Individual Believers, Churches, Small Groups…. if it has to do with Christ, It Is Missional!

Being “missional” or “missional living” is a term that in essence describes a lifestyle that is devoted to the “mission” (or “purpose”) of Christ.   Being missional includes embracing the posture, the thinking, behaviors, and practices of the Master.  Hence, a follower of Jesus whose intent it is to emulate their master in everyday living is being missional.  The “mission” or life-purpose of the missional Jesus follower becomes to be like the master every day – 24/7.  Individual believers may be missional and whole congregations (churches) may be missional in order to reach others with the message of the gospel.  The basic premise is that all Christians should be involved in the Great Commission of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).

Essentially, the idea of being missional teaches that the church has a mission because Jesus had a mission and transferred that mission to his followers before his ascension (see John 20:21). There is only one mission and that is God’s (Christ’s) mission.  A “missional church is a community of God’s people that defines itself and organizes its life around its real purpose – that of being an agent of God’s mission to the world.  In other words, the church’s true and authentic organizing principle is Christ’s mission or “commission” (see Matthew 28:18-20). When believers and the corporate body of believers (the church) are prioritizing daily life and living based upon Christ’s mission, he/she/they are being the true church (scripturally).

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LET US EACH CHOOSE TO BE MISSIONAL FOLLOWERS OF JESUS!

God Help us to be Missional

Hurts & Conflict are Necessary to build REAL Relationships — When We Handle them Correctly!

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that all the best things in life are people. Don’t lose sight of this in the middle of the little hurts, wounds and misunderstandings that are the price of admission to the beauty of relationship. We are FAMILY – and #asfamilywego

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MORE FROM RICK HOWERTON…………….SPIRITUAL GIFTS… A QUOTE TO CONSIDER

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Spiritual gifts create the synergy that turns a small group into a Christian community.”

The body of Christ is made up of many parts. Some are teachers, some administrators, some prayer warriors, some apostles, some encouragers, etc… When each person in a group knows their spiritual gift/gifts and exercises those gifts for the good of the group an unearthly synergy is created, a synergy that is of the Holy Spirit and that transforms a group into a Christian community.

SO, TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK?   EMAIL OR MESSAGE ME!

Authentic Worship … Authentic Community … LET’S GET REAL AS WE DO LIFE TOGETHER!

Watch this short video!

The GOAL, MISSION, PURPOSE, REASON for the Small Groups Ministry at Chapel Hill.

Whether it is on Sunday morning, Sunday night, or any other day of the week at any time (my new small group is meeting on Wednesdays at 5 AM), here is the motivational reason we do traditional and new model small groups at CHBC.  This is OUR VISION for small groups.

“A Biblical small group for every person within Tuscaloosa County that is making disciples that make disciples.”

WHY?

Because Christians do not grow in maturity of faith and walk outside of Community.  Community is more than a group of people coming to the same room/place on a regular basis.  Community is a trustworthy and dependable group of Christians that do life together; supporting each other, holding each other accountable, and growing in their faith together as they experience the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in daily living.

MORE FROM RICK HOWERTON’S BLOG:

THREE TYPES OF SMALL GROUP LEADERS… WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

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In my experience, there are three types of small group leaders… 1) Organizational, 2) Educational, and 3) Transformational. Every group leader needs to understand that there is only one type of group leader that accomplishes the primary expectation of Jesus, to make disciples.

The Organizational Leader has as their goal to make sure the group is efficient. This person spends much time making lists, creating schedules, and hosting meetings of leadership teams. This person often gives too much time to these three things.

The Educational Leader has as their goal to make sure the group is gaining knowledge. This person spends much time preparing to lead the Bible study. This type of leader has on their shelves (or favorited in his web browser) commentaries, study bibles, and any other books that aid them in preparing. This group leader type will spend as much time as necessary, up to 15 hours a week in many instances, in study so that they can TEACH those in his group. This person often gives an immense amount of time to preparing to lead a bible study and, in the process, makes amateur theologians but seldom makes mature disciples.

The Transformational Group Leader has as their goal to see group members shaped into Christ’s image. This person spends much of their time meeting with group members, being with them in various settings so they can model Christlikeness for them, studying the Word of God enough to be able to guide the Bible study conversation to application, and praying for them. The transformational group leader realizes that they aren’t the catalyst to transformation, rather the Holy Spirit is, and so the transformational group leader gives the bulk of the time they have as a group leader praying passionately for God to do what only He can do in those they’re shepherding.

Transformational Leadership should be the primary leadership style of every group leader. When this becomes number one and organizing the group and educating the group are put in their rightful place, the group leader will find their leadership identity, not in being efficient or in being scholarly but in seeing group members lives transformed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ.

CONNECT IN LIFE-GROUPS OCTOBER 18 THRU NOVEMBER 29

These groups are open and welcoming of all comers.  Don’t be shy, come and experience community!

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A Word From One of THE Brothers in Small Group Ministry Life: Rick Howerton

Answering the Most Important Small Group Ministry Question… Why Groups?

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When my sons were kids the word “why” was the word of words. It seemed to accompany any conversation. And oftentimes, it led us down paths that were never ending. The word why, in the eyes of a child, simply leads to another question… Why? That is, unless God is the author of the answer to the question.

Oftentimes, in the groups world, we focus our attention on the “how” question. I’ve noticed that the most read blog posts on this blog and the most well attended conferences I lead are answering the how question. The problem with this mentality… Until we know the answer to the why question, we’ll focus our energies on getting tasks completed instead of giving our hearts to changing lives and making the Gospel known through groups.

Why do groups? There are many reasons to do groups. A few stand out above all others and one ends the conversation.

  • A group the perfect place for people who are unbelievers to see believers doing life together and realize that God has done something extraordinary in their hearts.
  • A group the perfect place for people who are unbelievers to hear the Word of God taught and have the opportunity to process it with believers who can answer their questions.
  • A group is the perfect place for believers to learn what God expects of them and be held accountable for doing that thing.
  • A group is the perfect place for an individual or married couple to get wise counsel when making difficult decisions or when struggling relationally.
  • A group is the perfect place for anyone to be accepted as they are realizing every other group member is on a journey to become more like Jesus.
  • A group is the perfect setting for believers to confess sin to one another (James 5:16), be prayed for, and be reminded of God’s unending grace.
  • A group is the perfect (and maybe the only) place where accountability is welcomed and received without reservation.
  • A group is the perfect place for individuals to find out what their spiritual gifts are and learn to utilize them for the good of the body of Christ.
  • A group is the perfect place for leaders to be recognized, acknowledged, equipped, and empowered.

But there is one answer to the “Why do groups?,” question that trumps all others. The simple and most important answer to the, “Why do groups?” question is simply this… God told us to. (Acts 2:46)

And thus ends the conversation.

ARE YOU CONNECTED? IT’S A MATTER OF COMMUNITY!

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The dictionary defines “community” as, “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.  God’s Word defines community as, “43 A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. 45 And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need.46 Day after day they met in the temple [area] continuing with one mind, and breaking bread in various private homes. They were eating their meals together with joy and generous hearts, 47 praising God continually, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:43-47, Amplified)  

The life of a born-again person, a Christ-follower — a Christian —  is never described anywhere in the New Testament as a life that is lived in solitude or outside of the community of believers.  Even the Apostles lived within the community of the churches they established and within the greater context of the church universal – often deferring to the Elders of the church in Jerusalem for authoritative guidance.

Community among Christians is a supernatural occurrence.  The same Holy Spirit comes to dwell within every regenerate person.  Regardless of mixed ethnicity, language, culture, or socio-economics, the same Holy Spirit in-dwells true Christians and creates an understanding fellowship that the scripture calls “koinania.”  If you have ever traveled to a country or region where the believers do not speak your native language and worshiped and prayed with Christian believers there, you will have experienced that oneness and unity in worship and prayer. Even though you might not have understood the words being spoken, you understood completely what was being said and done.  Personally, I love worshiping with brothers and sisters in a language that I do not know.  I find that I have a more pure and undistracted time of exalting my Lord and King.  The koinania fellowship of believers is truly a gift and a blessing from the Lord.

And for those of us who find ourselves in congregations of believers and in smaller groups of believers who study, pray, and worship in our own native tongue, the experience of koinania — of Community — is no less real.  Notice the Acts 2 passage above, notice what happened to the individual believers who were living in community.  (1) They experienced a sense of awe at what God was doing.  (2) They had all things in common — they took care of each other’s physical needs.  (3) They worshiped God together day after day, not just once or twice a week.  (4) They met in large groups of people at the temple area and in smaller groups of people in their homes to break bread and study more fully the teaching of the Apostles.  (5) They ate together with joy and they praised God continually in their hearts.  (6) God gave them favor with the people outside of their fellowship.  (7) The Lord added to their number daily new people who were being saved.

Christian COMMUNITY is what life is all about for the Jesus-follower.  No believer can grow in their relationship with God on their own – in isolation.  For His own reasons and purposes, God has created and designed us to experience Him and each other within the context of COMMUNITY as we “do life together.”  It is within our smaller groups of community that we can encourage each other as we experience the real circumstances of daily living.  It is within our smaller groups of community that we can spur one another on in our growth and pursuance of following the Master and becoming more like Him.  It is within our smaller groups of community that we minister to each others physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  And, it is within our smaller groups of community that we have accountability in our daily life from those whom we can trust and who love us and understand us.  God designed all of this to occur within small groups of community in the church at large.

This is the value of a small group, whether it meets on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, or any other time or day of the week.  We really do need each other, we really do need Christ in each other.  Don’t try to live life on your own.  Don’t try to live a Christian life on your own.  It cannot be done.  God did not create His Church as a corral for lone-rangers.  Instead, God created His Church to be a living entity made up of many smaller groups of believers who are living life together as they walk with Jesus Christ.

This is also why your small group and your participation in your small group is crucial, even vital, to your knowing the
Christ who has saved you.  Invest your time and your life in the lives of the others in your small group and see what begins to happen as your all experience Christian Community together!  AND, if you are reading this and you are not involved in a smaller group of believers, why wait another day?  Contact one of your pastors today and run to become a participating member of a small group where you can experience Community.  I guarantee that if you will do this, you will see God do incredible things in your life!

Connected-OnesAre You Connected?  For the Christ-follower, being connected is everything that defines this life.

In The Midst of the Stream

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I love mountain streams.  Any stream that cascades over worn rock, running through boughs of Mountain Laurel that have grown over the branch, forming a living tunnel through which the water tumbles ever onward and down the mountainside.  Whether small and narrow or broad and wide, these streams roar with “the voice of many waters.” (Rev. 1:15)   I can always hear these streams long before I see them.  But hearing them, oh how they draw me to themselves like a moth to a candle flame.  My soul yearns for the stream as yet not sighted.

I don’t understand this and I don’t really have a logical explanation.  It is not enough for me to go to one of these mountain streams; no, I want to get in these streams; to sit in their midst and let the swirling water rush past me.  I don’t mean that I like to sit “in” the water; these streams are freezing no matter what time of the year.  No, I am drawn to mountain streams because they are always full of rocks and boulders.  These granite laden branches are why I love the Great Smokey and the Blue Ridge mountains so much.  If anything defines this place, it is the preponderance of boulder and rock laden waterways.

Somehow, in a way I don’t understand and cannot really explain, I connect with God when I sit on a rock in the middle of one of these streams on the mountainside.  The beauty, the raw power, the majesty and yet simplicity of the moment is humbling.  I sit and listen to the roar of the passing water – of water smashing into and rushing past solid stone; and I think of God.

If, when I’m in a place like this, I can also look up and see the sun’s rays beaming through the branches and leaves of the trees overhead; that’s when I think “surely heaven must be like this – only better.”  God’s Word tells us that the “heavens declare the glory of God.”  Well, not only the heavens, but the mountains as well!  The mountains declare the glory of God.  And, the lowly rambling streams that bounce and twitter around stone and boulder shout at the top of their lungs – “GOD!”  “God did this!”  “God is worthy of your praise, your glory…your all!”

I pray that my soul will always be drawn to the testimony of God that lives in His creation.  I pray that I will always be drawn to sit in the middle of the rushing waters.  For, I know that I will always be able to talk to my Father there.  More importantly, I will be forced to listen.   “1As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God?”  (Psalm 42:1-2)