Friday’s Hot Links – Sept. 22, 2017

Welcome aboard to 93 new subscribers, including a group of pastors who attended this week’s Pastor’s Essentials Conference inSherwood, Arkansas! Glad you are all on board now.

 

Fridays are all about giving you links to some trusted content around the web. The content comes from friends and colleagues whom I trust to give you good advice to help you lead your group or your church’s overall groups ministry.

Enjoy!

Ken Braddy

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Time-shift your training to grow leaders and expand Sunday School

This post isn’t about something from the world of sci-fi, although it sounds like it! Almost every science fiction franchise has experimented with time-traveling and time-altering storylines. And while those are fun and entertaining, they just aren’t reality. But here’s an idea for you to consider that does involve some time-shifting, and that might be a real possibility in your world. If you struggle to find time to regularly train group leaders (I’m talking to pastors, education pastors, Sunday School directors!), perhaps a simple shift in time would do the trick.

Time-Shift to Sunday Morning Leader Training

Wait a minute! Sunday mornings? Are you crazy? I can hear the objections now: “We have Sunday School and worship on Sunday morning – there’s no time for any leader training.”

Actually, there is. And for many of you, this will make sense on your church calendar.

How this works: 2 options

Option 1:  Schedule training at the same time your Sunday School meets. Just choose an unoccupied classroom and schedule the training with your group leaders.

Option 2:  Schedule training earlier than your Sunday School hour or whatever comes first on your Sunday AM schedule.

Why this works

  1. Your group leaders are already committed to be on campus Sunday morning. Some churches struggle to find a time when it’s convenient for group leaders to receive training – so this is a good answer to that age-old problem.
  2. You have things for the group leader’s kids to do, like Sunday School, at no additional cost.
  3. Group leaders must find a substitute teacher or allow an apprentice teacher to lead their group once a month, which grooms the next generation of leaders for your Sunday School.
  4. Group leaders are not asked to come back to the church on Sunday night, Wednesday night, or any other night of the week.
  5. It provides regular, monthly training for group leaders, which will help the quality of your Sunday School. It will also help your Sunday School’s attendance to climb (Georgia state Sunday School leaders discovered that if a church had monthly training for its group leaders, churches grew an average of over 13% during a four-year survey period – and that’s significant!).

I actually time-shifted my adult group leader’s training at the last church I served. We found that Sunday morning worked very well for our group for all of the above reasons.

Give it a try! You’ve got nothing to lose – except a better-prepared and informed teaching faculty!

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7 Fall Fellowship Ideas for Groups

Fall officially begins on later this month. The Autumnal Equinox signals the beginning of Fall_leaves-4cooler weather and incredible explosions of color as leaves begin to turn bright orange, red, and yellow. For many people, fall is their favorite time of year.  I teach a Bible study group weekly, and I want to take full advantage of this time of the year. Fall is a great time to kickstart fellowships that may have been infrequent during the summer months.

If you begin planning events now, you can make the most of this time of the year and create some memorable fellowships for your group members, guests, prospects, and associate members to enjoy.

  1. Have a bonfire. Chances are good that someone in your group owns a piece of land large enough to accommodate a bonfire. Cook hotdogs, S’mores, marshmallows, and you’ve got a recipe for outdoor fun. If you have a musically inclined person in your group who plays guitar, add some sing-a-longs, too.
  2. Go to a state or county fair,  Admission prices are low for these events, so it’s an county fairaffordable outing for your group members. It’s hard to beat the smells of popcorn, cotton candy, roasted corn, and of course, turkey legs. Fairs have free exhibits and attractions, and they are designed for every member of the family.
  3. Attend a local festival. I took my group to the Banana Pudding Festival a few years ago (no kidding – there really is a Banana Pudding Festival), and we had a great time. Look around your area. Many smaller towns host obscure festivals that are fun to attend. A quick internet search has turned up the Moon Pie Festival and an RC Cola Festival within an hour’s drive of my church. Oh, and did I mention the Donkey Festival that’s pretty close, too?
  4. Go to a football game. Fall is for football, so grab a stadium seat and go to your local high school’s homecoming game. Or if you live close to the home stadium of an NFL team, that’s a great option. But if NFL prices are too high, there’s always the college team from your area. Just pick a venue, get outdoors, and enjoy some football. Want to really add to the fellowship experience? Host a tailgate party a couple of hours prior to the game and increase the linger factor.
  5. Go  hiking. Cooler weather and crisp Autumn mornings just call out to the outdoorsman in us. Many lakes and state parks have hiking trails of varying difficulty. And the price is right…usually free.
  6. Camp out. Really want to enjoy the outdoors this fall? Go camping with your group. I guarantee that someone in your group is an experienced camper and knows all the best spots.
  7. Go on a retreat. Rent a cabin (or two) and head to the mountains or other location where cabinyou and your group members can relax, play games, have Bible study, and enjoy unplugging close to the great outdoors. A group of us are heading to the Gatlinburg, TN., area in October for a weekend retreat. Let’s hope the leaves are still changing colors!

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Tuesday Teaching Tip: Use a Pre-test

Have you ever created a pre-test and given it to your group members? You can do this activity with kids, students, and adults. It’s just like it sounds – a test given before a Bible study is experienced by the learners. The pre-test serves two main functions:

  1. It is a learning readiness activity. It helps focus the attention of group members who often come to our Bible studies with lots of cares. It focuses their minds on some of the topics you’ll cover in the Bible study.
  2. It tests group members’ knowledge of a particular topic. It helps you, the group leader, know how to make micro-changes to your lesson depending upon the aptitude of the group members.

Multiple-choice, true-false, fill-in-the-blank, and matching exercises can be used in the pre-test. A few weeks ago I taught a Bible study from LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life series. The topic? Satan and demons. Here’s how a few pre-test questions might have looked:

  1. True or False? Satan is omni-present (meaning he is everywhere at the same time).  True____ False____
  2. Jesus said that demons, Satan’s helpers, can be cast out of people only by ______________.
  3. Check all that are correct:  Demons are (1) unlimited in number (2) more powerful than angels (3) relatively harmless (4) harmful to man

It doesn’t take a long time to create a pre-test, and it helps set the table for a learning experience. If I’d give this pre-test to my group members, I could have adjusted my Bible study based on their understanding of demons.

A final thought: A reporter from the NY Times wrote a piece about the value of pretesting and how it improves performance throughout a course of study. Here is what his research demonstrated:

This is the idea behind pretesting, one of the most exciting developments in learning-­science. Across a variety of experiments, psychologists have found that, in some circumstances, wrong answers on a pretest aren’t merely useless guesses. Rather, the attempts themselves change how we think about and store the information contained in the questions. On some kinds of tests, particularly multiple-choice, we benefit from answering incorrectly by, in effect, priming our brain for what’s coming later. That is: The (bombed) pretest drives home the information in a way that studying as usual does not. We fail, but we fail forward.

Here’s the link to his article if you’re interested.

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A relationship with God is unnecessary when…

If you’re having a feeling of deja vu, you’re right. I accidentally released this post yesterday morning (nobody’s perfect, right?). If you read it, you’re getting a double-dip! For those of you who are used to reading this kind of post in which I take an excerpt from a favorite book on Christian education, leadership, or some other topic relevant to your ministry, simply know that today’s post is from the book Spiritual Leadership, by Richard and Henry Blackaby.

The authors ask us to consider whether or not a relationship with God really unnecessary. Their answer may surprise you:

God’s assignment for a church may not include meeting every need expressed in its neighborhood…the congregation must discover its vision not by asking people’s opinions but by seeking God’s direction…Often need-based church visions cause Christians to neglect their relationship with the Head of the church as they focus their energies on tabulating surveys and responding to expressed needs…A relationship with Jesus is always a higher priority than meeting temporal needs. Jesus didn’t base his ministry on what people wanted but where he saw his Father at work…If the Father was working with the multitude, that is where the Son invested himself. If the Father was bringing conviction to a lone sinner, that is where Jesus directed his efforts. If setting vision occurs by merely tabulating a door-to-door survey, then a relationship with the Heavenly Father is unnecessary (Spiritual Leadership, 94-95).

It’s a convicting thought from the father-son team of Richard and Henry Blackaby. We must be careful the vision we have for our Bible study group is not determined apart from spending much time with our Heavenly Father. The vision we have for our groups should align with the vision the leaders of our churches have as well.

The Blackaby’s point? If you spend time with the Father, you’ll begin to see where He’s working in the world; wherever you see Him working, that’s your invitation to join Him. And that’s where your vision for ministry comes from – time with the Father, not surveys.

The question now becomes, “How will I motivate my group members to be involved in the accomplishing of God’s vision for our group and our church?” Perhaps an even bigger question is “How will I be involved in accomplishing God’s vision?” Maybe the biggest question is really, “Am I spending enough time daily with God that I would notice His work in the world so that I could join in?”

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A relationship with God is unnecessary when…

Today’s blog post is an excerpt from a favorite book of mine, Spiritual Leadership, by Richard and Henry Blackaby. Is a relationship with God really unnecessary? The answer may surprise you:

God’s assignment for a church may not include meeting every need expressed in its neighborhood…the congregation must discover its vision not by asking people’s opinions but by seeking God’s direction…Often need-based church visions cause Christians to neglect their relationship with the Head of the church as they focus their energies on tabulating surveys and responding to expressed needs…A relationship with Jesus is always a higher priority than meeting temporal needs. Jesus didn’t base his ministry on what people wanted but where he saw his Father at work…If the Father was working with the multitude, that is where the Son invested himself. If the Father was bringing conviction to a lone sinner, that is where Jesus directed his efforts. If setting vision occurs by merely tabulating a door-to-door survey, then a relationship with the Heavenly Father is unnecessary (Spiritual Leadership, 94-95).

And there you have it. A convicting thought from the father-son team of Richard and Henry Blackaby. We must be careful that our vision for our Bible study group is not determined apart from spending much time with our Heavenly Father. The vision we have for our groups should align with the vision our church has for our community and world.

The question now becomes, “How will I motivate my group members to be involved in the accomplishing of God’s vision for our group and our church?” Perhaps an even bigger question is “How will I be involved in accomplishing God’s vision?”

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Friday’s Hot Links – September 15, 2017

I hope you’ve had a good week in the Lord. It’s that time again when I send you links to some trusted content from friends and colleagues around the web. I know you’ll enjoy reading these blog posts that will encourage and challenge you as you lead and serve your church as a Bible study leader.

Shoulder to shoulder,

Ken Braddy

Blog Posts You Might Like

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