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Category Archives: Book of the Month

Upcoming Resources

To Connect, Encourage & Resource Small Group Leaders at LifePoint Church – that’s our mission, that’s why we do what we do. It’s about keeping you, all of us, connected to the heart of the church and to one another. It’s that kind of connection that encourages each of us to keep going, to finish the race, to fight the good fight.

Resourceing? Our hope is that the Resources we provide throughout the year will help equip you to do the ministry God has called you to do – to run the race with solid footing, and fight the good fight with heart and passion. We all want to run together, run well and find joy in the race.

This year we are working on several Resources that focus on you, the Small Group Leader, and your personal spiritual growth. The basic premise behind this year’s plan is that we as Leaders must ‘walk the path’ that we hope to see others walk. Put simply, we need to model the path of authentic Christianity, the path of growth and change. Do you want the members of your group to cultivate a healthy prayer life? Begin to internalize and apply God’s Word? Understand what they believe and why? In practical terms, effective ministry happens when we reflect to others what God is doing in our own lives.

In October and November we will begin this year’s Resource journey with a two-part series on Prayer. (‘Part I’ can be downloaded from ‘Resources’ box in the right sidebar.)

Prayer Part I

I have a long-standing somewhat dysfunctional approach to ‘volunteering’ – I don’t like to do it, so when my hand goes up I typically look to God and ask, “why?”

I “volunteered” to write the October Resource (now a two-part series) on ‘prayer’ and I knew immediately why; it was the weakest arrow in my quiver of disciplines. My lack of understanding often led to discouragement in prayer, which led to less time and intentionality in prayer, which in turn seemed to sap my spiritual strength. I knew that my prayer life was the key to a healthy and vibrant relationship with God and mine had been faltering for too long. I had to rediscover prayer.

I’m also an obsessive ‘underliner’ that’s right, I underline, highlight, scribble in… generally ruin my best books, and even some good library books… by accident of course! There are many good, Biblically solid and informative books on the subject of prayer, but I had yet to find one that honestly addressed the most difficult questions on prayer; things like, “does prayer work, does it affect outcomes?” “What about unanswered prayer…?” I had yet to ‘ruin’ a good book on prayer!

In late September on a visit to Portland Oregon, in a small college bookstore, I found yet another book on prayer, a supposed ‘classic.’ First printed in 1931, by Ole Hallesby, Norwegian pastor and seminary professor – not only did the book capture my attention, it captured my mind and my heart. Hallesby honestly and humbly addresses the most difficult concepts related to prayer in a clear and thought-provoking manner. He answered many of my questions and gave me comfort in the ones that cannot be fully answered. My copy is officially ‘ruined’ with massive sections underlined, starred and highlighted along with multiple pages dog-eared both top and bottom!

In this two-part Resource on prayer, I’ve tried to capture some of the foundational elements of Hallesby’s book. It’s nothing earth shattering, in fact it is not ‘new’ per se; Hallesby himself has simply and profoundly highlighted the Bible’s teaching as he understands it.

Adam purchased two copies of Hallesby’s book and those are available for loan in the church library. We have several more copies on hand for purchase ($9) in the event some of you would like to ‘ruin’ your own copy. I’d also encourage you to use Hallesby’s book as a Small Group study – and ‘ruin’ the book together! There’s a study guide in the back of the book.

Paul Anglin

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Goodbye Book of the Month, hello Lending Library!

If you have missed receiving the Book of the Month post the last few months from LifeSupport Online – accept our heartfelt apologies! We are in the process of building the Lending Library tab on the blog – this is replacing the Book of the Month. We think it’s a great way of giving you quick and easy access to recommended studies for your Small Group.

The Lending Library tab categorizes studies in a couple of ways. First on the list you’ll see “New Releases”, this is the ‘hot-off-the-press’ Small Group material that we get our hands on. Next, you’ll see studies categorized by the three “D’s” (Deepening our walk with God,  Developing biblical community, Deploying our gifts), these reflect our Small Group CoreValues.  Finally, we’ve added two more categories that highlight Men’s and Women’s studies.

Building this Lending Library tab is a joint effort between the Small Group Ministry Team members and you, the Small Group Leaders.

Here’s what you can do to help.

1.  If your Small Group has done any of the listed studies, consider posting a comment to help other Leaders understand what is involved in doing the particular study, or any other ‘words of wisdom’ such as the best place to purchase, other helpful resources, things to be aware of, etc. By posting a comment, other Leaders will know who to contact if they have questions on a particular study. Maybe you even have a few extra books to pass along?

2.  If you’ve done a study that you think other Small Groups would really benefit from, let us know. Send us an email, and we’ll do the leg work of getting it posted to the Lending Library tab as soon as we can!

What’s going to replace the Book of the Month in the weekly blog posting schedule?

We often get questions from Small Group Leaders that we feel merit discussion amongst all Leaders. In other words, they’re great questions that many of us may be thinking but not asking. Sometimes these questions don’t fit in any of our other column categories, and they may not be so in-depth that they’d ever get addressed through one of our Monthly Resources. Our intent is to use this opening in the schedule to address the issues that come up… as they come up.

Here’s an issue that came up recently in a LifeSupport meeting; “How do you build intimacy in a Small Group?”   “What are some of the common roadblocks to building that relational intimacy?”  Here’s an idea I’ve found helpful in the past that might help you facilitate building relational intimacy in your Small Group… GroupServe! That’s right, serving together is a sure fire way of jump starting relationship building in your group.

There are two ways to find GroupServe Opportunities on the blog, you can either use the GroupServe pull down menu at the top of the page, or watch the right sidebar for upcoming events. We know that as Small Group Leaders, you have a lot on your plate! We encourage every Small Group to invite someone in the group to be the Group’s Serve Coordinator. Share your ministry, Serve together and build relational intimacy all at the same time!

We know Leading a Small Group can sometimes be overwhelming. We also know that many of you selflessly serve the church beyond your role as Small Group Leaders. There are many changes taking place in the Small Group Ministry, I want to assure each of you that the Small Group Ministry Team is committed to charting a course that has the potential to actually lessen some of your burdens. We are here to serve you, the “front-line” Leaders, in a way that makes your job easier, more enjoyable… and more fruitful!

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2010 in Book of the Month, Editor

 

ServePoint for Small Groups: A New Resource for a New Year

You’ve heard it announced… you’ve seen it in the bulletin – “ServePoint.” What exactly is ServePoint and how does it relate to Small Groups?

ServePoint is a class that presents a biblical view of serving and assists participants in discovering their God-given passions and gifts so that they can become active influencers at LifePoint and beyond. In the past year, I have had several Small Group Leaders ask me, “Is it possible to bring ServePoint to my Small Group?”

The benefits are obvious: you already have a set meeting time and place, you don’t have to give up your Saturday, or figure out what to do with all those kids! In addition, it can be more effective to do a self-evaluative curriculum with those who know you best.

We piloted the idea with Greg and Amy DiDio’s Community Group and presented ServePoint in a 3-week series. Everyone involved agreed it was a valuable experience so we decided to pursue the possibility of making ServePoint available to all Small Groups. We quickly realized that it could be overwhelming for our presenters to accommodate all interested groups, so our incredible video team stepped in and helped us capture most of the content on DVD!

We are excited to announce the launch of “ServePoint for Small Groups” via video curriculum available February 1st. Here is the format for the 3-week series:

Session One: Learn the Biblical perspective on serving and how your individual passions intersect with your spiritual gifts.

Session Two: Learn about the spiritual gifts presented in the Bible and explore how to discover and unwrap your personal spiritual gifts.

Session Three: Learn how to connect your passions and spiritual gifts to real ministry opportunities.

(Note: Session three is presented by a Serve Team member. This gives us an opportunity to answer any questions your group members may have, as well as giving you up-to-date information on current ministry opportunities.)

The curriculum is very user friendly and includes a kit with assessments, workbooks and clear instructions for the Small Group Leader.

We believe the ServePoint curriculum is valuable for every member of LifePoint and comes at an opportune time. Help your Small Group capture the momentum created by the current sermon series. Even those who already serve will benefit from taking a closer look at the many aspects of this curriculum, including the ever-evolving ministry opportunities offered through LifePoint Church.

Contact  Jodie Zorbaugh at: jodiezorbaugh@lifepointchurch.us to schedule your dates and receive materials. It’s that simple!

The challenge is on! Who’s going to be the first to pilot the new video series?

Jodie Z.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2010 in Book of the Month

 

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Book of the Month – The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life

Give me lists, algorithms and strategies, I’m in!  Guidelines, policies and procedures, let’s go!  I’ll take formulas, facts, scientific proof and instruction anytime…

Doing all the “right” things, hanging with the “right” people, being in the “right place at the right time”…ugh! What then was this intangible and unidentifiable donut hole in the center of my soul? Why was I still fearful of people, places, and things? What was I hiding from and what was I trying to hide? While my spiritual intellect was growing by leaps and bounds, something was missing in the renovation of my heart. Until…

The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life by Charles Stanley found me. Timing is crucial in God’s perfect order, isn’t it?   Many of you, like me, were raised in denominational churches that taught nothing beyond “Jesus died on the cross for your sins.” In addition, all this talk about the Holy Spirit seemed to be great – for a select few. Stanley’s book filled in the blanks and solved a mystery for me. I really liked that! He expounds on the person of the Holy Spirit as one whom: convicts, illuminates, teaches, guides, assures, intercedes, directs, warns, comforts, and so much more. As believers, we already have the fingerprint of the Holy Spirit on our lives, but often we are not aware of His presence and activity. We do not have to wait on the Holy Spirit. The truth is, He is waiting on us.

Stanley says in part of his testimony, “It dawned on me that I had been like a branch straining to produce fruit on its own. No wonder there was so little fruit in my life. Branches were not designed to produce fruit – they were designed to have fruit produced through them! I had been going about the whole thing backward. …My approach had been to try to do deeds of the Spirit. How foolish!”

Published in 1992, Stanley’s teachings are rich in timelessness. Each of the 18 rather short chapters finishes with a handful of questions for personal reflection or group discussion. There is no accompanying workbook, however, a community group could easily accommodate reading and discussing 2 chapters a week with minimal to no preparation for the facilitator. I found the book available on Amazon.com <http://Amazon.com> for as little as one cent.

Stanley’s writing style is straightforward and practical; an easy read. Whether done as a group, or for individual growth, I trust you will find it life-changing.

Enjoy!

Suzanne Swisher

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2009 in Book of the Month

 

Book of the Month – Cast of Characters

If you are looking for a book that will deepen relationships among your group members and provide an opportunity for them to share bits and pieces of their personal stories, Cast of Characters by Max Lucado may be just the study for you!  John and Kari Patterson’s Community Group has been working through it since this summer and they are really enjoying it.  Kari says that their members “loved this book” and would rate it a 5 out of 5! This study doesn’t take a lot of prep time for either group members or the leader during the week, in fact the chapters range anywhere from 5 to 10 pages followed by 5 questions for reflection and discussion. There are 23 chapters in all, each one covering a specific person or ‘character’ in the Bible.

While the questions are available at the end of each chapter for you to look through in preparation, it is not necessary to write down your answers.  The questions serve as springboards for lively and penetrating conversation.  The Patterson’s group found that “conversation was easy and (the questions) stimulated interaction within the group.”

This book lends itself to being used in a variety of ways.  It could be used as a stand-alone study, or you could read a few chapters (characters) as fill in between longer, more in depth studies.

You can read more about this book, view a short video by the author and download chapter one in pdf format by following this link. http://www.maxlucado.com/castofcharacters.

Currently Cast of Characters is only available in hardback and the cost is approximately $10.  The Patterson group, collectively, has about 8 copies of the book, if you or your group members wanted to borrow instead of buying; they estimate that they will finish the study in mid-December.

If you have further questions about this study, please direct them to John and Kari at pirak1@comcast.net, or call them at 410-857-9197.

Kathi Anglin

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2009 in Book of the Month

 

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Book of the Month – Bible study guides

Finding the next study for your group can be a daunting and frustrating process. The choices seem limitless. I ask friends, visit my local Christian bookstore and search online. Sometimes I find a gem, and sometimes I shrug in frustration and resort to choosing a “book by its cover.” Book of the Month on LifeSupport is a place for leaders to come alongside other leaders with recommendations and reviews of studies that have worked for their groups.

You can help, too. Grab our email address from the “ask a question” tab at the top of the home page. Send us a note and let us know which studies or books you’d recommend to other leaders. We’ll get back to you with a simple form and a few questions.

Looking for your next study? Here’s an idea: Consider alternating books by Christian authors with books of the Bible. If you’re not in the habit of doing this, you might be surprised at the results. I’ve seen people get really excited about commentaries and begin to develop the discipline of regular Bible reading.

There may be no better way to help others develop a hunger for God’s Word than opening it and tasting of it in the context of community. In our group, we’ve used two different inductive Bible study guides.

  • LifeChange from NavPress. A comprehensive study series that includes some commentary, study Bible style notes, references to other passages of scripture, and additional questions for thought and discussion. It does a great job of explaining how the book fits into the overall framework of the Bible story. However, the volume of material can be slightly overwhelming for busier members of your group. As a facilitator, you may find it challenging to get through it all in one meeting. Participants can expect to spend two or more hours of home study to complete each lesson. Click here for more information on the LifeChange series.
  • John Stott by InterVarsity Press. This series takes a simpler, straightforward approach and includes some limited commentary. I’ve found it easier to use because it primarily examines the text being studied, which minimizes the potential for taking other texts out of context. This series is great for newer Bible students (and really busy people!). Completing a lesson each week during group time is not difficult. Participants can expect to spend about an hour and a half in preparation for each lesson. Click here for more information on the John Stott series.

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Paul


 
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Posted by on September 8, 2009 in Book of the Month

 

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