I was blessed to be a part of the preaching retreat to plan the sermon series for this year. To see 7 pastors (plus whatever I am!), come together with prayer, Scripture, lament, and dreams for each of their congregations was humbling. Whatever I thought I had become in terms of leading others, I was reminded that I’ve still a lot to learn to reach their level. I’m so excited for what’s coming down the line that I wanted to share the broad categories with you in hope that you’ll prayerfully consider jumping in on some of these sermon series.
- February 3 – Easter: Mark; a trip through Mark to walk in the dust of the Rabbi from the beginning of His earthly ministry to the Resurrection.
- April 28 – May 26: Evangelism; a walk through Acts to see the spread of the early church, the preaching of Peter, and the witness of Paul.
- June 2 – June 16: Disciplines; A look at the source of our disciple-making efforts with Jesus: prayer, Scripture, and Sabbath.
- Summer Series yet to be determined
- August 11 – September 29: Culture; Examinations of key aspects for Christians interfacing with contemporary culture, including topics such as technology, sexuality, and racial reconciliation.
- October 6 – October 27: Vision series for the entire Brentwood Baptist Family
- November 3 – November 17: Grieving; a short series dealing with how Christians are called to deal with loss from Ecclesiastes, Psalms, and Genesis.
- November 24 – December 24: Apocalyptic Christmas; a Christmas series from Revelation to remind us that the little baby in the manger is also the victorious ruler of the universe.
I pray that you recognize the Spirit’s leading in these series, from the Scriptures chosen to the accompanying disciple-making opportunities that will come with each for equipping our people. And I pray you consider elevating these themes with your groups by partnering with our preachers to catalyze an unprecedented kingdom movement in Middle Tennessee and beyond.
Nothing great achieved with Christ for the kingdom has been done without an ocean of prayer accompanying the task. Because of our belief that biblical community through small groups is the most catalytic vehicle for spiritual growth, the task in front of us is enormous: to connect the unconnected and to invite along our lost and searching friends, neighbors, and co-workers into our lives (small groups). Here’s 3 prayer concepts for 2019:
- Intentionally model and encourage prayer for your lost and searching friends, neighbors, and co-workers in your groups. Our dream is that one day in the not-so-distant future every LIFE Group will baptize at least one person per year who has come to faith through the group. When we see LIFE Group leaders and LIFE Group members in our baptisteries baptizing those lost and searching friends, neighbors, and co-workers that they’ve discipled, we’ll know we’ve become a disciple-making culture.
- Become the model for prayer to your congregation by praying at the altar each week during the worship hour with some members of your LIFE Group. At the Brentwood Campus, we are going to send out the prayer requests that we receive from the worship team. We encourage groups to model congregational, altar prayer for our congregation by praying for the real needs of our people.
- Be purposeful about empowering someone in your group to send the weekly prayer request email to the group and your Adult Groups staff member. By reading these prayer reports, we learn about the goings on in your groups. We are able to pray with you and support you as you lead others through the ups and downs of life.
Join the groups teams from each campus by bathing 2019 in prayer to reach our communities in ways we’ve never dreamed.
For the growth of any groups ministry, the 3 S’s are necessary: surfacing on-ramps, sticking tactics, and staying power. Surfacing – How are you surfacing potential group members to become a part of your group; Sticking – What is it in that first or second encounter with a potential group member that causes them to visit and “stick” in your group; Staying – What causes potential group members to stay for the long haul?
Here’s what you can do to increase the surfacing, sticking, and staying capacity of your group:
- Surfacing – Personal Invitation; Mike said Sunday that of the 1.8 million in the greater Nashville area, 1.35 million of them are not connected to any church. A 2016 LifeWay study revealed that only a third of unchurched are likely to come to a church service if invited. While both of these facts are true and can be overwhelming, we encourage you to think about invitation this way: invite people into your life. And what is it that you do? You go to group. So, if you invite people into your life to become a part of who you are, then you will naturally invite them into your group. And the personal invitation into one’s life and community is a relational outreach that is more significant than an invitation to an institution. As the old saying goes: if someone finds Christ in you outside of the church, chances are they’ll find their way with you into the church.
- Sticking – Coffee Person; we’ve discerned within our own community that stickiness in groups increases 100% if the potential member is met outside of group first, giving them time to establish personal relationship. We suggest meeting someone for coffee before you invite them to attend your group meeting so that when they walk into group, they will already have a relational connection. Begin praying and asking people in your group to become The Coffee Person.
- Staying – Service; people are much more likely to stay with a group for the long haul if there is “greater” purpose to be found within the community. One way to foster “greater” purpose is to share the load of leadership of the group, e.g. empower others to teach, greet, prepare food, pray. Another way to develop “greater” purpose for your group is through local and global missions. Partner with a local mission like Reboot or the Brentwood Campus Mental Health Initiative to serve together as a community. We dream of the day when we see every group represented on global mission, e.g. funding a group member to take a mission trip. Share the load of group.
We’re passionate about reaching our neighbors and nations with the Gospel, and we believe the most effective, catalytic way to do that is through small group community. Champion the cause of personal invitation, commissioning a coffee person, and sending a missionary in 2019.