Small Groups on Mission

First things first. I’d like to buy you dinner. Got your attention? Okay, more on that later. One of the things that drew me to small group ministry was the inherent potential housed in small groups that is just waiting to be released. I can see a day when small groups of relationally connected people who love God and one another are locking arms and venturing out on mission, both locally and globally. I can see a day when that is part of the regular rhythm of group life at LifePoint. Our values of Growing in our walk with God, Caring for one another and Serving should propel us outward into a world in need with the message and love of the Gospel. A small group can be a serious force in the Kingdom of God.

There are other ways that small groups can impact the missional landscape. Here’s one: I’d like to introduce you to Taylor Dukehart. She attends LifePoint and is in the process of building her support team so she can serve in North Africa with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ). She’d love the opportunity to visit with your group so you could get to know her, pray for her as she prepares for her time in North Africa and prayerfully consider being a part of her support team.

Summer makes a great time to break from the norm in your small group. I’d like to ask you to consider having Taylor to your group to share about her upcoming trip and her heart and vision. I’m thinking it would be cool if you demonstrated hospitality to her by inviting her to a cookout with your group.

So, here’s what I’d like to do. If you’d like for Taylor to visit with your group to share her heart for North Africa the Small Group Ministry would like to purchase the meat for your cookout. Contact me, and I will put you in touch with Taylor. Once you’ve had the cookout, turn your receipt in to myself or Lois Schraf and we’ll get you a reimbursement check. It’s that simple. Oh. Please steer clear of filets and lobster. Let’s try to keep the meat budget to $50.

If you’d like to invite her to your group, but want to skip the cookout, that’s fine too! My goal is to introduce you to Taylor and then see what God would have you do from there.

Please contact me at and let me know what God might be prompting you to do.




Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


Walk Thru Your Bible

How sweet Your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Psalm 119:103

Imagine if you could help your Small Group learn the entire Old Testament in about the time it takes to watch an Orioles game. Imagine if at the end of that time your group members could summarize the story of the Old Testament in 3 minutes. That would be pretty amazing, wouldn’t it? If we want people to live and apply God’s Word they first have to know what it says. That’s where Walk Thru the Bible comes in.

Watch this and then check out the details and link below.

Grace Community Church in Fulton MD is hosting Walk Thru the Old Testament on:

  • Sunday, June 3 (6pm-9pm) &
  • Monday, June 4 (7pm-9:30pm)

*Please keep in mind that this is a two day event (5 hours total).

For more details about this great opportunity and/or to register, click here: Walk Thru the Bible at Grace.


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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


Identifying and Investing in Emerging Leaders

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 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. 2 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)

Leading a Small Group is hard. It can be a lot of fun, and it is one of the most rewarding things you can do; but let’s face it. It is not convenient or easy. It requires you to give up freedom of time and action for the sake of others. It requires taking on a certain level of responsibility for the growth and development of others. It requires extra work, less sleep, and more accountability. So, it might seem a little ridiculous to suggest that in the midst of this we would ask you to identify emerging leaders and invest in them. Why would we add this to your load and how could we reasonably expect you to make it work on top of everything else you are doing?

Fair question. First, identifying emerging leaders and investing in them is not as difficult or time consuming as it seems. Second, not only is it something that can be even more rewarding than leading a group, it is something that can make leading a group easier. Third, we have set up the Small Group Ministry so that we can partner with you in investing in new leaders and provide tools and opportunities that will make investing in leaders something we do together rather than something you do on your own. This month we want to spend a little time talking about why it’s important to identify and invest in leaders and how we can approach it in a way that is not overwhelming.

Why Should We Identify and Invest in Emerging Leadership?

1. We are commanded to do it – Jesus’ final command to us (and by virtue of this fact, one of His most important) was to make disciples “in our goings” (Matthew 28:19-20). That is, as we go about our day-to-day business, we should be making Christ-followers out of the people God brings along our path. Investing in people on a deeply personal level is not optional; it is required (if we want to be disciples ourselves). If we love Jesus, then we will love people and want them to know Him more.

2. Someone did it for you – I don’t know of any self-made Christ-followers. I know people who came to believe in Jesus by just reading the Bible, but learning to follow Him requires relationships. If you have reached the point of leading a Small Group, chances are that someone along the way invested in you. Think of the people in your life who have shown you what it means to live for Jesus and have poured His love into your life. Think about the difference it has made in your life. You have the opportunity to make that difference for someone else.

3. Emerging leaders are also ministry partners – While investing in emerging leaders is almost entirely about the good of another, there are some very real practical advantages. If you are investing in developing someone for leadership, you will need to give away ministry to them. In so doing you lighten the load. Not only can they help you with your small group, they are there in relational support. Ministry can be a lonely place at times; having a partner can make a huge difference.

How to Identify and Invest in Emerging Leadership

1. Just do what you do – Identifying and investing in leaders begins with leading your small group. As you grow together as a community, there will be loads of opportunities to invest in people within the context of just doing group. Your small group provides an environment for you to get to know the people in your group on deeper levels. You have opportunities to ask people questions, pray for each other, and give away ministry opportunities in regular group activities. This is investing in people, and if you are already doing this, you are already investing and developing leaders.

2. Pray, Pray, Pray – Perhaps the most significant way you can invest in the members of your group is to pray for them. Prayer is so powerful for it brings the very power of the Holy Spirit of God to bear on your small group. Not only will it impact the lives of those in your group, prayer will put you in touch with the heart of God for your group members.

2.  Look for F.A.T. people – But how do you identify who the emerging leaders are in your group? As you do what you are already doing in your group, look for the people who are F.A.T.: Faithful, Available, and Teachable. Faithful? Do they show up for things and follow through with responsibilities? Available? Do they have time to meet and talk? Teachable? Do they respond well to the insight of others? Do they seek out input from others? If someone God has put in your group or life demonstrates these traits, they are just waiting for you to invest in them in more direct ways and we want to help you with that (more on that below).

2. Invest relationally – I think one of the things that is so overwhelming about the idea of investing in someone is this feeling that we have to have all the answers or follow some kind of format or program. Having talked to many leaders about people who invested in them, not one of them mentioned a program or specific lesson that they learned from a mentor. Each and every one of them talked about presence. What made the difference was the long term presence of that person in their lives and the love they felt from them – not any curriculum or program. You don’t need to have all the answers or even feel like you know what you are doing. You just need to be willing to invest a little time into someone the way someone did for you. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Discipleship is more caught than taught.

3. Make small investments – Small investments can make a huge difference over time. Investing in someone can take place over coffee once every other month; over dinner once a month before group (if you rotate this, it is a great way to invest in everyone); or in a 20 minute phone call on the way home from work. As you invest relationally, give away bigger bits of your ministry to share the leadership load.

4. Take advantage of us – We are here to partner with you to invest in others and we want to make investing in leaders as easy and as joyful as possible. Investing in leaders is the most important thing we do. This is why we put so much of our time and resources into LifeSupport. Your LS Group is a great resource. If you have an emerging leader, invite him/her to come with you and let your LS invest and encourage with you. Go through the ServePoint study to help your group members identify and invest their gifts. And of course there is Group Launch as a way to invest in new leaders, where we play a major role in resourcing and training the new leader to ensure they are fully supported.

How awesome would it be to identify and encourage new leaders in your group as you do life together; invest in them for a time through small personal interactions and your LS Group; walk with them through the Group Launch Process (attend Inform with them and stay in touch through the process to encourage them); and then find yourself sitting across from a fellow Group Leader when its all said and done in what is now their LS group as well as yours?


1. Think of a person who really went out of their way to invest in you. How did they make you feel? What difference have they made in your life?

2. What reservations do you have about this whole idea of making disciples and investing in leaders?

3. What are some ways that you can be more deliberate about investing in everyone in your group just within the context of your normal group activities? What are some simple things you could add on that would not overwhelm you?

4. Who comes to mind in your group when you think of potential leaders? Who are the people in your group or in your path who God might be calling you to invest in more directly? Are they F.A. T.? Why is that important?

5. How could you invest in this person in a way that will not overwhelm you? What are some creative possibilities that would allow you to invest relationally and be a deliberate presence in their life? How could you give away ministry to them?

Mike Hipsley

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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


How To Keep A Small Group Small (the art of subgrouping)

After reading last months post on Group Size, a friend smiled and said, “It’s more art than science isn’t it.” He was right, and when it comes to successfully sub-grouping, his observation rings even truer. So get ready to exercise the left side of your brain as we discuss the art of sub-grouping.

Sub-grouping is temporarily dividing one group into two or more groups, and the emphasis is on the idea of “temporarily.” If your group sub-groups from the start of a meeting to the finish, that’s really just two groups meeting at the same time and location, and that is not what we’re after when we talk about sub-grouping. In fact, the goal is not to make two groups out of one, the real goal is to increase a sense of closeness and connectivity that leads to individual personal growth within the small group.

For this reason, we want to encourage you to begin sub-grouping early in the life of your group and to do so frequently. As always, we expect leaders to lead through God’s perfect and creative wisdom. Mix up your sub-grouping strategy as needed to keep things fresh.

Here are a few ideas and strategies:

Stage ISub-group for 30 minutes or less.

  • Set aside time near the end of group and split up men and women for a time of connection and prayer.
  • If you routinely share a meal, consider setting two tables – stage the meal with an icebreaker question, or a short discussion on the sermon notes.
  • Depending on your study, you may find it helpful to divide into two discussion groups for a portion of the questions. Many studies finish with application questions – that’s a nice break and it allows time to refresh the coffee cups, grab dessert and divide into two or more groups. This can be done by gender or in couples – think creatively and change the makeup of your sub-groups periodically.

Stage II Utilize sub-grouping strategies for about half of your group time.

In our small group, we currently spend the first 15 minutes gathered together socializing as people arrive and make final food preparations. We then sit down and eat at two tables, varying the mix of people week by week, as we catch up and/or discuss a few questions from the sermon notes. Next, we gather for about an hour as a large group to discuss our study.  Near the end, we split up men and women for a time of connection and prayer. All in all we spend somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour in two different sub-group settings.

Stage IIIThis could be considered the pre-planting phase.

You have an emerging leader who is planning to go through the GroupLaunch process. You may even have another couple who wants to join your emerging leader. Your group is well accustomed to sub-grouping, it’s part of the group DNA, and they look forward to it! The group has been actively praying, both individually and corporately, about God’s plan for the group.

In this phase, sub-grouping could easily make up more than half of your meeting time. It’s  possible that only the social time at the beginning and end of your meetings are spent together as a large group. Even in this stage, varying the makeup of the sub-group week by week is still a great idea.

Sub-grouping could be viewed as a more intimate walk on the trail. The larger group sets up camp, pitches tents, prepares and shares a meal and then sends out smaller groups to explore and discover. After a time the larger group reconvenes to break down camp and move out again as a larger expedition. A larger group accomplishing more through smaller units.

Last month we talked about group size and the importance of embracing on open group mindset. Sub-grouping is a very practical and strategic way to keep a small group small while remaining open to new group members.

Any group can benefit from sub-grouping in some form or another, so give it a try, we’re confident that you’ll be blessed in the process!


Discussion Questions

  1. If you currently sub-group, share with your fellow leaders ways you’ve done this, and the results you’ve seen.
  2. Share any concerns you have with sub-grouping. Can you think of any potential obstacles?
  3. Talk about any other sub-grouping strategies that could be used in the small group setting.
  4. In what ways do you think creative sub-grouping could be successful given the unique makeup of people in your group?
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized



Are You Open?

One of the greatest challenges small group leaders face is managing group size while at the same time embracing an open group mindset. When intimate friendships have been established within a small group, it can become difficult to know how and when to introduce change to the makeup of the group.

This is a delicate topic with many variables, so let’s jump in and clarify a few items.

What are we asking you to do?

•   We are not asking anyone to split their groups in order to “birth” a new one – most of us lead small groups, we don’t like the split and birth model, and we’re pretty sure you don’t like it either!

•   We are asking you to invest in people (i.e. make disciples) and if God calls them to the small group leadership role, wonderful! If you’ll begin by investing in people and allow God to call them, we’ll take it from there!

•   We are not asking you to train and raise up new small group leaders. As you make disciples, our prayer is that God would make clear the ministry He has prepared for them, whatever that might be.

•   We are asking you to encourage potential leaders to attend Inform to gather more information about our GroupLaunch process – the next step for emerging leaders.

•   We are not asking you to implement any particular small group life-cycle model. We are trusting you as leaders to seek God and His plan for your group.

•   We are asking you to adopt an open-group mindset.

What is an open-group mindset?

An open group mindset does not mean your group is always open. There are many good reasons to close a small group for a season; during a particular study, a group member crisis, childcare management, or simply because the group is no longer small and you’ve run out of room!

An open group mindset does mean that you, as a group, are actively addressing (through prayer and dialogue) possible plans to overcome the present obstacle keeping you from being open.

We also recognize that some types of groups, eg. Men’s & Women’s groups, may serve a slightly different purpose than a traditional Community Group, and therefore remain intentionally closed for longer periods of time.

What about numbers?

Assuming meeting space and childcare are not limiting factors, how many people should be in a small group? As a guideline, we’ve defined a small group as 6-12 people (4-8 for gender specific groups). Experience has shown us that in a group with more than twelve, intimacy and comfort levels can begin to erode.

When do you introduce sub-grouping?

Sub-grouping is a great tool to increase connectivity in a group even when the group is small, but If you’ve reached twelve or more in your small group then it is probably time to implement some level of sub-grouping. We’ll address some ideas on how to sub-group in a follow on post.

We’re full, what do we do now?

If your group is full, let the Small Group Admin or your LifeSupport Leader know you’re temporarily closed. We’ll update your status on Groupfinder to reflect your groups status.

The next step is to invite your group to begin praying about your specific situation. What will it take to open your group to new members? It’s important for the whole group to engage in the discussion and prayer – everyone in the group needs to “own it.”

Consider your options; do you keep a large and growing group open and risk losing intimacy? Do you encourage your core ally couple to attend Inform and risk them leaving your group? Do you simply close the doors, avoid planning, and embrace isolation at the risk of stagnation?

God is capable of revealing a number of creative solutions, so invite your group members to seek His wisdom along with you.

Doing nothing is also a choice, but it’s risky. Groups that remain open and grow to an unmanageable size without addressing the elephant in the room, have chosen a path that often results in declining attendance, and/or hurt feelings and broken relationships. On the other hand, groups that fill up and quietly close the doors and go “underground” can also miss God’s best.

These decisions and conversations can be difficult, hopefully they will serve as one more motivator driving us deeper into dependence on our Living God!


The following questions are for discussion in your next LifeSupport meeting.

1.    Have you seen a connection between intimacy/openness, and the size of a small group?

2.    Based on your experience at what point does intimacy begin to break down, how do you identify it, and how do can you creatively fix it?

3.    Is it reasonable to close a small group? If so for what and for how long?

4.    If your group is closed, would you consider praying about solutions along with your group for a period of time?

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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


What’s NEXT for LifePoint Church?

When God goes working in the world He looks for faithful people through whom He can pour His love and resources. I never get over that! God works through people to reach other people. When I think of it in those terms, I’m struck with the awesome privilege we have of partnering with God to see the extraordinary happen.

We stand on the threshold of expanding our reach throughout our region and beyond. I feel like God is literally inviting us to trust Him in big ways as we expand our campus and create new environments to influence people to find and follow Jesus. But that requires great faith on the part of those of us who follow Him.

We have discovered over the years that the church is people, not a building. But a building is a strategic tool for accomplishing ministry. We are now poised to expand our campus so that we can meet the urgent needs of people throughout our region and beyond.

Beginning the weekend of March 3 and 4, we’ll launch NEXT in our worship services. NEXT is a five-week sermon series designed to highlight our vision and the details of our facility expansion. This is big—really big! Toward the end of the series, I’ll invite our entire church family to participate financially in this NEXT chapter of our church’s history.

These are extraordinary times! They are times filled with challenge and uncertainty for many. But for everyone, they are times filled with the possibility that God can show up in a very real and powerful way. These are times where God can do something extraordinary.

Thank you for your faithful involvement!

Joe Duke

Beginning the weekend of March 3 and 4, we’ll launch NEXT in our worship services. As I think about the role Small Groups can play during NEXT, one opportunity in particular strikes me. We are confident that one of the greatest ways to maximize the experience and to help us unify in a strong way during this exciting time will be for all of our Small Groups to become “sermon-based” throughout those 5 weeks. We’re asking that you make the discussion questions provided on the bulletin insert your curriculum during NEXT. We think it’s worth rearranging your study plans in order to walk through these 5 weeks together as a group. Once the NEXT series is over you can jump right back into the curriculum you had planned.

I’ll be doing another post in the next several days highlighting the advantages of sermon-based small group studies.

I’m excited about what God is going to do in and through LifePoint as we follow Him into the future.

Adam Workman

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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized



New Arrivals to Our Lending Library


Just want to let you know we have recently added new materials to our lending library, a few of which you can view under the Lending Library/New Releases tabs. When you have a moment stop in the church office and take a look. They are on the shelf cataloged “New Arrivals”.

If you decide you would like to check out one of the items but will not be using it until September, please let me know and I will put you on a list to hold it until then. We just want to make the materials available on the shelves for previewing.

Thanks and have a great summer!





Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Uncategorized