I Just Took a Walk

Finally went on a prayer walk through my neighborhood. Oh, I’ve walked these blocks several times already this summer, but I drown out most everything listening to my iPod.  Today, I left the ear buds out. Instead, I tried to hear everything God had in my path. This time I really set out to pray over my neighbors.

I signed up for the Summer Initiative at Salt & Light and June’s assignment was to prayer walk your neighborhood.  More on that here. June is fading quickly. I think fear had me stalled in the idea stage. Fear that God might have a plan for me in my own neighborhood. Fear that He might ask me to do something that will make me look crazy or feel uncomfortable.  Fear that when I reach out, I might get turned down.

Turns out, the walk was pretty powerful. My heart was opened to really wanting to know who my neighbors are. What’s their story? God helped me examine myself as I walked as well, surely to humble me. Keeping in mind that I am on the same journey I hope to invite my neighbors to join. Remembering that I struggle with sin daily.

For too long I have pushed aside the command of ‘love my neighbor as myself’.

How well do you know your neighbors?


GroupLife Midwest: Ten Essential Awarenesses… with Rick Howerton

Ten Essential Awarenesses…Small Group Leadership That Transforms with Rick Howerton





  1. All of us have fallen or will fall into every one of the life situation categories at some time in our lives.
  2. Tribal group members may have a Mark 9:24 perspective of Scripture.
    1. God is a person, not a genie in a bottle.
    2. Faith is belief + doubt and acting on the belief part, and letting God be God.
  3. Tribal group members will “investigate then embrace” the truth rather than “embrace then investigate” it.
  4. Tribal group members need to discover truth in community.
  5. Tribal group members are comfortable firmly planted in a Deuteronomy 29:29mindset.
    1. It’s ok to live in a mystery, I can’t think in the same dimension as God.
  6. Tribal CMC members today are more likely to have emotional trigger points than before.
    1. When we recognize triggers, we can lead them to healing.
  7. Most welcome dialogue but will shut their minds off if the Bible study, by design or not, becomes a monologue.
    1. If group members cant speak openly/honestly about what they think, they wont hear what you are saying.
  8. Tribal group members are hearing “voices“ that are not in the room.
  9. Tribal small-group members will not always accept that the author of the study or the lecturer on the DVD is the final authority.
    1. If they have baggage with the local church, they probably wont hear the pastor as an authority.

10. Tribal small-group members need the freedom to discuss other belief systems.

Spiritual growth begins with discomfort.

Many times Jesus left people with a ? instead of an ! Allow time for people to process what they are hearing.

When God’s opinion is hard, help them accept a hard opinion.

Give your small group members time to investigate truth, they will embrace it in God’s time.

GroupLife MidWest: The Character of Leadership with Steve Gladen

The Character of Leadership: FOUR questions everyone needs to answer to last in ministry
by Steve Gladen


Picture                         MOSES

  • Moses knew and embraced who he was and who he was not. (Exodus 3)
  • Moses was honest about his heritage and who God had created him to be, and he exchanged luxury and power for a life of rejection and humiliation’ and God honored him.
  • God made you for a purpose; God has a plan for my life – unique to anyone else on earth (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • Identify the truth of who God created you to be from the lies of what Satan and the world are selling.

TRUTH: Solving the identity crisis…

Principle                        JESUS

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

  • The branch exists for the sake of the vine; it has no other purpose.
  • Branches just hang around and bear fruit. When the branch is attached to the Vine, the Vine is responsible for the branch, and the Vine will see that the branch bears fruit.
  • Your responsibility as a branch is simply to abide/remain in Christ (the Vine).
  • Every day, you will choose whether or not to live out your identity (branch) and your priority (remain) for the sake of the Vine (Christ).

In light of who you are in Christ, answer the next question…

2. THE PRIORITY QUESTION: What is really most important?

Picture                        MOSES

He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Hebrews 11:26

  • The world values power, pleasure, and possessions. Moses valued God’s purpose, people, and peace.
  • Personal disgrace for the sake of Christ was reasonable to Moses.
  • Moses lived in light of eternity; he saw the bigger picture; he was looking ahead to his reward.

Principle                        JESUS

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

  • Jesus identifies your top priority as God’s Glory! And the way you glorify God is by bearing fruit.
  • The by-product is that you will show yourself to be Christ’s disciple.
  • The key to bearing fruit (and thus giving God glory) is knowing who you are (branch) and remaining in Christ (the Vine).

Leadership Principle: Pray for a Big Picture mentality. Base your values on what you know to be true for eternity. Once you decide to follow Christ and surrender your life to Him, you’re in this for the long haul. People may disappoint you; they may misunderstand you and criticize you. But regardless of hard circumstances and hard people, submit yourself to loving Christ, loving His people, and looking ahead to your promised reward.

Questions: What do you value most? What implications do your values have to your eternal goals?

Now with your identity confirmed and your priorities set, determine your choices and responsibilities.

3. THE RESPONSIBILITY QUESTION: What will I do with my life?

Picture                        MOSES

He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” Hebrews 11:25

  • First Moses refuses the comfortable life because it was not God’s plan.
  • The choices you make will determine your character and the state of your heart….and that will determine how much God is able to use you.
  • Choose to identify more fully with Christ by accepting responsibility; every day you have the choice; your plans for you or God’s plans for you.
  • You are as close to God as you choose to be.

Principle                        JESUS

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4

  • Jesus clarifies that your first responsibility is to remain in Him.
  • What you do with your life will be determined by continually remembering who you are: a branch of the Vine.
  • Understanding who you are will shape your inner thoughts, intentions, values, desires, affections and motives (all issues typically associated with character).
  • Focus on remaining in Christ to shape your being to drive your doing, which results in producing either good or bad fruit. Galations 5:22 says that if you focus on the remaining, the Holy Spirit will take responsibility for bearing the fruit in you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Leadership Principle: Remember that this is God’s small group, not yours. He is entrusting it to you as part of His plan for your life. Continually ask Him, “God, what do You want to happen in this small group? What can I do to better serve You and the people You have entrusted to me?”

Questions:             What has been the focus of your life recently?
What has been the fruit?

Know who you are, why you are, what you’re responsible for, and finally…

THE PERSEVERANCE QUESTION: How far am I willing to go?

Picture                        MOSES

“By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27

  • Faith is the prerequisite for spiritual leadership.
  • Faith does not stop with the initial believing; you must persevere through life by faith (Colossians 2:6).
  • Perseverance as a function of perspective: you will persevere to te end o=if you keep in mind Christ for who He is (the Vine), and keep perspective of who you are (a branch).
  • Live for an audience of One: the “invisible” One.

Principle                        JESUS

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16

  • God has chosen you and appointed you to bear fruit on His behalf.
  • Remain focused daily on Christ and who you are because of Him.
  • Don’t get side-tracked from your primary responsibility to stay connected to Christ (and bear fruit through the Holy Spirit). Only then will you lead others spiritually.
  • Prioritize your life according to God’s values (like Moses) and persevere to the end by remaining (abiding) in Him.

Leadership Principle: Are the embers of your small group committed followers of Christ? Do they see themselves as branches of the Vine? Are they continuing to live by the same faith with which they came to Christ? Are you living by that faith? Keep it simple. Continue to live and lead by that same childlike faith. Take a small group meeting and teach your group the “abiding” truths in this outline.

Questions:             What are the things that are in your way of ultimate faith and perseverance?
Other than the Holy Spirit, who is going to help you to abide in Christ?

Following is the twitter stream from this session from various tweeters…

There’s no movement without the first follower.

“The enemy of the best is the good”

Every movement needs a leader, but remember, it’s about the movement not the leader.

Often in ministry we don’t want to embrace who we are.

Embrace who God has made you… God wants you to be YOU!

God wants you to be original in your ministry. Big statement for us who are early in ministry

You never know who is in your small group and the destiny that resides within.

Identify the truth of who God created you to be from lies of what Satan & the world r selling

The branch exists for the sake of the vine; it has no other purpose. Jn 15:5

What we teach about tithing & God using our 90% we miss in our teaching about sabbath.

The vine will see that the branch bears fruit

We bear fruit for a season. There is a time for pruning.

Every day u will choose whether or not to live out your identity & your priority 4 the sake of the Vine (Christ)

God wants you to be an influencer. Satan wants you to be influenced.

Personal disgrace for the sake of Christ was reasonable to Moses.

Life isn’t always gonna look pretty. But there’s joy in the imperfections. –

In the game of life it isn’t going to be pretty for the follower of Christ but we can find joy in the imperfections of this world

The key to bearing fruit is knowing who you are (branch) and remaining in Christ (Vine)

Every day you will choose whether or not to live out your identity and your priority for the sake of Christ.

You want God to use you – glorify Him in the small things.

The third- the Responsibility Question: What will I do with my life?

Choices we make determine our character and the state of our hearts–that determines how much God is able to use you.

Are you going to choose your plans for you, or God’s plan for you?

You are as close to God as you choose.

God’s economy is not equity. It’s more about eternity.

How important are people? How far are you willing to go to reach them?

Faith does not stop with the initial believing.

Perseverance is a function of perspective

GroupLife Midwest: Lectio Divina with Mindy Caliguire

Lectio Divina: “I read myself full [lectio], think myself clear [meditatio], pray myself hot [oratio], & let myself go [contemplatio]” ~Leonard Sweet on twitter






Mindy Caliguire started the Saturday morning session with a time of Lectio Divina. Some were familiar, and for others it was a lovely introduction to a method of reading scripture that takes a substantial block of time to allow the scripture to dwell within us.

Mindy read the familiar ‘Mary and Martha’ verses Luke 10:38-42. During the first reading, we were encouraged to pay attention to which phrase or verse stood out to us. Then we shared a time of reflective silence. The phrase that captured me that morning was, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

The second time she read the passage, we were to ask, “What is it in my life that needed to hear this word today? Then pause for a time of silence to dwell in that question.

The  third time Mindy read through the passage we began to share with God what we understood from the reading. Another time of silent reflection.

Silent reflection in the midst of a bustling conference is unexpected. We had time to be still and process with God among hundreds of others doing the exact same thing. Powerful!

Thanks Mindy for taking us through that exercise. I had previously heard of Lectio Divina, even read the ‘how-to’s’, but actually getting the chance to participate has inspired me to practice it more often and share it with my online group.

You can check out more on Lectio Divina in this blog post.

Next week:

The Character of Leadership with Steve Gladen

Ten Essential Awarenesses…Small Group Leadership That Transforms with Rick Howerton

Got Impact? With Eddie Mosley

GroupLife Midwest: The Courage of Leadership with Steve Gladen

The Courage of Leadership: THE question everyone needs to answer to step into ministry

Steve Gladen, Small Group Pastor at Saddleback, started us off in the best possible place for a leader in any ministry…right in the middle of God’s Word. Teaching from John 21, he relates how after a fruitless night of fishing, Jesus asks the fishermen to try their nets on the other side of the boat. The net barely holds the 153 fish. 153 fish. Such an exact number must be important. That’s a lot of fish!

Then THE question…

”Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” John 21:15

In other words, more than 153 fish? More than your livelihood? More than anything?

We know that Peter answers yes, and Jesus asks him to “Feed my lambs.” Twice more Jesus asks, and twice more Peter says yes he loves Jesus. Jesus tells him how things wont go well for Peter when he is old. Finally, Jesus says, “Follow me!”

What’s God’s love language? When we are ready to lay everything we have down and follow Jesus. That takes courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. Fear can be a strong motivator. The enemy uses fear to stop us from doing what God wants us to do.

“Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

What are your ‘these‘?

What do the 153 fish represent for you? What stops you from doing God’s love language?

Jesus didn’t pick the “who’s who” of Jerusalem, he picked the available.


Up next: Lectio Divina with Mindy Caliguire

GroupLife Midwest 2012 – Meet the Speakers

Picture Perfect or Real Leaders

Think those conference speakers have it all together? Lead perfect small groups?

We were introduced to the speakers on Friday night at GroupLife Midwest. Mark Howell led them through a 2 truths/1 lie icebreaker and we found out some major scoop on our speakers. But I’m not sharing them here. Next time, you need to come to the conference to get the good stuff.
Each leader shared a small group leadership tip and a personal leadership struggle. Their honesty will bring a sigh of relief if you’ve experienced the same issues.

Garry Poole

Tip: Let people make discoveries for themselves; foster ‘aha’ moments.

Struggle: Not rushing people, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide.

Rick Howerton

Tip: Every group member has something to share – don’t discount someone because of your judgment of them.

Struggle: Not making time to connect between meetings.

Eddie Mosley

Tip: 2 minutes a day and call on the way; pray for a group member 2 minutes a day, and call them on your way home to ask how they’re doing.

Struggle: Scheduling – frustration when people don’t show up.

Bill Donahue

Tip: Don’t try to control your small group; 1 Peter 4:10 – let everyone have input

Struggle: Praying for people when I want to just ‘fix’ them.

Mindy Caliguire

Tip: When God’s at the center of mutual caring in a small group, amazing things happen.

Struggle: Avoids confrontation by waiting for them to ‘discover’ truths.

Mark Howell

Tip: Embrace the chaos of people on the journey growing closer to God.

Struggle: I talk too much.

Can you identify with any of their struggles? Feeling a little better now? 

A big shout out to Bobbie Reutter, her hubby Rob, and the Suncrest Groups team who graciously gave me a ride to the event on Friday!! It was great to hang out and talk with you.

Up next… keynote speaker Steve Gladen:The Courage of Leadership

GroupLife Midwest 2012

Standing in the Gap

It’s been over 2 years since the last Willow Creek GroupLife conference. Quite a blow for those who regularly attended the conference to grow and learn. Where do small group directors go to learn the latest, greatest in Group Ministry now?

Enter Parkview Christian Church and a staff who have a heart for equipping ministry leaders. Mark Howell, Community Life Pastor, hosted GroupLife Midwest 2012: Staging Ground for the Leadership Expedition on February 3-4.

High-caliber speakers included Steve Gladen, Bill Donahue, Rick Howerton, Mindy Caliguire, Garry Poole, Eddie Mosley, Casey Tygrett and Jason Anhalt. This list alone would be a draw for anyone desiring to grow to a new level of group leadership and development. But they didn’t stop there. Parkview offered the GroupLife conference for FREE! And point leaders were encouraged to bring their team of small group leaders.

A welcome blessing. Thank you Mark Howell and Parkview staff!
I will be posting my notes from GroupLife Midwest 2012 here. Stay tuned.