I want to say a big thank you to those of you who have taken the time to tell me more about your experience with TELL ME MORE.  If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to share your thoughts so we can continue to improve studies like this in the future.

Share your feedback here:


2 weeks ago I shared several study ideas with you. However I came across a study today that I thought would be an excellent study as well.  If you haven’t already picked a next study for your class or group, please check out: The books of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John by Tony Evans. Here’s the trailer:

The 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Books of John – Trailer from RightNow Media on Vimeo.
If you are unable to see the video, please click here.


I once heard someone say “Assume that everyone you see today needs encouragement.”  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we spent more time encouraging one another in what is right and good?  So, I want to leave you with that assignment today.  Assume that your co-worker, spouse, child, parent, grandparent, boss, teacher, student, small group member, neighbor, cashier, coach, client, or random stranger needs encouragement today.  Let me know how it goes.

By the way, you are all amazing, and God is using you.  Keep up the good work.

Thanks, JG

Grow Together Update Sept 28

Hey all, this week’s post is quite long, so I thought we’d kick it off with a brief video.  Please take a minute to check this out.

Untitled from Jonathan Grunden on Vimeo.

If you are unable to see the video, please click here


The WSOY Community Food Drive is taking place next Friday, Oct. 6.  The next morning (Oct. 7) we will be sorting food donations at Catholic Charities from 9-11 am.  This is a great opportunity for your group/class to serve together.  If you would like to sort food with us, please email me and let me know by next Thursday.


In the next few weeks, I want to  meet up with each of you for coffee or pop (soda) to talk about what’s going on in the life of your group.  The purpose of these gathering is simply to check in, hear how things are going and answer any question you might have about your group or class.  Click here to email me and let me know some times that might work for you to connect.


We are in the final week of the Tell Me MORE series.  This weekend Pastor Brian is concluding the Tell Me MORE series, by answering the question “How Do I Respond to a Broken Relationship?”  Here is the video for week 4.

If you are unable to see the video, please click here:


Now that we are wrapping up the Tell Me MORE series, it’s time to figure out what your group will study next.  As a quick note, several groups, including mine, take a week off after finishing a study and use that week to gather socially and build relationship.   Please don’t feel like you have to do that, but occasionally it is valuable to take a break from study and to use a group time to get to know one another better.

As you think about what to study next…

I want to remind you that you have Rightnow Media at your disposal.  There are literally hundreds of great studies on Rightnow Media.  If you don’t already have a free account you can create one by clicking here.  Also, if you need a leader guide for any study, please let me know.  We have an account to purchase those so they can be shared with other groups down the road.



As I mentioned in our August Leader Huddle, I wanted to send along some “Study Pathways” this year.  In other words, instead of randomly choosing one study after another, I thought these collections of studies might help you focus your growth for the year.  Below are 4 pathways and links to each of the studies in those pathways. 

Pathway 1: Tried and True These are some of the most popular studies with groups in our church.

Pathway 2: Marriage and Family

Pathway 3: Books of the Bible Studies

Pathway 4: Long Intentional Study

Please let me know what your group is interested in and I will help you get the resources.


I know this post is much longer than normal, but I also wanted to leave you today with some encouragement about leading great small group discussions.  This is a quick post called “Ask Great Questions” from a book called “The Essential Guide for Small Group Leaders

Ask Great Questions

There’s nothing worse than a dud of a discussion.  How do you prevent awkward silence?   It’s all about the preparation and attitude.  Here are some tips for asking great discussion questions:

  1. Get Familiar with the Study or Discussion Guide: Read the questions out loud before the group meets.  As you read them, consider how you would answer them.  If they don’t make sense to you or seem too simple, fix the questions so they will work in your group.  Adapting and rewording questions is a discussion-saver!
  2. Ask Open-Ended Questions: If any question can be answered with “yes,” or “no” or a single word, don’t ask it.  If it can’t be avoided, add, “Why did you answer that way?”
  3. It’s all about the “What,” “So What, and “Now What.”:  What is the study all about? So what- why is this important?  Now what do we do with it?  A good discussion works through all three of those questions. 
  4. Avoid Questions that fish for “Just the Right Answer.”  Yes, there are right and wrong answers, but if the group members sense there is just one answer very few people will speak up out of fear of being wrong.
  5. Don’t celebrate the “right answer”: This is the same as number 4 except you throw a party when you hear the answer you want.  Celebrate the right answer and you will shut down future discussion.
  6. Don’t Answer Your Own Questions: If no one responds to a question, then ask a follow-up, “Did that question make sense?” Silence might be an indicator that group members are thinking, or it might be an indicator that the question needs to be reworded. Asking this follow-up question will help you know which is true.
  7. Don’t Judge Someone’s Answer: You might hear some doozies, but resist the urge to correct others.  Instead ask follow-up questions to seek more replies, like “Where do you see that in Scripture?” or “What do the rest of you think about that?”

I hope this stirs up some ideas on how we can each ask better questions in our groups.
Thanks again JG

Grow Together Update | Sept 21

Hello Grow Together Leaders, I wanted to say thank you for all the feedback about your small groups and classes over the last couple weeks.  It’s been great to hear about the discussions you’ve had.  Please keep them coming.


I sent an email out earlier today, but the leader huddle we were supposed to have this coming Sunday has been postponed.  Unfortunately not very many people were able to make it.

Please mark your calendar now for our next huddle on Sunday Nov. 19 at 6 PM



In light of our leader huddle being cancelled, I wanted to extend an opportunity to meet up with each of you for coffee or pop (soda) to talk about what’s going on in the life of your group.  The purpose of these gathering is simply to check in, hear how things are going and answer any question you might have about your group or class.  Please email me and let me know some times that might work for you to connect.


This weekend Pastor Wayne is continuing the Tell Me MORE series, by answering the question “Why Are Christians Hypocrites?”  As a reminder each week’s study is intended to be used following the sermon.  In other words, please plan to do week three of the study between Sept. 24-30.



There is a brief video to go along with each week’s study.  Week Three’s video features our very own Brian Talty.  You can find all four videos online at

As a preview, here is the week three video:

If you are unable to see the video, please click here.

Thank you again for faithfully leading your group or class.  Please let me know if you have any questions.
God Bless, JG


Grow Together Update | Sept 14

Hello Grow Together Leaders, I hope your first week of the Tell Me MORE series went well.  I have heard great things from a number of leaders and received some very thought-provoking questions.   Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


This weekend Pastor Brian is continuing the Tell Me MORE series, by answering the question “Why Do People Do Bad Things?”  As a reminder each week’s study is intended to be used following the sermon.  In other words, please plan to do week two of the study between Sept. 17-23.



There is a brief video to go along with each week’s study.  Week Two’s video features Greg Taylor, the Senior Pastor at First Christian Church in Clinton.  You can find all four videos online at

As a preview, here is the week two video:

If you are unable to see the video, please click here.


Our next Leader Huddle is next Sunday (Sept. 24) at 6 PM in Mosaic Cafe.  Please plan to be at this huddle.  I would love to hear your feedback on the Tell Me MORE study.  Plus we will be doing some training and discussing next steps for your group.




I think small groups and classes are awesome, and I’m assuming you do too since you are in one. So, I thought it would be cool to use this coming week to get the word out about Small Groups at First Christian.  One of the best ways to do that is social media.  During your group or class this week I would encourage you to take a picture of your group and post it online with a comment about how much you love your group.  In fact, let’s make it interesting.  When you post your picture,  tag me and I will put your name in a hat and do a drawing for a fun prize.

Thanks again, JG



Hello Grow Together Leaders, yes the weekly Leader Blog is back (let the celebration begin).  If you are a new leader this year, we want to welcome you.  Thanks for stepping in and helping the people in your groups become more like Jesus.

Each week I will write a post with news, encouragement, important updates, etc.  So, let’s get right to it for this week.


This weekend Pastor Wayne is kicking of the Tell Me MORE series, by answering the question “What Happens After I Die?”  As a reminder each week’s study is intended to be used following the sermon.  In other words, please plan to do week one of the study between Sept. 10-16. Hopefully you’ve already picked up study guides for your group.  If not, there will be some available at the Welcome Center this weekend.  Please stop by and grab enough for your group.


There is a brief video to go along with each week’s study.  Week One’s video features our very own Wayne Kent.  You can find all four videos online at As you read through the study guide, you will see where those fit.  Please think through how you will show those to your group (laptop, iPad, etc.)

As a preview, here is the week one video:

If you are unable to see the video, please click here.


I am here to serve and help any way I can.  I know there are often questions or concerns in the beginning of the year, and I would love to help you navigate those.  Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions.  I promise to get back to you quickly.

Thanks again for leading.  I am really looking forward to this year!


Grow Together Update | May 18


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.  


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.



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. 🙂


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:  It’s going to be an awesome evening.




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.




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: 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


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


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: Please RSVP by May 1



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







Hello awesome Grow Together Leaders and Teachers.


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.




  • 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.


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