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Category Archives: Small Groups

Community is Still Messy

In the Beginning, God created. And with the sound of his voice, galaxies were hurled into orbit, light beamed from the heavens and waters covered the earth. Valleys dug deep and mountains sprung high. Birds flew in the air and … Continue reading

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How to Read the Bible: Community

Continuing the series from the message How to Read the Bible. Choose the right translation. Have a plan. Read in community. In the church, we elevate the concept of a “personal devotional life.” Many of the marks of a growing … Continue reading

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Why I Wrote Community is Messy

It was a familiar scene. Sitting, once again, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, with my own frustration about to send me into orbit. Wondering, once again…why am I writing this? For some reason, I had convinced a … Continue reading

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Leadership 101.4- Semester System

I’m posting content, videos, and questions from our online Leadership 101 training for new leaders. This is Part 4: The Semester System. At NCC, we do groups on the semester system. This allows groups to follow the natural rhythm of … Continue reading

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Boxes of Mess

I can’t escape the mess. Twenty years ago, I hauled around boxes of sampler bottles from Ben Hur Research Farm so I could run chemical analyses and determine biokinetic properties of the reactions in the swine farm treatment lagoon.  Today, … Continue reading

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Leadership 101.3- What Are Small Groups?

I’m posting content, videos, and questions from our online Leadership 101 training for new leaders. This is Part 3: What Are Small Groups? This video describes what small groups are and why we do them: God exists in community so … Continue reading

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Geeks and Geese

Looking for a small group? We’ve got one for you! Whether it’s geeking out over a challenging study or building friendships over games, we want to create environments where people can connect and grow. This is Part 2 of our … Continue reading

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Leadership 101.2- NCC Story

I’m posting content, videos, and questions from our online Leadership 101 training for new leaders. This is Part 2: The NCC Story: As a part of NCC, you are a shareholder in our church-wide vision. You are a part of … Continue reading

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Leadership 101.1- Go Make Disciples

I’m posting content, videos, and questions from our online Leadership 101 training for new leaders. This is Part 1: Go Make Disciples.  Leadership is the call to discipleship. In the Great Commission, Jesus commands us to make disciples, not find them. … Continue reading

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Leadership 101

We train our new leaders online. For a few years, I resisted that strategy. I thought it was important for potential leaders to be together in one room, for me to have face-to-face interaction, etc. But it was becoming harder … Continue reading

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Princess Parties and Football Games

Find a small group for you! We believe that community develops best around shared interests and activities– whether you are a princess or a quarterback. This amazing promotional video was developed with Team D Protege Andy Backus, Visual Storyteller Andy … Continue reading

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IF…

When I came on staff at National Community Church in January 2002, my first responsibility was to plan our first ever Leadership Retreat.  A decade later, I am now heading to my eleventh leadership retreat. I’m pretty sure it’s the … Continue reading

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Online Leadership 101

Two years ago, we blew up our small group system in a project called Operation Kaboom. One of the changes we made was in the way we offered initial training to potential small group leaders. Under the old system, potential … Continue reading

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Guns and Legos

Yesterday, my schedule included, “Leadership Covenant training, lego construction, gun range.” Yep, I’m a discipleship pastor. Here’s the deal. Our 3-hour Leadership 101, the initial online training that all NCC small group leaders are required to complete, is being updated. … Continue reading

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From the Archives: The Dreaded Question- Of or With?

This one is an oldie…and once got me in trouble with my good friend Bill Donahue. The Dreaded Question- Of or With? originally posted on February 3, 2006. Are you a church of small groups or a church with small … Continue reading

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Why You Should Be in a Small Group

I can tell someone they should be in a small group until I am blue in the face. I can stand up on a Sunday morning and speak commandingly and convincingly of the theological and sociological need for community. But … Continue reading

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God Anthology

We are kicking off a new sermon series, CD project, and small group curriculum at NCC this weekend. The God Anthology. Check it out here.

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The Story…2

For about six years, I’ve been leading something at NCC called The Story– through the chronological story of the Bible in three nights. Tonight, I’m going to continue The Story with the second part. The Story of the Church. Bruce … Continue reading

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Theology is Fun

Just wrapped up the last official night of lecture at Theology 101 this week. It’s been a great semester filled with lively banter and hungry nerdy minds. It’s been fun. We use two books: Who Needs Theology (Grenz) and Across … Continue reading

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The Food is Important

I’m convinced that food is far more important to our group experiences than we realize. It’s a natural icebreaker, it’s fun, it gets other people involved in contributing to the group, and debating the peccability or impeccability of Christ is … Continue reading

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Theology 101

Once a year, I teach our Theology 101 class at NCC, and behind The Story and Leadership Retreat, it’s probably my favorite part of the job. This semester, 40+ people registered for the group, which presented a new challenge. How … Continue reading

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This Ain’t FedEx

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I challenge you to be committed for the long haul. Once upon a time, someone … Continue reading

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Don’t Answer That Question

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, let’s focus on asking great questions. I used to think that my role as the … Continue reading

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Throw Away the Workbook

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I challenge you to throw away the workbook. The best conversations are not found in … Continue reading

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Normality is Not Normal

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I share one of my favorite lines from John Ortberg: Everyone is normal until you … Continue reading

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I Don’t Want to Go to Group…and I’m the Leader

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I acknowledge that there are times that I really don’t want to go to my … Continue reading

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Groups Are Stubborn

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the stubbornness of groups. Small groups are stubborn. Especially when it comes … Continue reading

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The Excitement Variable

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I want to point out that no one will be as excited about your group … Continue reading

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Community is Messy, Part 3: Spit

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the idea that community is messy. It requires our blood, sweat, and … Continue reading

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Community is Messy, Part 2: Sweat

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the idea that community is messy. It requires our blood, sweat, and … Continue reading

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Community is Messy, Part 1: Blood

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the idea that community is messy. It requires our blood, sweat, and … Continue reading

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The Small Group of One (or Two)

Team D– the NCC Discipleship Team– is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about what to do when no one shows up. My first small group … Continue reading

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What No One Told Me

Team D (that’s Josh, Maegan, Will, and me) are working on a little project: What No One Ever Told Me About Leading a Small Group. We are in “training mode” of Operation Kaboom, where we are trying to think about … Continue reading

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When the Mess is Of Your Own Creation

I’ve been talking for a while now on the topic Community is Messy. Usually, I share examples from the vantage point of a third-party observer of a mess, a consultant in the navigation of a mess, or the victim of … Continue reading

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A Good Icebreaker: The Concert

I have a love-hate relationship with the concept of icebreakers in small groups. I hate most of them. Can’t conversation over hummus and veggies break the ice enough? I do have a few favorites, though. Here is one: If you … Continue reading

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Carry the Mat

Community requires physical exertion. It costs us our sweat. One of my absolute favorite stories about the sweat of community is found in Mark, chapter 2. Mark 2:1-5 Several days later Jesus returned to Capernaum, and the news of his … Continue reading

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The Final Apologetic

On the night of his crucifixion, Jesus looked forward to that day. He prayed that his disciples would be “one.” (John 17:20-21) The second part of Jesus’ prayer was that “the world may know.” In a similar manner, Jesus told … Continue reading

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Jesus’ Dying Wish

Do you know what Jesus prayed for on the night of his betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion? Us. In John 17, we read one of the prayers that Jesus prayed for his disciples: “I am praying not only for these disciples … Continue reading

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Operation Kaboom- Connections

We blew up the small group structure at NCC, and when the dust settled, we discovered we had formed three teams– Connections, Coaching, and Training. The Connections Team oversees the logistical operations part of small group ministry. Will Johnston leads … Continue reading

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Operation Kaboom- The New Teams

Okay, back to my Operation Kaboom posts…it’s been a few weeks. So we blew up our small groups at National Community Church. After a process of re-thinking, re-imagining, and re-orienting vision, we decided to split NCC small group efforts, roles, … Continue reading

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Operation Kaboom- The Process

This is Part 2 of a series on NCC’s Operation Kaboom– our systematic dismantling, revisioning, and rebuilding of our small group ministry. The first step was to fire all existing zone leaders and team leaders. That sounds a bit harsh. … Continue reading

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Operation Kaboom- The Backstory

I’m going to start a series of posts about NCC’s Operation Kaboom– the systematic dismantling and rebuilding of our small group structure. The genesis of Kaboom was probably our Zone Leader/Team Leader retreat in November 2008, where we candidly discussed … Continue reading

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Training Module 2: Building Biblical Community

Creating Biblical Community from National Community Church on Vimeo. This is Module #2 of NCC’s Semester One Coaching Program. Watch the video (~12 minutes) and answer the following questions. Email your answers to your coach and schedule a coaching appointment … Continue reading

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Training Module 1: Leading Yourself Well

Leading Yourself Well from National Community Church on Vimeo. This is Module #1 of NCC’s Semester One Coaching Program. Watch the video (~12 minutes) and answer the following questions. Email your answers to your coach and schedule a coaching appointment … Continue reading

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Learn as Much as You Can

Whenever a brand new small group pastor asks me where to begin in establishing a small group program at their church, I encourage them to first learn as much as they can from the people they will serve. And then … Continue reading

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The Summit

I’m really excited about the upcoming Summit: A Convergence of Small Group Experts, spearheaded and hosted by one of my favorite experts- Rick Howerton- small group expert for Lifeway. Ten major leaders in the small group movement will be on … Continue reading

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Operation Ka-Boom

I thought it might be worth throwing out an update on Operation Kaboom. A number of churches have been asking what we are doing, how we are changing things, and when new stuff will roll out. Basically, Ka-Boom was launched … Continue reading

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What I Would Have Told Myself

On Wednesday night, I picked up two of my heroes from small group ministry world- Dave Treat and Russ Robinson– who are in town to do some consulting and speaking. We grabbed some dinner then gave them the tour of … Continue reading

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Strategic Small Group Conference

There’s still time to register for the Strategic Small Group Conference at Ebenezers Coffeehouse in Washington, DC on December 10-11, 2009. This is being offered at a very strategic time in our own growth at NCC (we are bringing them … Continue reading

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Book List- Discipleship and Small Groups

A few folks requested that I post book lists from previous focus years. In 2005, I focused on learning all I could about discipleship and small groups. This is not a comprehensive list (and some of them were read before/after … Continue reading

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