I love lists like this.
July is often a time many ministry leaders rest. For years it has been a time when I have taken some extra time to slow down, read more, vacation with my girls, and not go to the office as much. Whether you rest in July or not, you do need to rest. Rest is not an option; it is a command. When the Lord instituted the Sabbath in the Old Testament, He was declaring that His people must rest. Their resting was commanded so they would remember His rescue of them, that they were slaves in Egypt but the Lord brought them out of there “with a strong hand and an outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 5:15). In the same away, as we rest, we are able to reflect on His goodness to us as He has rescued us from the captivity of our sin and foolishness.
When we read Scripture, we’ll notice a ton of ways that Jesus is described. Some have to do with his nature (who he is) and some have to do with his ministry (what he does). To understand the most crucial aspects of Jesus’s life and ministry, we have to understand five things about him.
Small group. Home group. Life group. Missional community. Whatever you call the gathering of an intimate number of believers outside of corporate worship, the goal is the same: fellowship and encouragement around God’s Word.
Yet we can easily miss the mark. Despite our best intentions, we often get sidetracked and forget the reason we’ve gathered. Sometimes we’d rather pursue what’s easier and more comfortable, but this approach lacks transforming power to draw us nearer to God and each other.
Small group has a goal, and we’d do well not to miss it. Here are eight ways we often miss the point of small groups.
When I think of a sluggard or a slothful person I typically picture a scraggly-bearded dude passed out on the couch in his mustard stained sleeveless with remote in hand. I’m not alone in this either. Do an image search for sluggard and you are going to find a similar image. Even good ol’ Ben Franklin had the sluggard sleeping as well when he said, “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough.”
I can still remember what feelings ran through me as I stared out the window trying not to cry. My mom was gently telling me how the kid in my class who told me how babies were made was technically right, but not in the way I was thinking. I recall my mom being angry at that kid for giving me information I wasn’t ready for yet. Even to this day, if I say his name, she sits up straight and has to calm herself down.
I understand why she was so mad now that I have kids. If a child told my kids the same thing, I’m not sure I could restrain my anger. So, I decided to do something about that and tell my children before the world could. We should establish ourselves as experts on the subject matter and need to be the ones our kids go to when they have questions about sex. We can do this by giving them the information before anyone else can get to them. I just had the sex talk with my oldest son. Here’s what I discovered.
A favorite from the archives:
Illustrations are funny things. Some people absolutely hate them. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, for example, comes down pretty hard on them in Preaching and Preachers. Others absolutely love them. A number of preachers seem to spend almost more time putting together illustrations than explaining their text.
Personally, I really appreciate good illustrations. A good illustration connects with the hearer; but don’t find it terribly interesting when a message is basically a long series of them that don’t really have a lot to do with the text being preached. They really can make or break people’s understanding of your message.
So what makes for a good illustration?