Sunday, December 13, 2009

What is a Flock Leader?

Since HBC introduced the flock leader role 5+ years ago, God has blessed Men’s Ministry with many gifted flock leaders. But I sense there are still questions about the flock leader role. So let’s answer some of those.

What is a flock leader?

  • Advocate for small group model, purpose and vision
  • Resource for small group leaders for support and escalation
  • Main ministry is to the small group leaders in their flock in the spirit of 1 Peter 5:2-4 … shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

What is the biblical basis for a flock leader?

  • OT: Jethro tells Moses in Exodus 18:13-26 to look for able, trustworthy men who fear God to watch over the people as chiefs of 1000s, of 100s, of 50s, of 10s
  • NT: 2 Timothy 2:2
    … and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

What are the expectations for flock leaders?

  • Visit small groups in their flock every 2-3 months
  • Provide feedback to small group leaders
  • Ongoing development of small group leaders (via leadership book and/or Bible study in monthly meeting with flock SGLs and 1:1 meetings, calls, emails)
  • Identify and help develop apprentices into small group leaders
  • Provide monthly flock leader report to Joel and Dan in Small Group Online

Hopefully that helps you understand the flock leader role and responsibilities and prompts all of us to pray for and support our flock leaders.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Small Group Confronts Sexual Sin - Tools

A few weeks ago in response to Pastor James’ message on the letter to the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29), I challenged you to make sure your small group confronts sexual sin. What steps can we take to cut off sexual sin in our lives and in the lives of our small group members? What resources are available?

  1. Set guard rails far back from the cliff – See Pastor James' "5 Moral Fences" article (http://www.harvestrollingmeadows.org/Content/4/181688.pdf)
  2. Examine current behaviors – Purity Questions from Pastor James' message "Convicted on Purity" from August 2006 (http://www.harvestrollingmeadows.org/Content/4/183856.pdf)
  3. Repent and invite accountability - Asking for accountability and receiving it is a fruit of repentance.
  4. Support one another and hold each other truly accountable – CRAMP accountability model (http://www.harvestrollingmeadows.org/Content/4/176131.pdf)

Remember all men’s small groups are to use the CRAMP model for accountability. Ask your flock leader, one of the FOCIS leaders, Joel or me if you need help in getting the CRAMP accountability model going in your small group. If one of your small group members is enslaved to sexual immorality, get them in the Living Free ministry in FOCIS.

God’s word tells us to guard our hearts and to flee from sexual immorality.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Continue to lead your small group in confronting sexual sin.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Small Group Confronts Sexual Sin

Unless you were snoozing through worship this past weekend - and I don’t know how you could have - you heard loud and clear in the "Jesus Confronts Sexual Sin" message from Revelation 2:18-29 that Jesus - and Pastor James - is pretty serious about sexual purity. The question is whether your small group is serious about sexual purity. Does your small group confront sexual sin?

You might wonder how a small group can or even if a small group should confront sexual sin. Remember Jesus said in Revelation 2:20, "But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality …" Our small groups cannot be a place where we tolerate anything associated with sexual immorality. But if you are not regularly asking accountability questions around sexual purity, your small group may be tolerating such things.

So what should you be asking? Use the HBC accountability questions as a base (e.g., explicit materials, been with a woman) and build from there. I used a Men@War on sexual purity a few years ago to push a higher level of accountability on sexual purity within our small group. All the men agreed to be transparent and truly accountable and to ask and answer accountability questions in this area every week -- including specific questions for each man based on what God had convicted them of at Men@War.

Use the message this past week as a catalyst to do the same thing with your group. Start with the "5 Things Tolerated in Christian Homes that Shouldn’t Be." Take the lead and confront sexual sin in your small group.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Can Flock Leaders Visit Small Groups Too Often?

Why would I even pose that question? Flock leaders are expected to visit the small groups in their flock regularly and have to visit groups to know how the groups are functioning, to see the status of their flock and to be able to give encouraging and stretching feedback to the small group leaders in their flock. So should you really be concerned about visiting the small groups in your flock too often?

Yes, you should be concerned about this. Have you ever been given a new role or job and the corresponding responsibility only to have the person who used to be in that role – or your boss – not give you the leeway to grow into and function completely in the role? That is the concern with flock leaders visiting small groups too often. While the small group leader needs your support, feedback and exhortation, he also needs room to lead the group and to be seen as the leader by the small group members. That means you as the flock leader need to get out of the way.

The flock leader role is not easy. It has a different rhythm than being a small group leader. It doesn't look the same week to week. And it carries a higher level of accountability. But flock leaders need to be purposeful in letting the small group leaders be the actual leaders of their groups.

While the small group leader’s primary ministry is to their small group members, a flock leader’s primary ministry is to the small group leaders in their flock. Step in when needed. Be there to help your small group leaders with issues. And push your small group leaders to grow in their walk, in leadership and in conducting a vibrant, reproducing small group that follows the HBC model.

But give them room to be the leaders of their small groups.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Highest Common Denominator

Remember grade school mathematics and the concept of the lowest (or least) common denominator? You had to look at a set of fractions and determine the lowest common denominator (that number on the bottom) so you could process the fractions. I was reminded recently of how our society and its entertainment suppliers quickly go to the lowest common denominator to get a laugh as a co-worker talked about the latest R-rated, raunchy summer comedy while we waited for others to join a conference call.

How are Christians to counteract lowest common denominator thinking? How are we to get past the just getting by, doing the minimum, least/lowest common denominator walk? By spurring one another on to love and good works (Hebrews 10.24-25), exhorting one another daily (Hebrews 3:12-13) and pointing to the highest common denominator, Jesus Christ – the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Scripture tells us we are to imitate God (Ephesians 5.1), that we are being conformed into Jesus' likeness (Romans 8.29, the often left-out continuation of that Christian favorite "God works all things together for our good" Romans 8.28). We need the Holy Spirit to lead as we work to imitate our Lord. And we need our brothers chasing after that goal with us, encouraging, exhorting, training for godliness (1 Timothy 4.7) together and holding each other to the highest common denominator, our Master. Jesus is the standard. He is our pursuit.

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:28-29)

Set the bar high. Go after the highest common denominator in your walk and in your small group.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bread over Circuses

The food critic (great gig, huh?) on one of the local TV stations used to rate the restaurants on bread (i.e., the food) and circuses (i.e., the atmosphere). What if your small group was rated on bread and circuses?

That idea struck me as I listened to Todd Dugard, the HBC Barrie Senior Pastor, teach on the HBC preaching pillar (Proclaiming the authority of God's word without apology) at Harvest U at the end of April. As Todd talked about the centrality of God's word, it struck me that our small groups need to emphasize bread (God's word) over circuses (i.e., creativity or entertainment value). Certainly we need to create a welcoming atmosphere for small group members. But that cannot be our focus as we prepare to lead the group or during the group meeting.

We need to be combing through God's word in preparation for the meeting. We should teach our small group members to do the same. And we need to make sure our small group meetings don't go too many minutes at one stretch without someone reading from or quoting from God's word.

In Matthew 4 Jesus fought the temptations of Satan with the following: "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" As leaders entrusted with ministry for the King and His kingdom, we must do the same and teach our men to do the same. We must feed on the word of God daily. And we must point the men in our care to feed on the word of God daily and to look to it for direction, answers, comfort, peace and reassurance.

So as your small group meets this next week, make it bread over circuses.

Friday, June 12, 2009

WANTED: FAT Christians

If you attended Small Group Leadership 101 at HBC years ago, you heard us say we are looking for FAT people in our small groups. FAT = Faithful, Available, Teachable. While that comment made people giggle or gasp, it was easy to remember. So why are we looking for FAT people in our small groups? What does FAT look like?

FAT people are faithful to the group, in the spiritual disciplines (regular quiet time in God's word, prayer, scripture memorization) and most importantly to the Lord. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul tells Timothy to entrust what Paul has taught him to "faithful men."

FAT people are available. They show up for group, for prayer nights and work for Christ opportunities. They are available for the Lord, for His work and for their next assignment.

Finally FAT people are teachable. This might be the hardest one. Who of us in our flesh is teachable? But in the Spirit, we are to be humble and most certainly teachable. Being teachable, open to and even hungering for godly change is at the core of sanctification. Will they take godly counsel and implement it in their lives? Have they moved away from comfortable patterns to grow in their walk? Do they submit to the elders of the church and to the leaders in small group ministry? In 2 Timothy 2:2, Timothy is to teach faithful men as Paul has taught him. Timothy was teachable. He was to look for FAT people.

The end of 2 Timothy 2:2 – who will be able to teach others also – explains why we look for FAT people to be apprentice small group leader(s). FAT people reproduce. So do what Paul did. Find FAT people and help them develop into small group leaders who will reproduce. And watch God multiply the ministry.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Are You a Disciple of Christ? (Part 1)

If you have been at Harvest Bible Chapel for any length of time, you are familiar with our model of a disciple of Jesus being someone who Worships Christ, Walks with Christ and Works for Christ. Last Memorial Day weekend, I came across another model for a disciple of Christ. Kim & I were worshipping at a small church (Community Church) in Fish Creek, WI. The pastor was a Moody grad who I estimate had been faithfully serving the Lord for going on 5 decades of full-time ministry. And that was such an encouragement to both Kim and me since our youngest son, Alex, had just the month before been accepted to Moody to study to become a youth pastor. This man had just been at Moody’s pastor conference and had a renewed zeal for the gospel and for leading his church to make an impact for Christ.

For whatever reason, I hung on to the bulletin from that service. And I noticed another model for a disciple of Christ at the bottom of the bulletin:

“A disciple is someone called to live IN Christ, equipped to live LIKE Christ, and sent to live FOR Christ.”

(Apparently that model is from Patrick Morley. I haven’t read his Man in the Mirror books but I found this same model on his web site.)

But what really struck me about the model at the bottom of the bulletin was that it was followed by a question: Are you a disciple of Christ?

While there is the all-important, eternity-defining, Jesus as Savior and Lord, gospel portion of that question, there is a different way for those of us who know the Lord, who belong to the Lord to look at that question. Do I fulfill the job description? Am I living for Christ? Am I going back to Him and to His word to be continually equipped? Would someone else looking at me take me for a disciple of Jesus Christ? More importantly, would my Master, the One I say I follow say I am His disciple?

I think of Jesus asking Peter in Matthew 16:15, “But who do you say I am?” That is the most important question we will ever answer. But for those of us who have by the grace of God already answered that question with a resounding “You are the Christ!” how would we answer the question posed at the bottom of that church bulletin? Can you answer it positively today? How do we answer it daily?

Are you a disciple of Christ?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Small Group in the Dark

Have you ever been in a basement when the power went out? There is little if any light. You cannot see what is going on; you have to feel your way through the room or just stand still until the lights come back on.

Now imagine trying to conduct a small group in that dark basement. It would be crazy. You wouldn’t know who was there, whether they were paying attention, etc. Well, if we as leaders fail to bring God’s word to our small group meetings and let it shine brightly throughout the meeting, we might as well be having small group in the dark. And as Dave Harvey writes in the final chapter of Why Small Groups, “it’s easy to look good in the dark.” Without the light of God’s word, we can easily just discuss what sounds good to us. Our small group members can easily hide sins. We can look pretty good to everyone – except God.

Psalm 119:105 tells us we need the light of God’s word to know what steps to take & to stay on the path with Him: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

In his first epistle, John makes it clear that we need to walk in the light of God & His word to have true fellowship: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

Make sure you aren’t running small group in the dark. It doesn’t matter what time of day your group meets. You need to bring the Light to the meeting.