Small Groups

Why Church?

 

Most people have had a negative experience at a church at some point in their lives.  Maybe it was frustration, confusion, rejection, boredom or just irrelevant.  The word church can bring up some bad memories for many people.  For others the church is a mystery because they did not grow up going to church.  It can actually be intimidating and confusing.  Yet the church exists and has for thousands of years.

The purpose of the church is an extension of the purpose of Jesus Christ.  So what is the church?  In order to accurately look at the church, we need to discover what it is not.

  1. The church is not a physical building – The building is simply a place for the church to meet.  It is a place to gather, but the building does not make the church.
  2. The church is not an institution or organization – The church is not a denomination or an affiliation.  Often times people say they go to a Baptist church or a Methodist church.  That may help to describe the over arching beliefs of the people that make up the church, but it is not the church.
  3. The church is not a set of services or activities – The activities we do are simply the vehicle that takes us to a prescribed result.
  4. The church is not just a congregation – A congregation is simply a group of people who gather together.

In the New Testament the word church refers to the universal church, which is all believers on earth.  It also refers to a particular location and the actual gathering of believers in any place for worship.  The word church also refers to the body of Christ, which is an analogy for how the church should function.  So why does the church exist?

  1. Evangelism – That’s a church word that means to tell people about Jesus.  Through the church is how people hear the good news of what Jesus did.
  2. Discipleship – This is simply the process of becoming more like Christ.  It is growing or maturing in faith and spiritual matters.  It is exploring God’s ways and following him as best you can.
  3. Worship – Worship brings the church to life and life to the church.  It is exalting God’s worth and acknowledging him as Lord.  Worship is expressed through singing, music, praying, reading Scripture, baptism, preaching, having healthy relationships, and the way in which you live your life.  It is keeping God first in all you do.
  4. Fellowship – The church must be a place that embraces a culture of encouragement.  People need healthy human relationships.  This is often accomplished through environments like small groups, mentoring, mission trips, social events, and healthy friendships.
  5. Ministry – Everywhere Jesus went, he extended grace and mercy to those who needed it most.  When people serve unselfishly, they become extensions of Jesus.  Ministering to a messed up, broken and bruised world should characterize the life of every followers of Jesus Christ.

The church is made up of people that all are working together to do those 5 things.  When a church creates environments where people can experience those things it allows them to mature as a Christian.  These environments should be designed to help people connect with God and give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to transform the person.  Environments are worship services, youth events, children’s classrooms, adult classrooms and training, mission trips locally and internationally, small group or home group, accountability groups, one-on-one mentoring, and many more.

The local church is the hope of the world.

Next Generation Mentoring Group

I will be starting a new mentor group on Saturday September 4th. Here is some info on what it is all about. The deadline to apply is this Wednesday August 18th. I only have a few openings left.

>Our church is embracing a Married Men’s group model called Next Generation Mentoring that pairs high-potential men with a more senior, more mature mentor for 10 months with the goal of pointing them toward a fully integrated Christian Life. The result is the life-on-life application of biblical and scriptural principles as the Mentor shares his experiences, successes, failures, and insights to the group.

What it’s not

NGM isn’t for everyone. This is NOT a Bible study. It’s NOT an accountability group. It’s NOT a community group. This is a Mentor-led small group that involves reading (a book per month), memorization (two scriptures per month), transparency, and a willingness to change.

Vision

The vision is to help younger Christian men live God-centric lives, fulfill their God-given potential, and to become mentors to the next generation.

Topics of Study

Understanding who we are in God’s eyes

Deciphering how we can excel in our work, at home, and in our communities

Establishing priorities, work/ life balance

Dealing with sexual temptation

Making good decisions

Leadership and Godly character

Relating to our wives

Raising children

Knowing what it means to have a vibrant, living relationship with Jesus Christ

Are you interested?

Requirements

  • Married career men ages late 20s- early 40s
  • Hopes of children; or Parent to kids under 12
  • Self-objective people: folks who are willing to take direct, pervasive feedback without being defensive; a willingness to look themselves in the mirror and make changes to improve
  • Broken people: hungry for personal growth
  • Passionate commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Willingness to replicate the process at least once and be a mentor to others in the future
  • Cost: $200.00 fee up front for all books, materials, scripture memory cards, and all other content

Disclaimer: This is not for the overly-committed. We also have some limited scholarships available if money is an issue.

At-A-Glance

Who: 8 guys, 1 Mentor

What: read 1 book/ month, memorize 2 Scripture/ month, fully participate in all meetings and discussions

When: 8 three-hour sessions and 2 retreats over 10 months

Where: NewPointe Community Church Dover campus

Why: growth and maturity

How: apply online here

Cut-off date for applications is August 18th, 2010.

Attendance at Launch day Saturday September 4th at 8am is mandatory. No exceptions.

It will take about 15 minutes to complete the application. You will be asked to indicate your acceptance of the NGM Covenant as part of the on-line application, as will your wife. So it’s important that you talk through the commitment with her before you begin the application. A copy of the covenant is attached for you and your wife to review.

Link to Apply: http://www.nextgenmentoring.com/mentoree_signup.php?cid=30

Are You Stagnate?

I have been thinking about some of the things that have influenced my spiritual growth over the years. I must say that there have been many people, events and experiences that have influenced me on my journey. One that was significant for me was a small group Bible Study that I did called Crown Financial Ministries.

There mission statement is “Teaching people God’s financial principles in order to know Christ more intimately and to be free to serve Him.”

I was a banker at the time and interested in money and what God’s perspective was on money and possessions. I went to some training and came back to NewPointe and started my first Crown small group. I ended up leading many groups through this material and I found that I grew a lot during those years. The principles I learned are still with me today.

The group study forced me to lead by example and one of the requirements was to memorize a Scripture every week for 12 weeks. You also had to have your homework done or you could not participate.

To this day I still have many close friends as a result of this small group experience. Building community with other people and learning about what God has to say about our finances helped me to grow in my faith. Those 12 verses I memorized still jump out at me every time I read them, see them or hear them used in a message. I thought I would share them with you today.

  • If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of worldly wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?” Luke 16:11
  • “Everything in the heavens and earth is yours O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the Ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:11-12
  • “Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2
  • “Just as the rich rule over the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7
  • “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but the wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15
  • “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” Leviticus 19:11
  • “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said. ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
  • “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
  • “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.” Proverbs 21:20 and “Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.” Proverbs 21:5
  • “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
  • “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
  • “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36

I will soon be starting a new journey with 8 guys in a new Mentoring group I am starting in September. We will be reading a book a month and memorizing 2 Scriptures together for 10 months. Just like the Crown group was an important growth time for me, this mentoring group will also be a growth time for me as I pour into these 8 guys.

Growth doesn’t usually happen by accident. You need to be intentional about it. You also need to step out of your comfort zone by doing some difficult things. Start thinking, praying and planning how you will grow spiritually over the next 12 months.

Better Together

Life doesn’t happen in church. Church should be a great place for people to prepare for life, and it can help provide us shelter when the heat and storms of life come at us. But life happens at home, in your workplace, while your traveling, in your neighborhood, at the ball games, on vacation, at school, at the hospital and all the places we find ourselves during the week.

It’s in those times away from church that tell the most about us. It’s how we live from Monday to Saturday that define our faith. Those are the times our true character is revealed. It’s how you treat your wife during the week. It’s how you respond to your children when they let you down. It’s how you handle those conflicts at work. It’s how you handle your finances and your time.

Our challenge every week is to live out what we hear and learn about on Sunday mornings. That can be a difficult thing when things don’t go your way. When you get bad news, when you get great news. It’s in those hard times and good times that community is so important. Having some other people to share those times with you is an incredible help.

When life happens who do you have that will be there? Is there someone in your life that you can turn to for advice, for comfort, for support? Are you providing that for someone else?

Life change happens best when you are doing life with other people. When you open your life to others and let them into your world you take a risk, but the rewards can be incredible. When you are part of small group of people that you can share your life with, it helps you live out your faith during the week. You can build on what you heard at church and help each other live it out. You can encourage each other, pray for each other, challenge each other, support each other and have fun together.

Community & Change

Have you ever wondered why a growing amount of people are experiencing loneliness in our culture? Have you wondered why we can feel so disconnected even when we are surrounded by people and consumed with the busyness of work, family and church commitments?

The Bible talks a lot about healthy, intimate connections and relationships with other Christians, not only for support and encouragement, but as a vital ingredient for lasting change.

Our culture has encouraged us to be individuals and to face things on our own. It is important to take personal responsibility for our actions, but many Christians have taken the mindset of it’s just Jesus and me battling against my sin nature and trying to become more like Christ. When you make the decision to follow Christ, you are never alone again. God designed His system to have community as one of the main ingredients in personal change.

However, getting involved in community is messy, time-consuming and complicated. It seems easier to just work on ourselves privately with God. Change is something God intends his people to experience together. It’s a corporate goal. Each of our individual stories is part of a bigger picture that God is orchestrating. We each have an important role in that story.

I met with a friend today that has been facing some deep rooted issues. He has been making remarkable changes in his life over the past several months. One of the biggest reasons he has been changing so drastically is because he has fully embraced community. He had always been in groups before, but after this last situation he took his lumps and was open about his struggles with those close to him.

He also pursued accountability with some people he was close with. Having that community of people to surround him has helped him to make real “heart changes”. He turned to God and community as a way to start changing.

I know people that profess to be Christians and yet don’t go to Church or meet with other Christians in a small group. They make comments like as long as I have the Lord in my heart I don’t need that community. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:19-22 about us being fellow citizens and members of God’s household. He gives us a picture of a building or temple that has Christ as the cornerstone and the apostles and prophets as the foundation. The rest of us make up the remaining building. We are being built together.

Paul continues in chapter three to pray for them as a family, to grow in understanding how much God loves them. As isolated individuals, we cannot reach the level of maturity God has designed for us. This fullness can only happen as we live in a healthy, right, community with one another.

Paul goes on in Chapter four about unity in the body of Christ. We are to be humble, gentle and patient with each other. We are to make every effort to stay in unity with each other. We are to work through conflict, communicate openly, confront lovingly and support each other when there is a need.

So what’s the bottom line? A Christian is not only a child of God, but a member of the family of God. We cannot grow to the fullness God has for us living independently of others. Personal transformation takes place in the context of healthy community.

If you are continuing to struggle with a certain sin or issue, maybe you need to bring more community or accountability into your life. When we get past the fear of what others might think about us and take a risk to be open and honest, real change can happen in your life. god can begin to use you in the bigger story He is writing.

Small Group

My wife Vikki and I lead a couples group on Sunday nights. Our current group has been together for almost a year. We just started a new study called Love & Respect. It is based on the best selling book by Dr. Emmerson Eggrichs. We have been having some great discussion about marriage and this idea of men loving their wives and women respecting their husbands found in Ephesians 5:33. It is very helpful to hear how other couples are working on their marriages and that we don’t all have it together. Every couple has hard times, conflicts and difficulties. In a small group we can talk about some of those things and we can have fun together. Building relationships and friendships has been very rewarding for Vikki and I. We have gotten to know quite a few people over the past 10 years through small groups.

We eat together, party together, serve together, laugh together, pray together, celebrate together, study together, encourage each other and care for each other when we can. Life change really can happen in small groups. I would encourage you to get into a small group if you are not in one. That is were life change happens best.

Here are some pictures of us hanging out after group. We have to make room for the furry friends as well.

John with Max on lap, Chad with Bubba on lap, and Jasmine in the background.


Casey
and
Cookie

Small Group Serving Story

On Monday night the guys from my small group joined together to help an elderly lady move from New Philadelphia to Dundee. I love getting out in the community and serving with the people in my small group. Over the last several years the groups I have been involved in have helped many people move and have also done other serving projects together.

These times of serving are usually an adventure. Nothing ever goes as planned, but the guys are always up to the task. On Monday night we ran into a water leak on the outside of the house we were moving out of. We also had to catch two cats to take along. John Troyer got that job! John also spent time talking with the lady and getting to know her.

Joel Stone was along to help with his dad Keith and Joel ended up driving her car to the new place. The car was not in very good condition and it even stalled a few times. Joel did a great job of getting her to the new place in one piece.

I just want to thank the guys that gave up an evening to go and help this lady move. She told me that this was the first time since she moved to Ohio that anyone helped her without wanted anything in return. After getting her moved into her new mobile home we prayed for her and blessed her new home.

That small act of kindness will have ripple effects we will never know about. When was the last time you helped someone without expecting anything in return? How is your family or small group making a difference in your neighborhood or community? You have to look for opportunities to bless and help people. It is so easy to forget about the elderly, the single parents, the handicapped and the sick. The local church, made up of small groups of people can really make a difference through small acts of kindness. There are over 120 small group at NewPointe Communty Church. Can you imagine what would happen if all those groups were intentional about helping and serving the people in our communities? Groups of people out touching lives every week!

Thanks again to John Troyer, Keith Stone, Joel Stone, Ryan Yoss, Daryl Kurtz, Greg Barnett and Phil Alleshire. They provided vehicles and labor that got this lady moved in one night.

Serve On!

Wedding community

This weekend one of the couples in our small group got married. Casey Miller and Jenn Margo were married on Saturday October 11, 2008. They have been in my couples small group for around 8 months. It has been fun getting to know them better and being able to participate in their wedding day. Most of my small group came to the wedding. I got to do the service as well.

We have been praying for Casey & Jenn as they start a new life together. We also did a study on the Five Love Languages earlier this year in our group. Having an engaged couple in our group was nice, because it helped the married couples remember what that was like for them. We all remember the falling in love stage of our marriages. It is neat to see different perspectives on marriage and relationships within our group.

I love community and building relationships. It is where the Christian life is really lived out. A small group that is real and authentic with each other is a special thing. Not many people get to experience and do life together. This wedding was a small taste of doing life together. Here are some pictures to enjoy:

This is John & Jennifer Troyer and their children, Amanda, Haley, Mitchel and Olivia. They host our small group on Sunday nights. The other picture is Keith & Tami Stone and Ryan & Carla Yoss with my wife Vikki.

Vikki & I

BIG GIVE at NewPointe

I am so excited to be a part of the BIG GIVE at NewPointe Community Church. I enjoyed watching Oprah’s Big Give, but this is way better. We are asking our small group network (100 small groups) to go give to their communities. We are giving away 40,000.00 to our small groups to go give. I can’t wait to hear the stories of what these groups came up with and the lives they touched.

I shared this with my small group last night and we prayed about what God would have us do as a group. Each small group can get a gift of 400.00 to go give back. I challenged my group to raise some more money to be able to give even more. We started brainstorming ideas on how we can take the 400.00 and make it grow.

My group has been very generous already. We have given to two families in need. One over Christmas and the other over the past few months. We are hoping we can continue to bless and encourage these two families.

I am also hoping that some groups can go together and pool their resources to take on some larger projects. The impact this has on our surrounding community could be BIG. My prayer is that God is glorified through all of this. If any small group leader’s are looking for ideas, please contact me.

The local church should be known for it’s generosity and love to the community. We are the example of how people view God. If we are not reaching out and making a difference, why should people reach out to God? Why should they think that God cares about them?

The other awesome thing that has happened is that last month NewPointe sent checks out to 11 local school systems. What a great way to build a bridge and develop a relationship with the schools. I am excited about what doors this will open for NewPointe to partner with the schools and impact students and administrations. Instead of complaining about what the schools are doing wrong, we can encourage what they are doing right and find common ground. Then we can help to equip the schools to equip the students. One thing we can do is help develop leaders and build character in the schools systems. This is a great way to partner with schools and build relationships that will matter.

Are you ready to GIVE BIG!

My Weekend

Wow, what a weekend! It was a very busy Saturday and Sunday for me, but it was all good. It actually started on Friday night with a rehearsal for a wedding. Jason Schmachtenberger (try saying that fast) and Ashley Brooker got married on Saturday here at NewPointe. The rehearsal went well and we enjoyed a great meal afterward at the Pro’s table (that’s one of the perks of doing weddings).

On Saturday morning I met with my men’s group for 2 and half hours. We had some great conversations and really opened up to each other. It was one of those times that you lose track of time because you are so into the conversation. We have been connected and getting to know each other much better over the past 6 months. I look forward to just hanging out with these guys on Saturday mornings.

After that I met with an engaged couple to get them started on our mentoring process. It happened to by my cousin Missy Miller. I am so happy for them, Cliff & Missy are a great couple.

After that is was home to get changed for the wedding at 2:00 for Jason & Ashley. This was a fun wedding, they are both laid back and we had a lot of fun. This was the first wedding that I did that when I asked Jason if he takes Ashley to be his wife that he paused and then huddled with the guys first. Of course he said yes.

I shared with them that the Bible has much to teach us about relationships and marriage. Much like learning to dance we need to practice and learn the right steps. Three dance steps from the Bible include:
1. Watching your words (Proverbs 12:18 says Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing)
2. Settle your Disagreements (learn to work through conflict and don’t ignore it)
3. Practice Forgiveness ( Ephesians 4:32, Be forgiving one to another just as God in Christ has forgiven you)

Here are some pictures from the reception at the Amish Door in Wilmot (I attempted to line dance):




I also met a couple of great guys at the wedding, Ryan & Kenny (both attend Bowling Green University). We played a joke on Kenny by putting a huge amount of mashed potato’s on his plate when he left. After he ate a little of it he created a giant Hershey kiss with the potatoes (Very Creative). Here are some pictures:



We ended our week by going to church on Sunday. What an amazing service. Dwight really challenged us to trust God. After the service my small group went to help a family move up in Canton. Of course we had to eat first, so we went to Chipotle in Canton, now that’s good stuff! Our small group consists of John & Jennifer Troyer, Keith & Tami Stone and Vikki & I. We are going to GroupLink this Saturday to add one or two new couples to our group. Requirements to join our group included liking to eat and liking cats.

The family we helped was Jennifer Troyer’s sister. Laura has the grey sweatshirt on in the second picture and her husband Kevin has the Browns Sweatshirt on. They have two children, Jessica & Logan. Jennifer & Laura’s parents were their as well (Jennifer & Her parents are in the last photo).

I think they were very surprised that we would want to give up a Sunday afternoon to come and help them move. It was a real blessing to all of us to help them out. We love to serve together as a group. It helps us get to know each other better and make a difference in other peoples lives.