Feb 23 Grow Together Update

Hello awesome Grow Together Leaders, I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the Grow Together Huddle this Sunday.  If you haven’t RSVP’d yet, please email me by Saturday.  In light of the Huddle, this week’s update is going to be a little shorter than normal.

MATTHEW WEEK 3

jesus-according-to-matthew-test-4Thank you again to those of you who have shared feedback on the studies so far.  I deeply appreciate it.  Please keep it coming. Having said that, below is the study for next week.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

 

HERE IS THE STUDY FOR NEXT WEEK (FEB 26 – MAR 4)

jesus-according-to-matthew-small-group-study-week-3

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

Have a great weekend, and I will see you Sunday night at 6 pm in Mosaic Cafe.

Thanks JG

Grow Together Update | Feb 16

Hello Grow Together Leaders, I wanted to remind you that a week from Sunday is our Winter Leader Huddle…

GROW TOGETHER HUDDLE – FEB 26

GT Invite.001Next weekend,  Sunday Feb. 26 at 6-7 pm is our winter Grow Together Leader Huddle. I would love to see at least one leader from each class or small group at the huddle.  We will be doing an evaluation of the ministry and talk about next steps for groups and classes.  This is also a great opportunity to connect with other leaders in our ministry and to eat some delicious desserts.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO EMAIL ME YOUR RSVP.

MATTHEW WEEK 2

jesus-according-to-matthew-test-4I heard some good and very helpful feedback from many of you on the Week 1 Matthew study, and I would encourage you to keep that coming.  It is my goal to make these studies work well for your group/class.

As a reminder, for at least the first six weeks of this study, we will be providing resources for you and your small group or class to use following the sermon.

HERE IS THE STUDY FOR NEXT WEEK (FEB 19-25)

jesus-according-to-matthew-small-group-study-week-2

IF YOUR GROUP/CLASS IS USING THIS STUDY

  • Please download this document and share it with your group (after the weekend), or stop by the Welcome Center this weekend and pick up a copy.

IF YOUR GROUP MEETS EVERY OTHER WEEK

  • While the studies will come out weekly, their formats will follow a similar style each week.  I would encourage you to take both studies from the weeks between your meetings and choose a few questions from each week.

IF YOUR GROUP/CLASS IS NOT USING THIS STUDY

  • Please encourage the people in your group to use this study on their own.  We will be texting a link to the study (the same document as above) out on Sunday afternoon. If the people in your group don’t receive those texts, they can simply text FIRSTDECATUR to 24587 or click here to sign up for emails.
  • Even if your group is doing a different study, consider taking a few minutes of your group time to ask your group members what they took away from the series each week.  That way, you can encourage them to build on what is being taught each weekend.

Thank you again, JG

FEB 9 | GROW TOGETHER UPDATE

Hello fantastic Grow Together leaders, week 1 of the Matthew series has arrived.  We are so excited to see what God is going to do in our church, each of our lives, and your groups and classes though this long slow walk through the book of Matthew.

JESUS ACCORDING TO MATTHEW – WEEK 1

jesus-matthew

As I promised the last several weeks, for at least the first six weeks of this study, we will be providing resources for you and your small group or class to use following the sermon.

HERE IS THE STUDY FOR NEXT WEEK (FEB 12-18)

jesus-according-to-matthew-small-group-study-week-1

IF YOUR GROUP/CLASS IS USING THIS STUDY

  • Please download this document and share it with your group (after the weekend), or stop by the Welcome Center this weekend and pick up a copy.
  • One of the questions included is “What questions do you hope to have answered throughout this series (about Jesus, about how his words apply to a specific topic, about a specific aspect of following him)?” Please have your group answer this question and share the answers with me.  I would love to pass those along to the preaching team as they shape the weeks to come.

IF YOUR GROUP MEETS EVERY OTHER WEEK

  • While the studies will come out weekly, their formats will follow a similar style each week.  I would encourage you to take both studies from the weeks between your meetings and choose a few questions from each week.

IF YOUR GROUP/CLASS IS NOT USING THIS STUDY

  • Please encourage the people in your group to use this study on their own.  We will be texting a link to the study (the same document as above) out on Sunday afternoon. If the people in your group don’t receive those texts, they can simply text FIRSTDECATUR to 24587 or click here to sign up for emails.
  • Even if your group is doing a different study, consider taking a few minutes of your group time to ask your group members what they took away from the series each week.  That way, you can encourage them to build on what is being taught each weekend.

PRAYER

16425857_10154092222221541_4186501823278482763_nThank you to those of you who were able to join us this week for our “Week of Prayer”.  As a reminder there are still opportunities tomorrow (Friday February 10) at 7 am, Noon, and 6 pm. 

While our “Week of Prayer” is wrapping up, our ministry of prayer together remains.  One of the ways you can continue to be involved in praying together is by joining our Weekend Prayer team. Each weekend we have a team of people praying for our services, our volunteers and staff, and events and initiatives taking place in the life of the church. If you would like to be involved in this team please email me at jgrunden@firstdecatur.org.

YOUR GROUP PRAYING FOR THE CHURCH

Not only would this be a great way for individuals in your group/class to serve, but it could be a great way for your group to serve together.  I would like to ask you to talk to your group or class about choosing a weekend to come and pray for our church.  If you let me know what weekend and time work of your group, I will let you know where to meet and make sure you have everything you need.

Thank you again,

JG

 

 

FEB 2 GROW TOGETHER UPDATE

Hello awesome Grow Together Leaders, it truly is a blessing to serve with each of you.  Thank you for the way you lead and shepherd the people in your groups and classes, so that together we can become more like Jesus.

MATTHEW SMALL GROUP STUDIES

jesus-according-to-matthew-test-4Next weekend (Feb 11/12) we begin our 30-week “Jesus According to Matthew” series.  As I’ve mentioned previously for the first 6 weeks of this series we will be creating small group material designed to follow each weekend’s sermon. Starting next week we will have Week 1’s study available on this page, and I will leave copies at the welcome center as well.  We would love it if your group or class would join us for these 6 weeks. 

RIGHT NOW MEDIA

rightnowmediaI wanted to take a minute to remind you that one of the tools you have available to you as a small group leader or teacher is our church subscription to Rightnow Media.  Not only can you find studies for your group, there are a lot of great studies and training sessions you can use for your personal study and development. If you don’t currently have an account, you can get a free one by using this link: https://www.rightnow.org/Account/Invite/firstdecatur.  Please also share that link with anyone in your group or class who would like an account.

THIS WEEKEND

devoted-together-memeThis weekend is the first opportunity for our congregation to commit or re-commit to the Devoted Together Covenant.  We will also be encouraging everyone, including those who are not ready to make that commitment, to use that form to update their contact information.  One of the questions we are asking is for people to let us know if they are in a “Grow Together Ministry”.  To help us have the most accurate records, would you please encourage the people in your group or class to check that box “yes”, and write your name when it asks for their leader’s name.

PRAYER WEEK NEXT WEEK

PrayI also wanted to remind you that next week (Feb 6-10) is our prayer week.  Each day will be different, but each day will have 3 identical opportunities to pray (7 am, Noon, and 6 pm).  Please encourage your small group or class to join us each day as we pray for God’s direction for our church and his provision for what he has called us to. 

THANK YOU – JG

Grow Together Update | January 19

Hello awesome Grow Together Leaders, I hope your week has been well.

IS YOUR GROUP OPEN?

open-groupAs a part of the Matthew series, we will be inviting people in the congregation to get involved in small groups.  Our hope is to form some new groups, but also to place people in existing groups.  I realize that not every group is ready for new members, but if your group would be interested in welcoming new members, please click here to email me and let me know.

 

RECALIBRATE 

francis-recalibrateIf you heard Pastor Wayne’s State of the Church message two weeks ago, you know that as a church we are in a season of prayer and evaluation.  If you happened to miss that message you can watch it online here.   Over the last few weeks we have been praying as a staff for God’s direction and we spent time this week prayerfully doing some strategic planning.  We are also inviting the congregation to join us in a week of prayer Feb. 6-10. More details to come on that.

However as I was chatting with a friend today, I was reminded that this is something we can each do within the context of our small groups and classes.  I would ask you to consider taking time in the next couple weeks to pray with your small group or class for our church, our leaders, and God’s direction in the coming year.  

As the church is in a season of recalibration, it may also be a good time to recalibrate your group or class.  Community has a funny way of veering of course slowly over time.  If your group has been meeting for a while, or you just sense that it might be time to recommit yourself to specific goals or practices, I would encourage you to take some time to discuss with your group what might need to change or be modified so that you can reach the ultimate goal of being more like Jesus because of the time you spend together.

DEVOTED TOGETHER PART 2

devoted-together-memeThis weekend Pastor Brian will be preaching part 2 of the Devoted Together series.  We will be talking about what it means to be Devoted to Jesus as we worship together. Being in a small group or class is a huge part of being in a community who is Devoted Together.  I wanted to share with you the insert that will be in the program this weekend.  See below.  We will be specifically talking about the bottom section called “Worship”.  As you think about your class or group time this coming week, I would encourage you to spend a few minutes talking about what this means for each individual as well as your group/class.

devoted-together-covenant-only-insert

Thank you again for faithfully leading and shepherding the people God has entrusted to you.  Please let me know if you need anything.

God Bless, JG

Grow Together Update | Jan 12

Hello awesome Grow Together Leaders,

MATTHEW SERIES

hqdefaultI have had a lot of questions about the upcoming Matthew series, so I wanted to take a minute to bring some clarity.  Here is what I know:

 

 

  • The Matthew series will begin the weekend of Feb 11/12 and run through Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 2/3).   In total that is 30 weeks.
  • For the most part we will be taking a straight walk through Matthew, except around Easter.  We will take a break from the flow of Matthew to line up the events of Holy Week (Matthew 21:1-28:15) with Holy Week (April 9-16).  We have some cool things planned that week.  More to come on that.
  • Once Holy week is over we will jump back into Matthew 9, where we leave off on April 2.
  • For the first 6 weeks of the Matthew series (at a minimum) I will be creating a group study guide that will follow each weekend’s sermon.  I would love for as many groups and classes as possible to utilize the study guides for those 6 weeks (Feb 12 – March 25).
  • One of the reasons I am doing that is because I think it is very healthy for our people to use group and class time to build on what they are learning about each weekend.  I also am planning to use these studies to help new small groups get started.  If you know someone who is not in a group, but should be, please encourage them to sign up starting the weekend of Jan 28.
  • A few of you have expressed that you already had plans for that period of time, and that is 100% OK.  Please go ahead and use those plans.  For people in your group or class who would still like to utilize these studies, they will be available to use for individual study.
  • Studies will be available to leaders late in the week before they are taught that weekend. That way, you will have a couple of days to think through them even if your group meets on Sunday afternoon or evening.
  • If these 6 weeks of studies go well and people seem interested I will continue to make these available throughout the 30 weeks.

Hopefully this helps bring clarity.  If you have any questions, please click here to email me.

GROW TOGETHER HUDDLE

GT Invite.001Also, please mark your calendar for Sunday Feb. 26 at 6 pm. That will be our next Grow Together Huddle, and I would love to see as many of you as possible so we can do an evaluation of the ministry and talk about next steps for groups and classes.

 

 

Well, I hope you have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to seeing you this weekend sometime. Thank you for your leadership of your group, and please don’t ever hesitate to contact me with any concerns or questions.

I APPRECIATE YOU!
– JG

GROW TOGETHER UPDATE | JAN 5

WELCOME BACK

happy-new-year-images-1Happy New Year! I hope you were able to enjoy the last few weeks and create lasting memories with your family and friends.  As we look forward to what this year holds and as your small groups and classes kick off again, I wanted share part of an article I wrote for our newsletter.  Please check this out and think about how this might fit in your group/class setting.

The New Year provides an opportunity to reset practices and habits in our lives that aren’t the way we want them to be, or know they should be.  It’s an opportunity to re-take control of our calendar, our diet, our spending, our relationships, and the list goes on.  So, what’s on your list?  What would you like to be different in 2017?
As we recommit to eating better, exercising more, and spending less, this time of year is also a great time to reconsider the time we spend reading the Bible.  Reading the Bible is not only something we should do in order to grow, it is a way we can intimately connect with God and understand his desires for our lives.  Personally, my favorite Bible reading resource is YouVersion, which can be found on the web at www.bible.com. Creating an account is simple, and once you’ve created an account, you have access to dozens of versions of the Bible as well as personalized reading plans, all for free. 
As you think about your goals for 2017, I would encourage you to begin a YouVersion reading plan today. If you’re interested in reading the whole Bible, there are a number of plans that will help you read straight through the Bible or read it in the order it was written.  Or, if you’d like to start smaller, there are reading plans accompanied by devotionals on a variety of topics including: marriage, prayer, doubt, anxiety, men’s topics, women’s topics, etc.  There are also apps available so you can read on your phone, tablet, or computer.
As you think about your group or class, how could you engage in a reading plan together over the next couple weeks, month, or year?  If you decide to go this route, I would love to hear how it works for your group.

WHAT’S NEXT

whats-next2As you know, a couple times a year we like to sync up what is happening on the weekends with our small groups and classes.  We believe this is a great way to help build on and apply what is being discussed each weekend.  Last fall we worked through the Finding Your Way Back to God curriculum.  This Winter and Spring we will be spending 25 weeks or more studying the book of Matthew.  This will begin the weekend of Feb 11/12 and carry us through the school year into the summer.
It is my hope to add people to groups, and launch new small groups for the beginning of this study.  If you are looking to add a few people to your group, please let me know. 
As a result, I will also be creating study guides for groups and classes that go along with these weeks of the series.  I would love it if your group would spend a few weeks in the beginning of this series journeying with us.  More to come on that.

WHY SHOULD YOU BE IN A GROUP?

question-mark15As a part of the Devoted Together series, Pastor Wayne has asked me to preach the last weekend of January with a focus on Grow Together and Serve Together groups.   I am both excited and terrified about this experience and would appreciate your prayers.  As I prepare for this sermon, I would love to hear from you about why being in a group/class has mattered to your life and spiritual journey.  If you would be willing to share with me, please click here and email me your answer.

WATCH YOUR MOUTH?

If your group is looking for a new study to get you going until the Matthew study begins in February, I would like to suggest the “Watch Your Mouth” series.  You can check it out here.
If you are interested in this study, you can find it on Rightnow Media here: https://www.rightnow.org/Content/Series/196794 

GROW TOGETHER UPDATE | DEC 15

Well first of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS!  I am looking forward to seeing all of you in the coming weeks at church and Christmas Eve and Christmas day services.   It is my prayer that this is a season of joy and hope for you and your family.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MY FAMILY

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-3-56-46-pm

I also wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas from my family.  We are all very grateful to be a part of FCC and to serve with each of you.

SMALL GROUP CHRISTMAS ARTICLE

I have mentioned in pervious posts some ideas about celebrating Christmas as a small group or class.  However, I came across this article that I though might be helpful as you think through this.  If your group is already on break for the season, maybe consider some of these ideas when you get back together in January.  Here is the article:

http://churchleaders.com/smallgroups/small-group-articles/292300-christmas-ideas-for-your-small-group-2.html

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE STUDY?

As we look forward to a new year, I would love to know what your favorite small group study is.  Please leave a comment in the comment section to let me know.  I would love to compile a list of this as a reference guide for groups in the spring.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Thank you again for a wonderful 2016.  I feel so very blessed to be a part of FCC and to serve with each of you.  Enjoy these next few weeks!  MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!  I am looking forward to some exciting things in 2017.

God Bless, JG

GROW TOGETHER UPDATE | December 1

a55f883400d63036bca8bcb0fe0bfa0dHAPPY DECEMBER 1st!  I absolutely love this season, and one of my favorite things about the Christmas season is Christmas music.  In the Grunden household Christmas music season begins November 1st.  (judge not lest ye be judged).  I’m curious how many fellow Christmas music fans I have out there.  If you like Christmas music too, leave a comment below with your favorite album or song.   I’d like to check it out.

NO HUDDLE IN DECEMBER

GT Invite.001Several months ago I sent out a huddle schedule, and originally we were supposed to meet this coming weekend.  However, in light of the chaos of the season and some scheduling changes, I would like to reschedule for January.  More info to come about that.

 

 

CHRISTMAS STUDIES

book_christmastree1-216x300I realize that many groups and classes will be taking a break for the weeks around Christmas and the New Year.  Honestly I think that is really healthy as long as your group has an expectation for when you will begin meeting again.

If your group is at a point where you are looking for a new study or could use a break from the study you are in, I would encourage you to take the next couple weeks to reflect on Christmas.  As I mentioned last time, one way you could do this is to use the FCC advent resources together as a group.  You can find the week 1 study here: ADVENT WEEK 1

There are also some great studies on Rightnow Media you could explore. Here are a couple I would recommend

WINTER SCHEDULE

winter-solstice-facts-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smartAs you prepare your group or class calendar for Winter, I wanted to let you know that the weekend of February 11/12, we will begin as a church a series on the book of Matthew that will take us all the way to Easter.  For the beginning weeks of this series, we will be creating a small group resource that we would love for you to use with your group or class to stay in sync with those weekends.   Please keep that in mind as you plan your next study, and let me know if you have any questions.

The Greatest Thing You Could Do Today

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine shared an article that really caused me to pause and think about church and our spiritual communities, and how all of that can be dangerous if we aren’t spending time alone with our Creator.  I wanted to share this article with you as well: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-greatest-thing-you-could-do-today.  Please take a read through and let me know what you think

Thanks again for leading the people in your groups and classes so well.  Please let me know if there is any way I can serve you or your group.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Grow Together Update | Nov 17

Happy Thursday!  I hope your week has been well.  I’m sure many of you have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this post since I missed writing last week.  OK, probably not.  Moving on. 🙂

THANKSGIVING

happy-thanksgiving-background-1024x716As hard as it is to believe, next Thursday is Thanksgiving.  In the spirit of thankfulness, I want you to know that I am deeply thankful for each of you.  I know how powerful relational-discipleship has been in my life, both as a member of groups and a leader.  I also know how much time and energy it takes to lead, care for and shepherd the people in your groups and classes.  Thank you stepping into the mess of people’s lives and helping them grow to be more like Jesus.

FREE COFFEE

A_small_cup_of_coffeeThank you to those of you who have taken me up on the offer to connect over coffee.  I absolutely love hearing how your groups are going and what God is doing.  If you haven’t replied yet, I would still love to connect some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Please click here to email me to set up a time.

 

NEXT STUDY

Over the last several weeks, many of you have asked me for ideas about what your group could study next.  I am always happy to help you find the right study for your group, but one I would recommend to any group is the Guardrails study by Andy Stanley.  Here is a short trailer about the study

If you would be interested in doing this study with your group or class, please check it out on Rightnow Media here: https://www.rightnow.org/Content/Series/218

ADVENT

advent-series-invite-card-frontStarting next weekend, we will be focusing on Advent for the four weekends leading up to Christmas.  As a part of this series, each person in our congregation will receive a candle and a once-a-week Advent reflection they can use on their own, with family or friends.  However, as I was writing these reflections I thought they might also work well for our small groups and classes.  I would encourage you to talk to your small group about possibly including these reflections as a part of your group time throughout December.

Thank you again for taking the time to read this!  Have a wonderful weekend!

God Bless, JG