Grow Together Update | May 18

THE BLOCK

Yesterday I had the privilege of walking through the Block with Pastor BJ and planting some fruit trees in his neighbors’ yards.   I’m a bit ashamed to admit that it was really my first time doing any sort of work in the Block neighborhood.  There have been many times my family and I have wanted to serve, but each time inevitably our calendar is full of various other activities and responsibilities.  I’m sure some of you know how that goes.

As we walked around I was overwhelmed by the sense of community in the Block.  BJ couldn’t take more than a few steps without a neighbor calling out to say hello.  Honestly, it was refreshing, and yet so very different than my neighborhood where people do their very best to keep to themselves.  As I arrived at home, I was reminded that I can’t allow myself to be content living such an isolated and busy life that I miss opportunities to connect with and bless others.

All that to say that I am so grateful to be a part of a church that cares for the people in our community.  I am so grateful that Pastor BJ and his family and so many others are ministering to and with the people living in the Block neighborhood.  But, I don’t want to sit back and watch it happen.  I want to be a part of it, even in small ways.  I would also love to encourage you to do the same.  

SERVING LUNCH

Pastor BJ and Amanda are still looking for small groups to provide lunch on July 1, August 5, September 2, October 7, and November 4 and they are also having a block party on Friday, July 14 from 5:30-7.  If your group would be willing to take one of these dates, please email me and let me know soon.  

I know I mentioned this opportunity before and a few groups jumped on it, but I wanted to throw it out again because I think it is a great way for our groups to be outwardly focused and yet partner with the work of our church.  It is also an opportunity to stay connected with your group this summer.

I would love to see our groups cover all 6 of these dates.  If you have questions, please let me know.  Thanks, JG

 

 

Grow Together Update | May 11

Hello Grow Together Leaders, it was great to see many of you at the Serve Together Celebration on Monday evening.  Whether you were able to make it or not, I just want to take a minute to say thank you for the time and energy you have invested over the last year in leading your groups and classes.  I know that leading and teaching are often thankless jobs and I want you to know that I appreciate everything you do.

 

SUMMER IDEAS

I realize that some groups will continue to meet throughout the summer while others will take a break.

For those taking a break, please be intentional about putting a date on the calendar now to “re-start” your group in fall.  That way everyone will have the same expectation.  Also, I would highly encourage you to try and gather with your group at least 3 times between now and Labor Day for the purpose of having fun together.  It is important to the health of your group for you to stay connected.   Also, please remember that people’s lives don’t stop.  Especially because you aren’t meeting regularly, please be intentional about staying in touch with each other’s lives and praying for one another.

For those continuing to meet, please find some time to take a brief break with your group.  Even a couple weeks off or a change up of rhythm can be important to keeping the group fresh and the experience meaningful.   Too much routine can be a bad thing.  If nothing else, take a break from leading/teaching for a couple weeks and have someone else do it.  Not only will it be good for your group, but they might appreciate you more. 🙂

FALL SERIES

As with the last 2 years, we will be doing a series right after Labor day along with other churches in the Decatur Area.  We are very excited about this again.  This series will include small group/class curriculum that we would love for your group to join us in.  In the coming weeks, I will be in contact about a summer huddle where we will talk about what all of this will look like.  Please let me know if you have questions or suggestions for this series.

 

Thanks again, JG

Grow Together Update | April 27

Hello Grow Together Leaders, first of all, if you have not registered for the Serve Together Celebration, please do so by this Monday.  You can register online here: http://www.firstdecatur.org/celebrate/  It’s going to be an awesome evening.

 

 

URAIMOV VISIT

Ravshan and Lisa Uraimov will be back in Decatur June 4-22 and August 5-16.  If you are not familiar with Ravshan and Lisa, they are currently serving in Kazakhstan and would love to come share with your small group or class while they are here.  If you are interested in having them visit, please email me and let me know.

 

 

1 WEEK STUDY

If your group or class is looking for a powerful one week study, I would highly recommend “In Light of Eternity.  This film offers a powerful glimpse into the light God is shining in the dark places of Africa by telling the tales of transformed lives as well as those who devoted their resources toward the service of others.

There is a video and study guide available on Rightnow Media here: https://www.rightnow.org/Content/Series/229920 Caution: This film was shot on location in East Africa and contains mature themes and brief images of extreme suffering and naked children. 

Thank you again! – JG

GROW TOGETHER UPDATE | APR 20

Hello amazing Grow Together Leaders, I hope your week is going well!

SERVE TOGETHER CELEBRATION

We are so excited for the Serve Together Celebration on Monday May 8.  It is going to be an amazing evening and I hope to see all of you there as we celebrate what God is doing through each of you.  You can RSVP by calling the church office, or online here: firstdecatur.org/celebrate Please RSVP by May 1

 

SUMMER GROUP PLAN

Believe it or not, Summer is right around the corner, and Summer can be a tricky season for groups.  In summer we each take on a different rhythm of life that makes it more challenging to maintain group life.  With that in mind, I would encourage you to begin talking with your group now about your summer rhythm.  

If you are able to keep your group going in your normal rhythm, that is great.  It can also be valuable to shift your meeting rhythm and purpose.  Most importantly, I would recommend that you continue to meet in some capacity and make a plan for when you will re-start your normal rhythm in the fall.  One suggestion for summer, is to meet once a month for a social gathering or service opportunity.  While study is obviously an important part of group life, sometimes a break from study will make re-engaging study in the fall even more exciting.

As always, if you have questions, please contact me anytime. I would love to help.

Thank you for leading faithfully and well.

  • JG

 

 

 

 

 

GROW TOGETHER UPDATE | APRIL 6

Hello awesome Grow Together Leaders and Teachers.

SERVE THE BLOCK

I know I mentioned this idea last week, but I wanted to give it another go because I think it’s a great way for our groups and classes to be others focused while partnering with a great ministry in our church.  I’ve also had several questions, so I wanted to bring clarity.

 

 

HERES WHAT IS NEEDED: 

  • Choose a Saturday.  We have a group taking May 6, but we are still looking to confirm groups for June 3, July 1, and Aug 5.  If none of these weekends work for your group, please choose a Saturday that does and let us know.
  • Let me know. Email me to let me know which date you picked. 
  • Make a meal. 
    • You will need enough food for 50 people (including yourselves).
    • Most of the people that come will be children.
    • Food will need to be prepared at your homes in advance.
    • You will need to provide, food, drinks, and anything that goes with it.
      • Pastor BJ does have a 5 gallon jug if you want to bring a powdered drink and use that.
    • Pastor BJ will provide plates, cups, and utensils.
    • Meals should be simple.  Here is an example:
      • Burgers and dogs – including buns, cheese, and condiments, or even ham and cheese sandwiches
      • Chips
      • Some sort of salad or fruit
      • Some sort of dessert
      • something to drink.
  • Show up, serve, and eat. Coordinate a time with Pastor BJ or Amanda Elven, show up, serve the meal, and hang out and eat with the neighbors.

INTENTIONAL CHURCH CONFERENCE

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 3.38.41 PMThe Intentional Church conference is taking place at FCC on Saturday April 22 from 8:30-3:30.  This one-day conference equips ministry leaders and volunteers to help them reach their communities for Jesus Christ.  Here is a link with more information about the conference: Intentional Church Conference

As a Small Group Leader or Teacher this would be a great opportunity for encouragement and training.  The KEYNOTE SPEAKERS are excellent and there are some great breakouts too.

If you are interested please register online here.

Thank you again for everything you do!

  • JG

Grow Together Update | March 30

Hello awesome Grow Together Leaders, I hope you are well!  There is a lot to cover this week, so please read through and let me know if you have any questions.

SERVE THE BLOCK

As small groups and classes we have an incredible opportunity to serve in the Block this summer.  Pastor BJ and Amanda Elven are looking for several groups who will serve a lunch meal in the Block one Saturday this summer.  At a minimum they are looking for 4 groups, but could take up to 16.  Please talk with your group/class and choose a weekend to serve our friends and neighbors in the Block.

 

HERES WHAT IS NEEDED: 

  • Choose a Saturday.  We are starting with May 6, June 3, July 1, and Aug 5, but can extend beyond that.
  • Let me know. Email me to let me know which date you picked. 
  • Make a meal. Coordinate with your group or class to make a meal for 50 people.  Please prepare the meal in your homes.   If you would like financial assistance to help with the meal, please let me know.
  • Show up, serve, and eat. Coordinate a time with Pastor BJ or Amanda Elven, show up, serve the meal, and hang out and eat with the neighbors. 

I would love to see our Grow Together groups fill the entire summer.

MATTHEW SERIES ONGOING

Below is the final study for the Matthew series.  However, the series will continue through Labor Day.  If your group would like to continue studying Matthew, here are some ideas to help you.

  • At the bottom of this post is an outline for the remaining weeks of the series so you can plan ahead for what we will be talking about each weekend.
  • There is a lot of great information online including reputable commentaries.  One I wanted to share with you is the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.  If you have questions please feel free to ask me or google.  If you are unsure if something is reputable, please don’t hesitate to ask.
  • Probably the most important thing is to take great notes each weekend and write down thoughts that are intriguing to you.  Those thoughts often generate great discussion.
  • To involve your group members more, consider asking group members to rotate leading the discussion.  Not only will this help them pay better attention on the weekend, it will allow them to step into a greater leadership role in the group.
  • Lastly, I’ve mentioned this a few times, but please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions as you prepare.  I’m happy to help.

MATTHEW WEEK 8

jesus-according-to-matthew-test-4HERE IS THE STUDY FOR NEXT WEEK (APRIL 1-8)

Jesus According to Matthew – Small Group Study – Week 8

Please feel free to share this link with your group. Copies will also be available at the Welcome Center.

 

MATTHEW SCHEDULE

Here are the remaining weeks of the Matthew Series

April 8 & 9 Matthew 21:1-17: Jesus’ triumphal entry and time at the temple.
April 15 & 16 (Easter) Matthew 28:1-15 Easter morning
April 22 & 23 Matthew 9:9-17. Calling of Matthew.  Jesus eats with sinners.  Came for sick not healthy. Pharisees ask about fasting.
April 29 & 30 Matthew 9:18-34 Healings: imperfect faith and God’s perfect power.
May 6 & 7 Matthew 9:35-38. The Workers are Few.
May 13 & 14 (Mother’s Day) Matthew 10: Jesus charges the disciples.
May 20 & 21 Matthew 11:20-30 (skipping 11:1-19 from Advent series): The authority of Jesus. Rest for the Weary.
May 27 & 28 (Memorial Day) Matthew 12:1-14 Lord of Sabbath
June 3 & 4 Matthew 12: 22-45: Tested by Pharisees: Satan divided against satan and asking Jesus for a sign.
June 10 & 11 Matthew 12:46-13:58: Kingdom Stories. Parables of sower, weeds, mustard seed, hidden treasure, net
June 17 & 18 (Father’s Day) Matthew 14:13-21: Jesus feeds 5000. Possibly follow up with Matthew 15:29-39
June 24 & 25 Matthew 14:22-36: Jesus walks on water. 
July 1 & 2 Matthew 15:1-28: Pharisees question about washing hands./Canaanite woman
July 8 & 9 Matthew 16:1-12: The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
July 15 & 16 Matthew 16:13-28: Jesus declared as Messiah and begins to talk about his death.
July 22 & 23 Matthew 17: The Transfiguration
July 29 & 30 Matthew 18:1-14: Causing a brother to stumble
August 5 & 6 Matthew 18:15-35: If someone offends you/forgiveness
August 12 & 13 Matthew 19:1-12: Marriage and Divorce
August 19 & 20 Matthew 19:13-20:16: Money and the Kingdom
August 26 & 27 Matthew 20:17-28: Status in the Kingdom
Sept 2 & 3 (Labor Day) Matthew 28: 16-20: Great commission (minoring on resurrection since we preached on it on on Easter)

Thank you, JG

Grow Together Update | Mar 23

Hello fantastic leaders, I hope you are all doing well.  Thank you to those of you who responded to my email earlier in the week about how your group is doing.  If you haven’t had the chance to respond yet, I would still love to hear from you.

MATTHEW SERIES – REMINDER

As a reminder, there will be two more weeks of Group Studies to go along with the Matthew series, including the one below.  If your small group would like to continue studying Matthew beyond week 8, I will be sharing some resources next week to help you do that.  Please check back next week for those ideas.

MATTHEW WEEK 7

jesus-according-to-matthew-test-4HERE IS THE STUDY FOR NEXT WEEK (MARCH 26-31)

Jesus According to Matthew – Small Group Study – Week 7

Please feel free to share this link with your group. Copies will also be available at the Welcome Center.

 

As a reminder, if your group is looking for a study for the next couple months, please check out last week’s post , rightnow media or give me a call for ideas.  I would love to help.

Thanks again!

  • JG

Grow Together Update | Mar 16

Hello awesome leaders, below is some important information about our Matthew Study and SOME AMAZING SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES (read all the way to the bottom)

MATTHEW SERIES 

When we began the Matthew series we said we would write small group studies for at least the first six weeks.  We have decided to extend that to eight weeks, which will lead right up to Palm Sunday.  For Palm Sunday we will be jumping to Matthew 21, so that felt like a natural break for these studies.  If your small group would like to continue studying Matthew beyond week 8, I will be sharing some resources next week to help you do that.

MATTHEW WEEK 6

jesus-according-to-matthew-test-4HERE IS THE STUDY FOR NEXT WEEK (MARCH 19-25)

Jesus According to Matthew – Small Group Study – Week 6

Please feel free to share this link with your group. Copies will also be available at the Welcome Center.

NEXT STUDIES

If your group or class is looking for a powerful one week study, I would highly recommend “In Light of Eternity.  This film offers a powerful glimpse into the light God is shining in the dark places of Africa by telling the tales of transformed lives as well as those who devoted their resources toward the service of others.

There is a video and study guide available on Rightnow Media here: https://www.rightnow.org/Content/Series/229920 Caution: This film was shot on location in East Africa and contains mature themes and brief images of extreme suffering and naked children. 

There is also a great new study on the book of Jonah.  Please check that out here: https://www.rightnow.org/Content/Series/225914

There is also a 4 week series on generosity that looks really good.  You can find that here: https://www.rightnow.org/Content/Series/198062

SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES

As we talked about at the last huddle, one of the things we all want to be about is helping our groups serve together.  In light of that, I got an email from the Block ministry this week inviting our groups and classes to serve.  Here is what Amanda shared with me:

“We are getting ready for a new season of ministry in the Block, and we wanted to let you know about some opportunities for small groups to serve in the neighborhood. 
First, we are planning to provide a meal at each of our first Saturday events.  Many of the families in the Block receive backpacks with food at the end of the school day on Friday to help families get through the weekend.  When school is out of session they stop receiving those bags.  The park district has a program that provides lunch on weekdays, but many families are hungry over the weekend.  We would love to invite small groups to prepare and serve lunch to our neighbors.  The dates of our events are May 6, June 3, July 1, August 5, September 2, and October 7.”
I think this would be an awesome way for groups and classes to join our existing ministry in the Block.  If you would be interested in serving, please email me at jgrunden@firstdecatur.org, and I would love to help you get connected.
Thanks again, JG

Grow Together Update | March 9

Hello Grow Together Leaders and happy Thursday.

PRAYER

It is my regular habit to pray for each of you and your groups, so I would love to know if there are specific situations in your life or your group that I could lift up with you.  If there is something in your life, or the life of your group that you would like prayer for, please click here to share your request with me.

 

MATTHEW WEEK 5

jesus-according-to-matthew-test-4HERE IS THE STUDY FOR NEXT WEEK (MARCH 12-18)

Jesus According to Matthew – Small Group Study – Week 5

Please feel free to share this link with your group. Copies will also be available at the Welcome Center.

 

MEN’S RETREAT

I am extremely excited about our upcoming Men’s Retreat.  I think it is going to be a great opportunity for the men of our church to connect with one another and grow while having a lot of fun.  I would encourage the men in your small group or class to come together. REGISTRATION END MARCH 20

YOU CAN REGISTER FOR MEN’S RETREAT BY CLICKING THIS LINK

If you missed the video in church last week or would just like to watch it again, here you go:

If you can’t see the video follow this link: Men’s Retreat 2017 from First Christian Church on Vimeo.

EMPOWERING YOUR SMALL GROUP

In light of the conversation at our huddle about involving others in the leadership of your group, I wanted to pass along the article below.  However, before you read it I want to give you one caution, and here it is: Please don’t read this article and beat yourself up.  None of us can read this article and say that we’ve got this all figured out.  I am only sharing this with you to help generate ideas as you figure out how to empower others in your group. Here is the article:

http://churchleaders.com/smallgroups/small-group-articles/300143-single-important-thing-leading-small-group-jim-egli.html

Thank you for taking a few minutes to read through.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

-JG

Grow Together Update | March 3

Hello awesome leaders, I hope your week is going well.  This week’s post comes to you from Michigan where Winter is still alive and well.

MATTHEW WEEK 4

jesus-according-to-matthew-test-4HERE IS THE STUDY FOR NEXT WEEK (MAR 5 – 11)

MATTHEW WEEK 4 STUDY

Please feel free to share this link with your group. Copies will also be available at the Welcome Center.

 

SHARE YOUR STORY

share-your-story02I was reminded again this week of the power of our personal stories.  Each one of us has unique life experiences, and as we come together in our groups, it is important that we share those stories with one another.  If your group hasn’t done that before or maybe not in a while, I would encourage you to set aside some time, each time you meet, for one or two people in your group to share their story.

As I was thinking about this idea I came across this resource, called a “Life Map”, that you can give the people in your group to help them think through their story before they share it.  Here is a link to the resource: http://groupleaders.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Commuity_LifeMaps.pdf

Thank you for leading so well.

-JG