Tag Archives: Small Groups

Joe McFadden: Your Source for Missional Homework

Joe McFadden and I worked together in leading small group ministries at Brooklife Church, Mukwonago.  As I’m in a transition toward church planting with Lakepoint, Joe has continued on with Brooklife Groups.

What impresses me most about Joe is his tenacity to do his homework on the the missional shifts of the church landscape. There’s plenty of innovative ways in which churches are exploring how to spread the kingdom of God.  If you want to keep up on the latest of such creativity, keep up with Joe.

He’s got a blog where he posts his latest research.  Visit it, subscribe to it, add your comments to it.

Thanks for doing the homework for all of us Joe!

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Why Triad’s for Discipleship?

Greg Ogden’s book, Transforming Discipleship, is an outstanding look at Biblical models of discipleship, followed by a contemporary “triad” model that condenses the Biblical approach.  His “triad” proscription is the perfect complement to the discipleship taking place in small group setting.  My only critique is that his specific systems and curriculum suggestions take away much of the organic nature these relationships could have.

Ogden encourages same-sex triads.  He emphasizes triads because pairs foster hierarchy/dependency, and limit interaction/varying perspectives.  He encourages these relationships to be same-sex, due to the intimate nature that is fostered.

Ogden boasts a 75% multiplication rate for triads, while pairs rarely multiply.  Page 137 is a nice diagram showing how one disciple who disciples another to disciple another every year will bypass and blow away an evangelist’s reach in 12 years even if they reach a new soul daily.

Three ingredients that need to take place in the triads to make them transforming environments include: 1) Transparent Trust (Safety and Affirmation fosters Confession and therefore Repentance), 2) God’s Truth (Corrects, Directs, Trains), and 3) Mutual Accountability (Support and Challenge).

Group Planting?

Is there such a thing as Small Group Planting?

Typically, small groups are multiplied by 1) an apprentice leader being sent out from an existing group, 2) an apprentice leader staying with the existing group while the original leader gets sent out, 3) sub-grouping (hosting smaller groups within a growing mid-sized group), or 4) an apprentice group (often called “turbo groups”) spending a short season together for the purpose of disbanding with each member founding a new group.

I am an advocate for all four, but have been brainstorming with a peer (Joe McFadden) for other possible outlets.  I have found myself Pastoring at a Church (Brooklife) that is experiencing a rapid season of growth.  I and other group leaders at my church have invested nine months of hard work toward apprenticeship and multiplication, but appear to have come up a bit short.  If of our Fall registration is as I anticipate, in a matter of weeks, our handful of new groups will be quickly overwhelmed; and most of our existing groups will be filled to the brim.

What about group planting?  The Apostle Paul parachuted into some regions with the gospel, and left as early as three weeks later with a church in place.  Theses churches needed ongoing coaching, but they were functional churches.  If you can plant a working church in three weeks, I’m pretty sure we could do the same with groups.

In my final month at a prior church, we planted a group.  There was a clear pocket of people where community and formation could occur (aka, small group).  However, no one was ready to take the lead.  After some dialog with each potential group member, I volunteered to the lead the group for three weeks, on faith that God would raise up a leadership solution by the end of that time.  God did, and now over a year later, I’ve received word several states away that this group has been thriving well and are praising God for what they share together.

I am still trusting God for new leaders and new groups to emerge this month.  If they don’t come in from other sources, I think Joe and I may be called to roll up our sleeves and plant a few groups.

Xenos Conference Video Debrief #3 – Joe and Phil on New People in Groups

Xenos Summer Institute 2011

I’m attending the Xenos Summer Institute 2011 with a team of group leaders from Brooklife.  Xenos is a church in Columbus Ohio known for pumping their house groups with steroids; setting the bar for small groups higher than most churches will be able to jump.

I’m looking forward to the fresh vision and challenge.  You should be looking forward to a number of blog posts over the next two days!

Female Discipleship

I’m trying to figure out what makes female discipleship work.

I’m pretty sure I get the male side of discipleship.  I’ve come to rely on same-sex triads (groups of three) for spiritual formation in my own life, and in the lives of those I lead in the church.  For me, it’s been a natural outflow of relationships in my small groups – there’s always two or three guys I can especially count on to grow me (and I them), so we end up hanging out regularly outside the group setting.  

As counterintuitive as it may sound, guys readily jump into triads.  For many it’s their first opportunity to share true feelings and true weakness without being frowned upon or belittled.  They like the challenge and problem solving nature of putting your junk on the table and figuring out what to do about it.

For women, I’m finding that the means and the ends are much harder to follow.  Women have been forming triads for centuries without anyone’s advice or proscription.  Trust seems to be distributed in sparing amounts, and with many qualifications.  As a result, it appears that many women keep their close inner-circle to one or two others, and that only after great time and effort has been spent.   I get that women get triads in ways that surpasses the male audience, but I don’t get what they get out of it and how they got there. 

If a few of you women (and any brave man willing to venture an observation) wouldn’t mind responding to a few of my lingering questions on female discipleship, I would appreciate the enlightening…

  • What does it take to build trust between one woman and another?
  • What aspects of spiritual formation take place between women only after trust is truly present?
  • Is it possible to expand or multiply your trusting & formative relationships to include more women?  If so, clue me in on the process and the limits.
  • What does a male pastor need to know most about female discipleship?

Committed Community

“Unless your are committed, you always have the chance to walk away.  That’s exactly why most people never choose to commit.” 

Rodney Cox & Eric Tooker in Leading from Your Strengths: Building Intimacy in Your Small Group

Just think of what closed-exit commitment would look like in marriages, churches, small groups, volunteer organizations, employment, etc…  Maybe it’s too risky for most of us, but I think it would be neat if people went for it.