6 Ways to Safely Serve Others During COVID-19

Yesterday our “Friday Morning Men’s Group” at our church met for the first time over a Zoom videoconference, which is the first time we’ve ever gathered virtually in the history of our group. Things went well overall. It was great to see and check in with everyone. We had about 30 of us in the conference I think, and everyone’s camera and microphone worked. We used a basic format, after an opening prayer we took turns sharing an update on a “silver lining” or challenge from our current time of “sheltering in place” at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was struck by a few things:

  1. A number of guys are struggling with the lack of social interaction and their empty schedules.
  2. Some men have already started taking advantage of virtual connection opportunities, reading daily from a novel to their grandchildren, for instance.
  3. Many are finding it difficult to have their grandchildren close by, but not being able to be with them / hug them / interact with them “in person.”
  4. Many are finding it difficult to not know how long this situation will go on, and are very eager to get back to “normal schedules.”

During the course of our videoconference and conversations, six things stood out to me as ways we can safely serve each other during COVID-19. There are clearly a LARGE number of needs we have within our group and in our larger communities. Finding tangible ways to serve and help each other during this disruptive time of crisis is important and can be a healthy addition to our schedules and lives.

1. Setup Virtual Family Dinner Connections

At least two of the guys in our group have already setup a “virtual family dinner” meeting via a Zoom videoconference. We did this with a friend and school colleague about a week ago, and it worked well. We connected to him via a Google Hangouts Meet videoconference on my iPad, and then put the iPad at our dinner table at the place where he’d sit if he was with us in person. Tomorrow for Easter Sunday, we’ve scheduled “dinner together” with my parents in Kansas and my sister and family in Missouri This reminds me of the Biblical exhortation we read in Hebrews 10:23-25:

‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ‘

Hebrews 10:23-25

2. Invite Others to and Consider Leading a Small Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has moved us as individuals, families, and communities into a season for many new things. Remote learning for school, or closing schools. Staying at home with family perhaps more than ever, cooking and spending more time together. Finding more ways to share our resources with others in need, via non-profits like our Oklahoma City Regional Food Bank and Project 66 in Edmond.

I want to suggest it’s also the SEASON for virtual small group meetings. We have outstanding, free tools to facilitate small group interactions and meetings at a distance. These include FREE (40 minute or less) videoconferencing with Zoom, and Facebook Groups. While Zoom specifically has drawn a lot of recent, negative media attention for conference security problems, these have been addressed swiftly. If you have access to another collaborative videoconferencing platform or are willing to pay for one, by all means go for it. But if not, Zoom is a viable and good option for small group virtual meetings.

Our adult Sunday School Class, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science,” has continued to meet the past month as we’ve started “sheltering in place” as a city and a state. We’re meeting over a videoconference at our “regular time” on Sunday mornings between our church’s virtual worship services. We’re using both a private Facebook group and Google Classroom to share resources and updates. Our church’s recent move to “Realm Software” as a church-wide information system has empowered individual teachers (like me) to directly email and contact our group members. I don’t think our church small group connections should end with Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, however.

In addition to considering JOINING a virtual small group, I want to encourage you to consider STARTING one. Start a book club. You might do this by:

  1. Choosing a new book you want to read, or a book you love and want to share with others.
  2. Creating a Private Facebook Group, which you can moderate and control (both members and posts)
  3. Deciding on a weekly meeting time for your virtual book club.
  4. Creating a free account with Zoom, and creating a repeating meeting / videoconference at your desired time.
  5. Creating a REPEATING EVENT in your Facebook group, including the Zoom conference JOIN instructions.
  6. Inviting your friends and acquaintances to join your small group / book study.

As we each grow more comfortable and proficient at meeting over videoconferences, the number of available small groups will grow. Your group does not have to have a large number of members to be “successful” and beneficial, to both you and other members. Small groups should be all about connecting, relationships, interacting, as well as learning.

Step out and create your own small group, for a book study or other purpose. The ideas you discuss together with your small group members and the connections you make in upcoming weeks can be IMPORTANT pieces of the wellness / self-care plan we each need to not only survive but also THRIVE in this COVID-19 pandemic season.

3. Utilize Daily Devotion and Bible Reading Apps

We all can benefit from daily “quiet time” to pray, read scripture, meditate, and seek the voice of God. I have been using the free “Pray as You Go” app and website for the last couple years, and highly recommend it. Pray As You Go is a project of the Jesuits of Britain, Each day they post a 15 to 20 minute meditation which focuses on a different Bible verse or series of verses, which are repeated twice during each devotional.

Use a Bible reading app like the YouVersion Bible, which includes a variety of Bible Study reading plans, the ability to connect to others for prayer and encouragement, and videos from amazing Christian theology and evangelist media creators like The Bible Project. The verse of the day feature, the ability to highlight and share scripture verses, and even create Bible Verse InfoPics right within the app are fantastic and powerful ways to focus our minds above “on the things of God” when so many current events “down below on earth” seem chaotic and troubling.

4. Keep a Daily Written Journal

Journaling about your life, your day, your fears, your hopes, your dreams and other aspects of your thought life can be an extremely healthy and healing activity at any season of life. Particularly as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, something no one alive today has previously experienced, journaling can be a constructive and beneficial activity. When I was in college and after college graduation, I was an avid journal writer. Then sometime around 2003, I discovered blogging. “Writing in public” on a blog or via a social media platform can be beneficial in similar ways to keeping a private journal, but there are more complexities to digital, shared, interactive writing. When deciding whether or not you’ll keep a journal during COVID-19, remember the benefits of your writing times may not be limited to you. Your grandchildren and other descendants may read what you write this week! We are literally living through history, so why not document your journey in detail for your benefit and the potential future benefit of others?

5. Engage in Oral History Projects with Family Members

There’s no time like the present to start a family oral history project. A few weeks ago, I shared a one hour free webinar on “Family Oral History Projects” which was recorded and is now available on YouTube along with several others.

The full description of that March 19, 2020 virtual workshop was:

As parents, children, and teachers are staying at home practicing “social distancing,” it’s a perfect time to create family oral history projects! In this 60 minute, interactive webinar, Dr. Wes Fryer will share a variety of tools and strategies to conduct oral history interviews and create oral history digital stories which can be shared with your family and the world.

Description of “Family Oral History Projects” by Dr. Wesley Fryer

Who tells your story? You are the best person to tell it, and there’s no time like the present to get started.

6. Be a Digital Witness for Jesus

As Christians, we are called to not just share the story of OUR lives, but also the story of how GOD has moved and continues to move in our lives. Check out my 2020 book, “Pocket Share Jesus: Be a Digital Witness for Christ,” for more ideas and project suggestions about how to do this. The full book is available free online. It will be available for sale on Amazon soon.

Giving Sacrificially

This is my sketchnote and narrated sketchnote about “Giving Sacrificially,” a sermon by Jen Howat on the November 22nd, 2015 at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. Jen preached on verses from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.

“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭21:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Also:

““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

Called to Serve

Mark Veasey shared these verses from the Gospel of Mark today at our Friday Morning Men’s Group. We are called by Jesus to serve Him and to serve others.

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)

The Simple Life (Acts 2:42-47)

I created this sketchnote during a sermon shared by Jen Howat at our church on August 22, 2015. The focus verses for her sermon, titled “The Simple Life,” were Acts 2:42-47. This is from the Amplified Bible.

“And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord’s Supper] and prayers. And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were performed through the apostles (the special messengers). And all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common; And they sold their possessions (both their landed property and their movable goods) and distributed the price among all, according as any had need. And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death].”

This is a narrated sketchnote I created by importing the video of my sketchnote, from Procreate, into iMovie. I slowed it down four times to give me more time for the narration, which is about two minutes long.

A Fast to End Injustice and Oppression

From the verses in Isaiah I used last week for an Ash Wednesday sermon, starting the season of Lent:

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The GOD of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, GOD will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.'” (Isaiah 58:6-9 MSG)

These verses are on my heart as I think about the challenges schools so close to our home face, and my own prospects for teaching in the year to come.

Do Not Covet or Be Greedy

These are notes from Mateen Elass‘ sermon on Sunday, January 25, 2015, at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. Our focus verse today is Luke 12:13-21.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (‭Luke‬ ‭12‬:‭15‬ NIV)

“Contentment means seeking to live simply so we can use our extra resources for the sake of God’s kingdom.”

Book recommendation: Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America by Dr. R. Albert Mohler

We are stewards of our possessions not owners, everything comes from God and we are called to use our gifts and “things” to further God’s kingdom.

Money can easily become our idol.

The goal of a disciple of Jesus is to have nothing in our daily lives which supplants our love of Jesus Christ.

Jim Elliott: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Bringing Up Daughters of the King by Dan Liberto

These are my notes from Dan Liberto’s workshop, “Bringing Up Daughters of the King,” on May 3, 2014 at the Mo-Ranch Men’s Conference.

thefreedomgirls.com
– family discipleship ministry
– objective is partnering with parents and helping them discipling their children

Do this through workshops, conferences, and Biblical Ruth Doll / Book

Ministry name: Generation with a Name
Psalm 145:4 “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.You as the dad and leader of your house, or as a grandparent, or as a mentor…”

– you have the opportunity to stand in the gap between that child and a culture that is roaming around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour

Highly recommended book: “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know” by Meg Meeker

Research shows your physical affection for your daughter is the best predictor of of your daughter’s self esteem

No gimmicks, no tricks: Just Deuteronomy 6
– simple to understand, difficult to apply (because of our sin nature)

we have to fight the battle for our kids, but we also have to fight our own battles

1st pillar: Love the Lord with ALL your heart, soul and strength

2nd pillar: Impress his love on your children

3rd pillar: Tie them as symbols in your doorposts

If you are going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk
– it’s impossible for you to walk the walk without the strength of the Lord

these are all relational
2012 article in Homeschool Dads: “A Great Time to be a Husband, Parent and a Dad”

The marital bond is the foundation of the family
– it must be communion
– when you put Jesus Christ as the cornerstone, then you have the foundation

Parent in unified relationship with children
– need to be in unity

Obedience is more important than sacrifice
– parents can make it impossible for a child to be obedient if the parents are not unified in their relationships and expectations for the child

Dad in relationship with children individually
– this is the dad zone
– this is where we are specifically focusing today
– this is the “father daughter dance”

As a father you are called to give your children their needs, not necessarily their wants

Remember children aren’t saved through your faith
– you are fertilizing the soil through discipleship, so the Holy Spirit will grow the fruit

Garth Brooks: “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.”

You have to give kids age-appropriate liberty so they will grow

Another book recc: “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp

You are God’s agent, not to manage your child’s behavior but to guide your child’s heart
– the behavior is a symptom
– the heart is the wellspring of life
– helping your child guard their heart is key

Never doubt your authority, it’s important for your children to never see you waiver with your faith

U571 movie scene: “Be a leader!”

Be courageous
– you are going to be ridiculed, made fun of
– the culture thinks it’s silly
– parents are subjected to peer pressure just like kids are

“The only way to know the inclinations of your child’s heart is to empower them to share their voice”

Be your child’s hero
– they need to know that you will move heaven and earth to help them with things they know
– let them know you will never abandon them
– best example: “The Prodigal Son”
– be grace filled

We hear it time and again in the Bible: “I will not leave or forsake you.”
– our children need to hear this constantly from us as parents

As dads, you have to get up on that wall
– you need to dress up like a warrior, to defend your castle against the many trojan horses that come in

Ephesians 6: this is a battle in the spiritual realm

Judges 5:8

God chose new leaders
when war came to the city gates,
but not a shield or spear was seen
among forty thousand in Israel.You have to be your daughter’s “Prince Charming”

– be the man you want your daughter to marry

Help them make sense of life with a Christian Worldview

Take your child on a journey of discovery!

Turn off the noise, and turn up the fellowship in your family (with your kids & spouse!)

Have a multi-generational vision for your family
– pray for your children’s spouses, children, etc.
– put away the shotgun and start praying for them, like Hannah did when she brought her child to Samuel

Which dad are you? What picture are you painting for your family?

Challenge and call to action: Let’s get to our creative side, reflect back on the kind of picture we’ve painted in the past
– ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to use those areas we need to shore up, and the Holy Spirit needs to encourage us in
– after you have reflected and received that feedback from the Holy Spirit, then pull out your canvas and decide which canvas you want to paint for the future

What do airline folks say about emergencies: Equip yourself first for the battle/struggle, then tend to your children

Surviving the Storms of Life Together

These are my notes from Tim and Ruthie Hast’s presentation, “Surviving the Storms of Life Together” at the Family Matters class on November 3, 2010 at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. MY THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

Storms happen
– don’t be surprised
– bad stuff can be what grows us

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Types of storms
– self / other inflicted (cloud seeding)
– unavoidable (normal weather patterns)

Be prepared
– understand that you can’t anticipate everything, but don’t rule out anything
– “That could never happen to us”

we were counselors working with FEMA after the 1999 tornados in Oklahoma

Number of couples that don’t make it through the death of a child (staying together) is very high, something like 80%

We need to be prepared, assume something difficult is going to happen at some time
– now is the time to prepare
– like getting your tornado storm kit ready

Isolation in a tragedy can be even more devastating
– your community can become your storm shelter

Start now working on strengthening relationships
– with God
– with your mate
– support network

Talk about the What Ifs, like a fire escape plan

Whatever you want in life, if you have a dear cut picture of it, your mind will be moving toward it

One way weather the storms of life together is by having a clear vision of who you are as a couple
– who do we want to be
– if you get that together, that is like life insurance

Epitaph exercise is something I use with clients when they are involved with something they shouldn’t or don’t want to be
– live for your epitaph
– start with the end in mind

How do you want to be in a crisis?
– how do we want to look to others?
– people will be watching

Need to pray together when you are not under stress, because that establishes the habit and pattern of facing life’s challenges together rather than apart

Accept your own limitations (know thyself)
– recovery will take time
– it will take more than you have
– stay humble
– have a teachable spirit – it requires an open mind
— many times we “think we know,” but there are SO many things we don’t know….

There is an element of shame with some of these things that attack us
– there needs to be humility between spouses too

Have you notice how your faith is really strengthened and grown in those tough times?

In the anger stage of grief, we blame
– that requires forgiveness, of each other, of people who perpetrate a crime
– if infidelity is involved, forgiving each other, forgiving ourselves

When we forgive, we become like God, we resemble Him, he has forgiven us

Biblical examples:
– Joseph forgiving his brothers
– The Prodigal Son
– The Woman at the Well

Sometimes we oversimplify forgiveness
– we need to understand the true extend of the damage and pain that was caused
– you can’t fully forgive what you incompletely understand

Forgiving is letting go of all perceived rights to punish or avenge
– punishment and judgement are God’s domain (He can do a much better job of this than we can)

Praying for blessing for the person who caused the harm is very difficult, but it is part of forgiveness

When we do these things, the the hurt and the evil truly no longer has a claim on our lives

It takes something bigger than me to forgive such an egregious act

Letting go of the measuring stick can be a real big struggle for us

Story of couple on Oprah last week on couple who lost all three of their kids
– they immediately went into counseling
– made a pact with each other not to commit suicide, they knew the grief that was coming was terrible

When IT strikes, we must mobilize
– get the information and help you need
– learn
– ask for help
– investigate
– consult
– join

Call your church family first
– that is what we are here for, for each other

Be clear about expectations of each other and self, agree on these

Make an immediate plan and move forward
– what do we need to consider
– who is in charge
– who is responsible for what?
– who needs to be involved (or not?)
– do we need a time frame?
– what kinds of financial arrangements may need to be made?

Manage stress and take care of yourself and each other
Surround yourself with trusted listeners
You each need a confidante
Couples therapy can help

When you talk with others, start with your most vulnerable emotions first (I am frightened

Don’t wait till the thunderstorm is over to learn to dance in the rain

Trauma research shows the number one tool in recovery is talking about the event in the presence of a compassionate witness

The way you handle tragedy as a couple will either break your marriage party or deepen your relationship together
– talk with each other
– do not isolate yourselves from each other

Practice good communication
– that is the number one thing that will keep your relationship strong and tight

There is grief in every life change: we are leaving something

Grief is the process of moving from what was to what is
– moving from fantasy to reality

Five steps of grief
1 denial
2 anger
3 depression
4 bargaining
5 acceptance

Stages
– moving from denial to acceptance
– you are accepting what is, or truth
– denial is the lie

Moving from the lie to the truth
– that is just like our walk with Christ

We all experience the grief process differently
– we must give our mate space to grieve on their own schedule

Never forgive the objective, to get through the storm as a unit, intact, and even stronger than before….
– washed by the rain, and still standing

We want to stay married, but stay married better

People who had blueprints for their house are able to rebuild faster after a tornado

This is like the vision and identity that we have for our marriage and lives together

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Discussing Small Group Ministry Expansion

These are my notes from a meeting this evening at our church, discussing ways to expand our small group ministries.

Historically, we have had multiple movements in our church to support and emphasize small groups
– care rings small groups
– covenant groups
– journey groups
– discipleship groups
– men’s discipleship groups

Many of these groups have needed more administrative support than the church staff could support
– now we don’t have any directors of small group ministries
– we are going down from 4 to 3 ordained pastors
– so these small group ministries need to be simpler, not as administratively intense

So before imposing staff thinking on the congregation, we decided we should have some conversations with congregation members, especially those who have been small group leaders in the past

Questions to answer at our tables:

1. Reflecting on your entire experience with small group ministry at FPCE, remember when you were the most engaged, involved, and motivated. Who was involved? What part did you play?

2. What aspect(s) of small group ministry contributed most to your spiritual growth and health? What have been the most important components of small groups for you?

3. What are you three greatest hopes for small group ministry at FPCE?

Responses from different table groups on these questions:

– Journey, Renewal, Covenant, prayer, long term, Bible studies, Bible/Brunch/Bridge, accountability, new member, tables for 8, others…

– Bible study
— Biblical basis

– accountability is very important

– regular, frequent meetings important

– prayer together

– intergenerational / multigenerational / cross-generational

– fellowship time

– worship experience

– variety in groups: could be service

– how do you recruit leaders?

– keep it simple, low administration

– widen participation by making it easy

– groups for couples

– having a visible place and way to connect in the church

– have different kinds of groups: covenant groups that are more serious and long term

– layers of involvement: need to be starting new groups all the time (how deep the group goes)

– late night groups, esp for college / younger people

– using Wednesday night time for small group

– room for fun and fellowship, eating together, bonding by breaking bread

– gathering in homes can make it more comfortable for people

– making resources easy for the leaders

– its got to be fun

– wisdom sharing

– like to see everyone in a small group
– broad participation

– whole healing

– leadership question: how do you develop and keep leaders?
— leader support group
— leadership support: leaders need some kind of support

– create excitement about our faith

– not intimidating

– consistency

– opportunities to stretch beyond your comfort zone

– prayer support, learning to pray for others and be prayed for

– covenant part is critical: being faithful to attend, confidentiality, etc which are part of the covenant

– centered on study / common purpose

– strong leadership development

– most important: growing in our relationship with God and with each other

– sustainability

– unity of the Holy Spirit
— spiritual relationships which continue to grow

– shared leadership for the groups

Common themes:
– addressing leadership issues
– accountability and covenants: needs to be a commitment
– growing in relationships and in spiritual development
– prayer focus: having deep enough relationships that you’ll be willing to ask for prayer / share you live
– simplicity
– organization: how we’ve organized in the past, how we might organize now

One big issue: we are seeing the same people involved in our small groups
– we’ve been very lax with recruitment, for journey groups we haven’t recruited for 2 years (in some cases that is because leaders were asked to do something that is fairly complex, and they are intimidated by it)

common with 80% of the people say: we base our study on the sermon of the week
– so someone (could be the preaching pastor) writes the small group curriculum for the week, with essential questions focused on the passage

MY THOUGHT: WHY COULDN’T WE EXTEND DISCUSSIONS LIKE THIS INTO AN ONLINE LEARNING COMMUNITY, LIKE A NING OR A FACEBOOK PAGE? OF COURSE THE FACE-TO-FACE CONNECTIONS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT
– I THINK WE ARE CHANGED OVER TIME BY REPEATED CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHERS WE’RE IN RELATIONSHIP WITH

Now thoughts from John Gruel on discussions and a model which staff have been discussing:

You need to have opportunities for people who do not “know the Bible” to engage

Components (common elements)
1- check in (relationship)
2- study (some intentional reason to get together)
3- prayer
4- mission (a component that directs you out beyond yourself)

make it accessible so people can chime in on the level where they are / want to participate

I NEED TO TALK TO MATEEN ABOUT SETTING UP A LEARNING COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT HIS CLASS, TO PROVIDE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FELLOWSHIP AND RELATIONSHIP BUILDING

Give us all more opportunities to think more deeply about themes
– this model is Biblical
– the better we do staying Biblical in our small groups, the better we do overall
– if it is a Bible study, you may be more likely to read the verses rather than reading an entire book chapter!

leadership elements: can focus on group dynamics
– encouraging people who are reluctant to participate
– dealing with people to attempt to dominate the discussion

Consistently good questions are really important

Life Church requires everyone who joins the church to join a small group

MAYBE I NEED TO OFFER ASSISTANCE TO HELP OUR PASTORS BECOME BLOGGERS? THEY COULD SHARE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR MESSAGES, GET IN TOUCH WITH CHURCH MEMBERS AND OTHERS IN DIALOG ABOUT THESE SORTS OF ISSUES… OUR CHURCH WEBSITE HAS BLOGS AND SUPPORTS BLOGGING, BUT I THINK SELF-CONTAINED BLOGS LIKE THAT WHICH ARE PART OF A CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM ARE LESS EFFECTIVE / VALUABLE THAN “STANDALONE” BLOGS. NOT ONLY CAN THEIR LIFE (LIFE OF THE BLOG) CONTINUE EVEN WHEN THE PASTOR MOVES ON TO ANOTHER CALL, BUT THEY ALSO CAN BE “OUT” IN THE WIDER BLOGOSPHERE.

Most churches make copies of the questions available (in hard copy form)
– form a lunch group after church, provide those opportunities

Interesting: there was a proposal to change our church’s name to “Summit Church” but the Session voted that down
– I DID NOT KNOW THAT VOTE HAD TAKEN PLACE!

BASICALLY I THINK WHAT JOHN IS PROPOSING HERE IS TO PROVIDE A STANDARD CURRICULUM FOR GROUPS
– THIS IS INTERESTING: WE WERE ASKED TO COME TO THIS MEETING AND BRING OUR IDEAS ON SMALL GROUPS, BUT AFTER SOME INITIAL DISCUSSIONS WE WERE/ARE BASICALLY BEING TOLD WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. THIS MAKES THE INVITATION TO HAVE THESE CONVERSATIONS AND SHARE OUR IDEAS SEEM RATHER SUPERFICIAL, MEANINGLESS, AND LIKE WINDOW-DRESSING: SOMETHING DONE TO CREATE A PERCEPTION OF PARTICIPATION AND INPUT, BUT IN REALITY JUST PRESENT SOMETHING WHICH HAS BEEN DECIDED ALREADY / PRE-DETERMINED. I DON’T PERSONALLY LIKE THIS APPROACH. 🙁

Proposal is to have covenanting periods: fall, spring, and summer

I THINK WE SHOULD EMBRACE DIVERSITY IN OUR SMALL GROUPS. IT’S A NICE IDEA TO PROVIDE A STANDARDIZED CURRICULUM MODEL FOR GROUPS TO USE AND ADOPT, BUT I DON’T THINK WE SHOULD ENVISION THAT AN IDEAL CHURCH HAS EVERY SMALL GROUP FOLLOWING THE SAME CURRICULUM. THIS IS A COMMON FALLACY THAT WE SEE WITH STANDARDIZED EDUCATIONAL MODELS. I SAY, GIVE PEOPLE THIS OPTION FOR THEIR CURRICULUM AND FORMAT, AND PROVIDE THIS AS A SUPPORTED MODEL. DO NOT, HOWEVER, EXPECT OR TRY AND PROMOTE STANDARDIZATION FOR ALL GROUPS TO THIS SAME MODEL.

John does not like closed groups.

Responsibilities of small group leaders:
– coordinator
– contact person
– convener
– providing dynamics to the group
– making sure questions are available
– listening to the sermon and reading the text
– not responsible for in-depth study, having to know all the answers, etc.

Groups like this could have synergy via a social networking site pretty easily

training would be offered at least twice per year

question of recruiting leaders is very important

Give the gift of a goat

Ever since I saw the water buffalo movie, it helped bring alive the power of tangible giving to third world countries. Our family has been supporting children through World Vision for years but it really isn’t something we consider. Yes we get cards from our sponsor children but it’s still distant.

Goat Gift

The water buffalo movie started me thinking differently. This year, our family decided to give each other this kind of gift. I gave a goat and after watching The Story of Stuff, it makes sense. I showed my own kids the story of stuff movie and while consumerism and materialism will always be a struggle for those of us with means, it does open up conversations, thoughts and spiritual questions that can produce change.

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