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Winter Study: 5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith

As we head south for the winter, our small group is getting ready for Andy Stanley’s 5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith.  We’ll be doing Ninety each week live with Andy Stanley and Clay Scroggins.  We hope the new series is a good one for the two of us and our southern friends…

It’s the start of a new year. But believe it or not, we’ll be celebrating Easter in just 90 days. Between now and then, join us on a journey through the life of Jesus.
In the meantime, we are so happy that the couples in our group stepped up to host in their homes, facilitate discussions and rotate bringing dessert.  We will miss seeing everyone, but are hoping to stay in touch via Facebook.  I’ve personally already watched the  5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith series several times so I know it will be a good one for all of the participants.  Here is what they can expect:

Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith by Andy Stanley is an exciting small group bible study that establishes the biblical case for five things God uses to grow an unshakable faith in you.

Imagine how different your outlook on life would be if you had absolute confidence that God was with you. Imagine how differently you would respond to difficulties, temptations, and even good things if you knew with certainty that God was in all of it and was planning to leverage it for good.

In other words, imagine what it would be like to have PERFECT faith. In this new small group bible study, Andy Stanley builds a biblical case for five things God uses to grow BIG faith.

Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith Participant’s Guide with DVD

What would it be like to have perfect faith? Find out in Andy Stanley's dynamic group study! The six sessions will spark discussion about approaching each day with unshakable confidence; belief in God's control; and trust in his purposes. Discover how God uses practical teaching, providential relationships, private disciplines, personal ministry, and pivotal circumstances to grow your faith.

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Christmas Serving Project

I am so bummed that we were out of town this past weekend, but four of the couples in our small group worked at the Big Lake Food Shelf on Saturday morning.  They checked in clients, packed groceries, and helped any way they could.  Hope we can do more of this in the future!

Afterward, they had a Christmas luncheon which I hear was delicious.  Looking forward to next year!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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Fall Study: The Book of James with Francis Chan

Well we recently wrapped up our Christian study with Andy Stanley and are moving on to the Book of James.  But I wanted to take a moment to tell you all how much our group loved Christian!  It is hands-down THE best study that we’ve done in our couple’s small group.  Even the men were fully-engaged in the discussions and many of the lessons were shared by us on social media platforms like Facebook.  The information was just too good not to share with family and friends.  If you are looking for a study for your small group, I highly recommend Christian…it would work for new thru spiritually mature believers.

And now we kick-off our Book of James study with Francis Chan.  We haven’t really done a specific book of the Bible study in our group up to this point so we are looking forward to digging in.  The Book of James is literally my favorite book of the bible so I’m super excited to get started.  Francis Chan is usually pretty good and he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to teaching what God expects of us.  Here’s a preview of what we are expecting to see and hear….

Francis Chan unpacks the dense truth contained in the book of James in front of the iconic backdrop of San Francisco, the city where he lives and ministers. Through 12 sessions, Francis works through James verse-by-verse, challenging followers of Christ to move beyond a private, intellectual knowledge of God and His Word, to a vibrant faith that impacts every square inch of life.

Please note that this study is only available through Right Now Media so if your church or group leader doesn’t have a login to this site, you won’t be able to do this study.

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Summer Study: Christian with Andy Stanley

Tomorrow we will be meeting for week 4 of our summer small group study.  So far, we’ve all been loving this one.  Andy Stanley is funny and relatable and best of all, the material being covered in Christian: It’s Not What You Think has been thought-provoking.

Christian Participant’s Guide with DVD: It’s Not What You Think

What does it mean to be a Christian? Ask 100 people that question and you are likely to get 100 different answers. In Christian, an eight-session DVD Bible study, pastor and bestselling author Andy Stanley explores the one word that Jesus gave his followers that should define them. Includes one Christian DVD and Participant's Guide.

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What I personally like about this study is that it is a good choice for people that are at any point on their faith journey from newbies to mature Christians (I mean disciples….watch this series and you’ll know what I’m referring too).   I’m really looking forward to the next 5 weeks as we finish up this interesting series.  The group discussions have been wonderful and I feel like we are getting to know each other so much better since doing this series.  Did I mention how much we’ve enjoyed it ?!?!

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New Studies for 2017!

As you can imagine, whittling down all the great studies out there just to our Top 100 favorites was difficult.  Initially, we had a hard time finding good studies to cover various books of the bible so this Spring I focused on finding some good ones to replace a few that we weren’t thrilled about.  If your group is looking for a great small group study that focuses on a Book of the Bible take a look at these:

Book of James: Developing a Faith That Works DVD Study

It should come as no surprise that Rick Warren is a favorite teacher of mine and although this two volume series dates from about 10 years ago.  It is an oldie, but goodie.  You’ll find practical advice for walking in faith and applying lessons to your everyday life.

Each volume is 6 sessions with a video that is 25 to 30 minutes long.  Be sure to get the study guide as well which will have memory verses, teachings and discussion questions.

 

The Girl’s Still Got It: Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World Small Group DVD Study

Liz Curtis Higgs is a well-known women’s bible study teacher that hits it out of the park with this series where she walks through the Book of Ruth which has 12 chapters verse by verse.  You can choose to do one chapter per session or do several so that you could meet for 3, 6, or 12 weeks.  The flexibility is nice.

The book is full of provoking study questions that will have your small group attendees talking and that’s the point right?!?

 

The Gospel According to Jonah: A New Kind of Obedience DVD Study

Join J.D. Greear for a walk through the Book of Jonah in a world that is fraught with missteps, disobedience, idolatry, and mistaken “identity.”

Group members will recognize some of this issues and themes in their own lives.  Be sure to get the participant’s guide as well!

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Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe that 2017 is already upon us, but we are excited to start our next small group study called Life on Mission by Dr. Tim Harlow.   The six week study won narrowly by popular vote (over Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey which we’ll likely do in the future) so we are super excited to see how God works in our lives as we move forward.

Here is a summary of what we are supposed to be learning….

Life on Mission offers clear Bible teaching and provocative discussion questions designed to empower small groups to share their faith with people right in their own neighborhood. This six-week study looks at topics like how to connect with unbelievers, how serving others can open their hearts to the gospel, and how paying attention to our own spiritual growth can strengthen our witness.

People who really matter to God are right around you, and God has given you the incredible assignment of inviting them to come home. Life on Mission will inspire and equip you to do that.

Life on Mission Small Group DVD

The LIFE ON MISSION small group study offers clear biblical teaching and provocative discussion questions designed to empower small groups to share their faith with people in their own backyards. This six-week study looks at topics like how to connect with unbelievers, how serving others can open their hearts to the Gospel, and how paying attention to our own spiritual growth can strengthen our witness.

People who really matter to God are all around us, and God has given us the incredible assignment of inviting them to come home. LIFE ON MISSION will inspire us to do just that.

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I’ll let you know how it goes, but I’m optimistic that this is going to be a good one!

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‘Tis The Season for Serving

Usually when we finish up one course, we like to do a service project and since it was the holiday season, we thought a visit to our local Senior Center was in order.  The weekend before Christmas, we went to Guardian Angels by the Lake where many in our group spent the afternoon sharing Christmas goodies and visiting with the residents.  It is always such a pleasure hearing the stories from people who have gathered so much wisdom and experienced so many things in their lives.  My husband met an interesting guy named Marvin who shared his stories about WWII including how he was shot in the head and obtained a purple heart.  He even went back to his room to get the proof.  And Beverly proudly gave my husband a tour of her room at the facility.  Love it!

 

Afterwards our group enjoyed a potluck Christmas dinner which was equally fabulous!  Unfortunately, I had a horrible cold and had to miss all the fun, but I am thrilled that everyone had such a good time!

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Sacred Marriage – Just Wrapped Up

We just finished up our Sacred Marriage study and I would say that it was a mixed bag on whether or not members of the group liked the study.  I personally did not love it because I simply was not buying all the stuff that Gary Thomas was selling every week.  I think part of that may because my view of marriage is a bit skewed from my childhood.  Several of the other couples really related to what Gary was saying and tended to agree much more with the premise that God created marriage not to make us happy, but to make us holy.  That said, doing the Sacred Marriage workbook exercises did lead to some great discussions with my husband that we probably would not have had otherwise.

If you are a group of couples, I think doing a marriage study is a great idea, I’m just not sure I would choose to do this one.  Take a look at the other options as well under the Marriage section here on Small Group Advisor.  Some of the studies will offer more practical advice on how to strengthen your marriages than others.  No matter what study you choose, I think all marriages will benefit from the discussions that will inevitably arise during the course.

Sacred Marriage Participant’s Guide with DVD Small Group Study

In this six-session small group Bible study, Sacred Marriage, writer and speaker Gary Thomas invites you to see how God can use marriage as a discipline and a motivation to reflect more of the character of Jesus. The DVD features six 10-15 minute live teaching vignettes from Gary Thomas.

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Transformed: All Wrapped Up

Sacred-Marriage-What-If-God-Designed-Marriage-to-Make-Us-Holy-More-Than-to-Make-Us-Happy-0On Sunday night our Couple’s group finished the Transformed study by Rick Warren and decided that we will do the Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas study next.  All in all, I would say that the Transformed study went pretty well for our group.  We had some great discussions (especially about mental and financial health).  As our group has grown closer over the past 3 months, the sharing has really opened up and I look forward to our fall marriage study.  The group has been such a blessing in my life and it is my hope that all the members at my church are led to join a small group as well.  It can truly be life-altering.

Of course, like most things in life, you get out what you put in so it likely led to much more growth for some than others.  Because of the extra weekly sermons by Rick as well as daily devotionals, it was certainly much more intensive than some of the other studies that I’ve done in the past.  That said, I think I grew more out of this study than most others as well.  I’ve picked up some habits that I hope will be life-long changes.  For example, I’d like to continue committing to taking at least 10 minutes outside everyday to de-stress and take in the beauty of the world (mental health).   I’d like to continue trying to have an attitude of gratitude for my emotional health.  I really should start a gratitude journal, but so far I just take my thanks for various things to God in prayer every morning.  Finally, I sort of let the weekly verse memorizing fall by the wayside the last few months.  But just this weekend, I found a great app called Remember Me that has verse flashcards and various memorization techniques.  I put in 28 verses that I need to memorize so we’ll see how that goes.

We had one couple drop out of our group and another that is unavailable this Fall so we are moving forward with 5 couples to start Sacred Marriage in a few weeks.  It should be interesting 🙂

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Transformed: So Far So Good

Couples Small Group

We kicked off our Couple’s Small Group by doing the Transformed study from Rick Warren. Our group is made up of 7 couples and it has been fun getting to know each other. This weekend we will be doing the 4th session which is about Emotional Transformation. So far I think the study has been going pretty well and generating a fair amount of discussion during our time together. One issue is that our group meets twice a month and this study is set up as 50 days of transformation with devotionals and readings for every day. Because we don’t meet weekly, the timing is a bit off which isn’t the end of the world, but it is something to consider when choosing future studies for our group.

What I personally love about this study is that Rick encourages participants to set 90 day goals in each of the 7 key areas in their lives. It has been the kick in the butt that I’ve needed to make sure that I work on those goals and am held accountable by other group members. I don’t mind sharing my personal 90 day goals so here is what I’m doing:

Session 1 – Spiritual Health: My 90 day goal is to memorize a new bible verse every week. I actually found a pretty good app called Scripture Typer that I’m using for this goal. I will admit that I’ve put all the verses in the app, but I am slightly behind on the actual memorization part.

Session 2 – Physical Health: I already eat pretty healthy and exercise, but I get stressed and often forget to relax and enjoy the world around me so I set a goal of going outside to get fresh air and drink in the world’s beauty for 10 minutes every day. I’ve done pretty well with this one except on days when it is gloomy and rainy. When it is sunny, 10 minutes isn’t enough 🙂

Session 3 – Mental Health: In an effort to cut back on the mental garbage in my life, I set a goal of reading one non-fiction book or watching one documentary a week about the social issues facing our world. I love learning so this one has been fun for me. I’ve watched Poverty Inc on Netflix about global poverty assistance programs that might be doing more harm than good. Now I’m reading A Billion Bootstraps about Microfinance and Business Solutions for ending poverty. I’m almost finished and I have to say that I have LOVED this book!

It is my hope that these 90 day goals will become lifetime habits!