing is impeccable. I have tons of stories in our lives as well as from others of how God has provided in the past. I must not forget and remember that God is trustworthy. When we forget how God parted the red seas in our lives, we may die without ever seeing the promise land.

I may be in the desert struggling to survive but if we ask God for manna, he will give us just what we need for the day. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Today, I will trust my Father who provides for me perfectly. Thank you Father!

– Sandra Kyung Lee

Just as Sandra completed her seventh LA Marathon on March 17th of this year to the cheers of those at the finish line, she also finished her race on this earth surrounded by those she loved and was welcomed into the arms of Jesus who I am certain said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Small Groups, Big Impact

Small-Groups-Fall-11There is an old adage, “If you grow people, the people will grow the business.” I have been thinking a lot about that lately because I think we focus way too much energy on church growth. The bottom line is that it’s not about growing a big church. It’s about growing big people–people who serve sacrificially, give generously, dream ridiculously, and love gracefully.

My fundamental task as the Groups Pastor at Adventure Church is to achieve smallness and connection within a large organization. And in my opinion, the way to grow larger is to grow smaller via small groups. I honestly don’t think God will grow us beyond our ability to disciple people. If small groups are our primary context for discipleship, then the number of small groups we have will determine our growth potential as a church. It’s a stewardship issue.

So how are you growing the members of your church and helping them to become world-changers? Jesus invested in the few for the sake of the multitudes and I think we would be wise to follow his example. By spending less time thinking about the next big program, we’ll free up the time we need to invest ourselves in the lives of the men and women of our church, who in turn can change the world.

Why Should I Belong?

A glimpse into Week # 5 of our Why? series curriculum…

If we understand that our purpose in life is to glorify God and that we are gifted to serve the body of Christ, then logically we’re going to commit to a body of believers. However, the reality is that many of us still live in isolation. We wonder if we truly have anything to offer the body of Christ. We ask ourselves, “Will I be accepted?” We wonder if we really have anything to offer. Yet, the very thing we fear is the thing we need the most. God did not call us to live in isolation, but in community with one another. Because we cannot see God, we need to see and experience God through his people.

In Acts 2: 42 – 47, Luke portrays the lives of the early disciples worshiping and learning about God together, sharing meals and their possessions while caring for each other. They witnessed miracles done in Jesus’ name and were filled with awe at what God was doing in their lives as they lived in community with fellow believers and invited others to follow Christ with them.

God is love and because of that, he treasures relationships. His very nature is relational, and therefore he identifies himself in very relational terms: Father, Son, and Spirit. In fact, God Himself exists in community, and gives us the perfect pattern for how life is meant to be lived in relationship with one another.

Here’s Pastor Doyle’s response to the question…

Why Can’t I Do This On My Own?

A glimpse into Week #4 of our Why? series curriculum…

We were never intended to live our lives apart from God. In fact, it’s impossible to try to live the Christian life apart from Him. God has not called us into a relationship with Himself, only to leave us alone to find our way through the maze of life. Prior to His departure, Jesus promised a Counselor who would guide us into truth and act as our guide and companion. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, not only empowers us to become like Jesus, but he also fills us with a supernatural ability to do great things for God.

As Christians, God has placed the power source in our life and therefore we have access to unlimited power by plugging into God’s source for strength. And as we do, we will not only demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:22-26, but experience a strength that we never would apart from the power of God.

Such was the experience of Peter, who apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, denied Christ three times, but who later under the power of the Spirit, proclaimed Christ boldly and won many to Jesus. When we as believers live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of the Spirit’s work is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.

Here’s what Pastor Doyle had to say…

Why Does It Matter?

A look into Week #3 of our Why? series curriculum…

Most people think that Christianity is irrelevant to their life. They wonder how these ancient documents written over 2,000 years ago could really apply to them today. They ask, “How is following Jesus’ teaching really going to make me a better person?” They wonder if it’s for real, and how it will really improve the quality of their life. But the reality is, the God who we worship is the same yesterday, today and forever and that His plans and purposes don’t change. And that same God has given us the Scriptures to instruct us in the ways of Him.

Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you make. Your commitments can develop you or destroy you, but either way they will define you. Many of the hardships of life occur because we base our choices on unreliable authorities: culture, tradition, reason or emotion. We justify our actions with phrases like, “everyone else is doing it”; “this is the way we’ve always done it”; “it seemed logical” or “it just felt right.” However, these reasons are flawed by the fall. Therefore, we need to be committed to God’s final authority in our life, the Scriptures. For as Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

If you want to be prepared for every good work that comes your way, you need to decide to make the Scriptures the ultimate authority in your life and determine to first ask, “What does the Bible say?” when making decisions. For the Spirit of God, uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God.

Here is what Pastor Doyle had to say…

Why Am I Here?

The most basic question everyone faces in life is, “Why am I here?”  At the heart of this question is, “What is my purpose?” Self-help books suggest that we should look within, at our own desires and dreams. But in order to really understand the answer to this question, we must start with God and His eternal purposes for His creation. Real meaning and significance comes from understanding and fulfilling God’s purposes for putting us on earth. God created us to worship Him, and until we understand that, life just will not make sense. To discover your purpose, you must turn to God’s Word, not the world’s wisdom.  As the Scriptures remind us, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone”  (Ephesians 1:11).

In Acts 9:1- 9, Saul of Tarsus thought he knew his purpose on earth. He thought he was serving God by passionately opposing anyone who espoused ideas about God that differed from traditional Judaism. When Jesus got Saul’s attention, by temporarily blinding him on the road to Damascus, God gave him the name of Paul and called him into a new life of speaking boldly about Christ’s identity as Lord and Savior of the world.

Each of us is God’s workmanship, His masterpiece. God has crafted you with specific abilities, passions, and training to be used for His glory. Though you may be prepared and suited to be a mechanic, administrator, cart driver, or song writer, your purpose is to glorify to God.  And whatever it is, God wants you to do it well! Bring glory to God in all that you are and all that you do!

To go a little deeper on this subject, check out Pastor Doyle’s message from the weekend services…

Why Should I Trust God?

This week we started a new series, Why? The Answers to the Questions We All Have, at SCG! In the series, we’re asking the question, “Why?” out loud, as together we look for the answers to the questions we all ask. Questions like, “Why should I trust God?”; “Why can’t I do this on my own?”; “Why am I never satisfied?” and more!

At the heart of all the questions we have about God, is the question, “Can I really trust Him?” We wonder if God really loves us. We wonder if we’re really good enough for God to love us. No matter how you might answer that question, the reality is, there is a God who not only loves you, but made a way for you to know and experience life in Him. By an act of God’s grace or unmerited favor, God did for mankind, what we could not do for ourselves. At the cross, God satisfied the sin debt and adopted all who would believe in Him. God’s grace not only secures our salvation, but also sanctifies us (or grows us) to maturity.

In Mark 5:24-34, there’s a story of a woman who trusted in Jesus when others had failed her. Just being a woman in that ancient culture meant that she was not well-respected and she was most likely shunned by her community because of the nature of her lengthy sickness. But she was determined to push through the barriers and connect with the God who she believed could heal her. When Jesus healed her, He also commanded her to reveal herself. And Jesus made it clear that she was healed because of her faith…not her status, abilities or virtue! Our God wants us to come to Him as we are, unashamed and totally vulnerable, as we place our faith in Him.

Do you believe that God loves you? He proved it to you at the cross! Because of His sacrificial love, you can trust Him! To elaborate on this point, have a listen to our Senior Pastor’s message this weekend…

Ways to Promote Your Small Group

This is an exciting week for our small group ministry at SeaCoast Grace Church as most of our groups launch within the next couple of days! As our leaders put the final touches on our preparations, I wanted to encourage them to give one last push to invite others, as well as share some ideas on how they could promote their small group. Being that these ideas are pretty universal, I thought that maybe they could be helpful to you as well…

1. Invite Your Friends/Family – Pray and ask God to put on your heart the names of family and friends, who you think might benefit from being in your group. Shoot them an email, or make a call to personally invite them. When leaders extend an invitation, people feel pulled into a group, rather than pushed to join a group.

2. Post it on Facebook – Many of us have Facebook accounts,  so post something on your profile, letting others know about your group! You may be surprised who might respond. In addition, consider creating a “Facebook Groups” page for your group to post pictures and stay in touch throughout the week. Also have the members of your group “check in” with Facebook before the group starts and tag everyone there! By doing this, you might create a buzz about your group that may trigger a few conversations during the week.

3. Work the Small Group Kiosk/Table – People are constantly stopping by the kiosk on the weekends to inquire about groups! By working the kiosk, you give them a chance to meet you in person and get a level of comfort with you before they jump in! This past weekend our Run for God leaders recruited several members by just helping sell curriculum.

4. Encourage Your Members to Invite Others – Encourage the members of your group to invite their family and friends. In addition, encourage them to post about the group on Facebook or to work the Small Group kiosk! You might even place an empty chair at each week’s meeting and pray that God would fill that empty chair by next week.

5. Update Your GroupFinder/Online Profile – By updating your groups profile information online and adding fun and creative pictures of your group, you say to prospective members, we’re a fun group and you should really consider joining us!

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