All, Life Groups
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The “Sweet 16″ of Authentic Small Groups

This is a guest post by Michael C. Mack

These 16 commands for living in healthy, authentic community will help your small group change the world. Talk about one shining moment!

  1. Love one another.
  2. Be at peace with each other.
  3. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
  4. Honor one another above yourselves.
  5. Live in harmony with one another.
  6. Stop passing judgment on one another.
  7. Accept one another … just as Christ accepted you.
  8. Instruct one another.
  9. Serve one another in love.
  10. Carry each other’s burdens.
  11. Be kind and compassionate to one another.
  12. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
  13. Admonish one another.
  14. Encourage one another daily.
  15. Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
  16. Confess your sins to each other and pray for one another so you may be healed.

Look through this list with your group. Which are slam dunks for you right now? With which ones do you need more practice?

 

Michael C. Mack founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and has served as a small-groups minister in several churches. He is a writer, editor, trainer, and consultant in the areas of small groups, leadership, and discipleship. He is the author of more than a dozen books and small group studies, including his latest, Small Group Vital Signs. He also regularly blogs at SmallGroupLeadership.blogspot.com. His family is a small group that includes his wife Heidi, their four children, and their dog, Lainey. Mike is also an avid mountain biker.

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All, Leadership, Life Groups
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I love Life Groups Because…

Young_Adult_LifeGroup-16-56I love Life Groups because…

I recently read an article which said these were the top ten reasons why people love Life Groups:

  1. I love getting beyond just saying “hey” to other people on Sunday mornings. Going to church can be hard when you feel like you don’t really know anyone well.
  2. Seeing people talk about what God is doing in their life has challenged and encouraged my faith!
  3. It’s amazing to see that everyone in my LifeGroup has the same challenges my family does. I’ve realized we’re not all alone.
  4. The support my group provides me is invaluable. Through births and deaths, as a group we’ve always been there for each other.
  5. I love seeing people make a breakthrough in their understanding of Jesus and take one step closer to him.
  6. I experience God’s presence among others in a very powerful way.
  7. My LifeGroup has become like a family to me. I don’t have extended family around here, so I can’t tell you how much it means to me.
  8. I finally have deep friendships where I can discuss my life and my faith.
  9. I’ve enjoyed the accountability–having others push me to the next level.
  10. Watching people become Christians and grow as Christians in a LifeGroup makes it all worthwhile.

My Personal List:

>>> I love realizing I’m not the only one to NOT have life figured out.

>>> I love being a part of gatherings where we make memories.

>>> I love having a close relationships that become my second family.

>>> I love getting past the simple hello and goodbye of Sunday morning.

>>> I love hearing someone say, “How was your week?” and they are actually curious.

>>> I love having someone I can tell my funny story to or someone I can cry with.

>>> I love knowing someone is praying for me everyday.

>>> I love being around people who see the best in me and try to help me achieve it not just see the worst in me and expect it.

>>> I love realizing I’m not alone.

Here’s my list, what’s yours?
It’s for all these reasons and more that we will always be passionate about Life Groups. I truly believe true discipleship happens in the context of relationship. When we get together we grow, we become, we feel at home. That’s Life Groups.
That’s Real Life Church.

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A Letter to RLC
0

A Letter To RLC>>>

Hello RLC!
Here are a few things to know:

better

1. NEW SERIES- MR. AND MRS. BETTER HALF. Did you know that when a couple gets married they rolling the dice and there’s a 54% chance their marriage will not see year five? There’s also a remarkably high number of marriages who will see year five but not without many seasons of separation and counseling.
Why do we have this idea that we can just “wing it” when it comes to such a crucial relationship?
We prepare for years and invest thousands of dollars on our profession but we never give a second thought to our relationships. NOT ANYMORE.

In week one we talked about making a commitment to SEEK GOD through praying together everyday. It is amazing what praying together will do. I made the challenge to pray together everyday for the next six or for the duration of this series. You’ll be amazed by the results.

Check out the RLC | PODCAST to discover how you can take a step toward becoming Mr. and Mrs. Betterhalf here–>. RLC | Podcast from the RLC website here.


2. RLC | CONNECT. Don’t forget the number one way to stay up to date with all things are RLC is still RLC | CONNECT. That’s the weekly eNewsletter which releases on Friday mornings around 7:00am.


real.life_.groups3. LIFEGROUPS. When I made the announcement that some of the SPRING LifeGroups had limited seating available so you needed to be quick to reserve your spot, I wasn’t prepared for the response. WOW! There have been so many people signing up it’s amazing and refreshing.

I cannot wait to see Real Life Church grow deeper this semester in our relationship with God and with each other.

The Bible says that “Iron Sharpens Iron” (Proverbs 27:17) which is talking about the positive potential of relationships in our lives. The only thing about that is though, you have to get close. Two pieces of iron cannot sharpen each other from across the room. They have to get close and rub shoulders, get involved, become friends…. in essence “DO LIFE” together. That’s what LifeGroups are about. We’re taking this journey of life seriously and working together to become all God has called us to be. Check out the RLC LifeGroup List on our website and learn more about what’s going on, where to sign up, and check back often for further group information.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR A LIFEGROUP.


sermonseriesheader4. SOMETHING NEW. Recently we’ve added a new feature to the RLC website. Beginning this year, you can few all the messages not just on the Podcast but also on our website. You can also download the notes from the messages. To check out this new FREE resources, click here.

I’m so excited to be a part of Real Life Church and witness all that God is doing in the lives of those who have to call it home. I can’t wait to see what is coming in 2014.

Don’t forget, you’re awesome.

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All
0

Marathon Training: Week 8

Week Eight… DONE!

Quote-

“Today I will run what you will not so that tomorrow I will run what you cannot.” – author unknown

Musings-

Awesome 10 mile run this week.


 

This Week’s Training Schedule and Results:

FAST FINISH RUN 1– 5 miles (4  easy + 1 moderately hard)

FARTLEK RUN 2– Speed Training (3 miles)

FOUNDATION RUN 3– off

LONG- 10 miles

Total number of runs: 3
Total mileage: 18 mile

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All, Life Groups
0

LifeGroup Leader: Take A Step

When leading a life group it can be difficult sometimes to really feel like you are making an impact on those around you. It’s great to have that one on one conversation or to pray with a member but what about everyone else.

The best idea is to have a goal in your mind for each person in your group.

As a life group leader, your primary role is to know the spiritual condition of your group members and then help each of them move one step closer to Christ during the semester. Knowing that can take a lot of pressure off of you. You’re not there to take them all the way from point A to Z in their relationship with God. This semester, let’s focus on one step. So, on your first and second life group meetings, try to identify where each member is and what one step you want to encourage them to take this season.

taking-the-next-step-graphicHere are some practical steps to accomplish this:

1. If a group member is not in a relationship with Christ, then bring them to a church service where they can hear a clear presentation of the Gospel.

2. Encourage group members to be water baptized.

3. Challenge group members to complete the Growth Track.

4. Connect group members to the Dream Team.

This is probably going to be a lot easier than you think to identify.  For instance, if someone becomes part of your group and they have no idea about God at all… they need to meet Jesus. Encourage them to join us on Sunday mornings where they can hear about Christ.  Another example would be maybe someone recently gave their lives to Christ but have no idea what to do next. Encourage them to get baptized and join the Growth Track. It is vital to the health of our groups that we as leaders do all we can to help our members identify their next steps for spiritual growth and encourage them to take them. Simply said—help your group members move towards God this semester!

Proverbs says, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” (Prov. 27:23)

I’m so honored for you to take this journey with me in helping others have deeper, more satisfying relationships with God.


Here are some “ONE STEP” questions and conversation starters…

MOVE ONE STEP STARTER QUESTIONS:

QUESTION: Tell me about your relationship with Jesus. Does your relationship with Jesus take priority in your life?

>>> If no, share with them your personal testimony and offer to pray with them that Jesus will be Lord of their life.
>>> Invite them to a Sunday worship service.

 

QUESTION: Are you regularly attending weekly worship services?

>>> If no, offer to meet them on Sunday before service and sit with them.

 

QUESTION: Have you been water baptized since you have become a believer?

>>> If no, encourage them to be baptized and let the LifeGroup Coordinator know so they can let you know when the next water baptism opportunity will be. Invite the rest of your small group to come for support.

 

QUESTION: Have you completed the Growth Track?

>>> If no, encourage them to attend the Growth Track. Remind them that it does not have to be done in order so they can jump in at any time! Offer to meet your small group members there attend the Growth Track events together.

 

QUESTION: Have you identified your spiritual gifts? Are you using them to serve on the Dream Team?

>>> If no, encourage them to attend Discovery 301 on the third Sunday of the month. Even if they have attended Discovery 301 before, it is fun to attend again to discover new things.

 

QUESTION: Describe your daily Bible reading then ask “Do you use a Bible Reading Plan?”

>>> If no, direct them to the One Year Bible Plan no the Real Life Church Website.page1image17600 page1image17760

 

QUESTION: Do you have relationships that offer accountability?

>>> If no, encourage them to find an accountability partner especially within the group.

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A Letter to RLC, All
0

A Letter to RLC>>>

Hello RLC!
Here are a few things to know:

1. TOXIC 4- TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS.Yesterday we finished up the series TOXIC talking about the power and the simplicity of the Gospel. Our desire to be RIGHT and do RIGHT is a great thing. However when we let the WHAT override the WHO in our relationship with God it can become TOXIC RELIGION. We discussed how TOXIC

Toxic_-series.graphic

RELIGION focuses on the external work rather than the internal transformation.

The most tweeted comment from yesterday was, “If all you get out of Christianity is a bunch of rules and moral code, you’ve missed the point. It’s about a relationship with God.”

Check out the RLC | PODCAST to discover how to understand Toxic Words. RLC | Podcast from the RLC website here.


better2. NEW SERIES- MR. AND MRS. BETTER HALF. Did you know that when a couple gets married they rolling the dice and there’s a 54% chance their marriage will not see year five? There’s also a remarkably high number of marriages who will see year five but not without many seasons of separation and counseling.
Why do we have this idea that we can just “wing it” when it comes to such a crucial relationship?
We prepare for years and invest thousands of dollars on our profession but we never give a second thought to our relationships. NOT ANYMORE.

This series is not just for married couples. If you are divorced, engaged, or just hope to snag someone someday, this series is for you.


3. RLC | CONNECT. Don’t forget the number one way to stay up to date with all things are RLC is still RLC | CONNECT. That’s the weekly eNewsletter which releases on Friday mornings around 7:00am.

 


2nd-anniversary-celebration4.  TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY. It’s hard to believe but RLC is coming up on it’s 2 year anniversary. Come celebrate this amazing occasion February 2nd.

 

 

 


growthtrackheader..small.front 5. SPECIAL TIME FOR CHURCH 101. When Real Life Church first launched in 2012, we had so many people with so many questions about our church. Not only that but there were also many who were experiencing the love of God and committing their lives to Christ at an amazing rate. We felt that these two challenges were related. People needed to know what to do in taking the first steps of their faith as well as understand if RLC was the place to do that.

To address both of these challenges we began doing something we called GROWTH TRACK. This process is intended to help people begin the journey from wherever they are and move them toward becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. The first step along the way is what we called CHURCH 101. It’s a time when we discuss the power of the local church in our lives and what it’s all about.

Now, to celebrate YEAR TWO of RLC and moving into this new stage of our church, we’re launching GROWTH TRACK again beginning FEBRUARY 2nd. Join us as we move toward Christ and becoming closer to God and each other together. Fore more information about GROWTH TRACK, click here.

BIG UPDATE:
BECAUSE OF SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, we will be having CHURCH 101 THIS SUNDAY AT –>4:00PM<–

Now you can learn about Real Life Church and be home in time for the game.


real.life_.groups6. LIFEGROUPS. When I made the announcement that some of the SPRING LifeGroups had limited seating available so you needed to be quick to reserve your spot, I wasn’t prepared for the response. WOW! There have been so many people signing up it’s amazing and refreshing.

I cannot wait to see Real Life Church grow deeper this semester in our relationship with God and with each other.

The Bible says that “Iron Sharpens Iron” (Proverbs 27:17) which is talking about the positive potential of relationships in our lives. The only thing about that is though, you have to get close. Two pieces of iron cannot sharpen each other from across the room. They have to get close and rub shoulders, get involved, become friends…. in essence “DO LIFE” together. That’s what LifeGroups are about. We’re taking this journey of life seriously and working together to become all God has called us to be. Check out the RLC LifeGroup List on our website and learn more about what’s going on, where to sign up, and check back often for further group information.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR A LIFEGROUP.


 

I’m so excited to be a part of Real Life Church and witness all that God is doing in the lives of those who have to call it home. I can’t wait to see what is coming in 2014.

Don’t forget, you’re awesome.

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All
0

Marathon Training: Week 7

Week Seven… DONE!

Quote-

“Today I will run what you will not so that tomorrow I will run what you cannot.” – author unknown

Musings-

Wow it was cold this week. It was snowing and slippery, etc.
However, the quote this week really helped a lot. I kept thinking about all those people who will be breaking out their running in a couple of months and starting up running. I will be just about to run a marathon. It doesn’t get harder than this. All downhill from here. Anything worth having is worth working hard for.


 

This Week’s Training Schedule and Results:

FAST FINISH RUN 1– 4 miles (3.5  easy + .5 moderately hard)

FARTLEK RUN 2– Speed Training (3 miles)

FOUNDATION RUN 3– 3 miles

LONG- 6 miles

Total number of runs: 4
Total mileage: 16 mile

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All, prayer|fasting
0

21 Day Challenge: BODY

Here it is, the final week, of our 21 Day Challenge. The first week we focused on the Mind and gave you a reading plan. The second week we focused on the Spirit and we did the Daniel Fast and had recipes online. This week, our last week of the 7 day challenge, we are focusing on the Body. During these seven days, we are going to do some type of exercise for at least 20 minutes each day. And, I want to encourage you to keep going with the reading and the fasting as you finish this week strong!

The Bible tells us that our bodies are temples to house the Holy Spirit. Because we are His Temple, we should take care of our bodies BUT because we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, He gives us the strength we need to take care of ourselves!

Exercise may already be a part of your daily life…if so, I want to encourage you to dig a little deeper these next seven days. Run an extra mile, do extra push up’s, etc. If exercise is new to you, you can start somewhere! Today in the lobby after service we will have a table that has information about 2 different exercise programs in the area that are FREE to you this week!

Here is a list of suggestions for the next 7 days…

*Walk on the treadmill or in your neighborhood

*Go for a jog/run

*Ride your bike

*Jump rope

*Do push up’s, sit up’s stretches and lunges

*Do an interval workout (run for 5 minutes, walk for 5 minutes, repeat)

*Swim laps

*Take a class at your local gym (spin class, dance class, aerobics)

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A Letter to RLC, All
0

A Letter to RLC>>>

Hello RLC!
As we move into this week, here are a few things to share with you:

1. TOXIC 3- TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS. As the New Year continues to take shape many of us at RLC have captured a “ONE THING”, a God-sized VISION for our lives in 2014. Getting an idea for what this is. The next step is identifying possible pitfalls and hijackers which will try to sabotage our progress. To do this we began a new series entitled TOXIC. In Part 1 we focused on dealing with TOXIC THOUGHTS. In Part 2, we moved on to MANAGING TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS.  This past weekend we talked about TOXIC WORDS.
It’s amazing to realize how powerful our words are. The Book of Proverbs is full of instruction on how to use our words effectively even going so far as to state that “life and death is in the power of the tongue.”

Check out the RLC | PODCAST to discover how to understand Toxic Words. RLC | Podcast from the RLC website here.

Toxic_-series.graphic


2. RLC | CONNECT. Don’t forget the number one way to stay up to date with all things are RLC is still RLC | CONNECT. That’s the weekly eNewsletter which releases on Friday mornings around 7:00am.

 


2nd-anniversary-celebration3.  TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY. It’s hard to believe but RLC is coming up on it’s 2 year anniversary. Come celebrate this amazing occasion February 2nd.

 

 


21214. MIND | SOUL | BODY.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23) “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”

This is the last week of our 21 day challenge and I’ve been so blessed to watch people taking the challenge to further their relationship with God and get their year started right.

If you’ve missed this journey, check it out at www.thereallifechurch.org


growthtrackheader..small.front 5. CHURCH 101. When Real Life Church first launched in 2012, we had so many people with so many questions about our church. Not only that but there were also many who were experiencing the love of God and committing their lives to Christ at an amazing rate. We felt that these two challenges were related. People needed to know what to do in taking the first steps of their faith as well as understand if RLC was the place to do that.

To address both of these challenges we began doing something we called GROWTH TRACK. This process is intended to help people begin the journey from wherever they are and move them toward becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. The first step along the way is what we called CHURCH 101. It’s a time when we discuss the power of the local church in our lives and what it’s all about.

Now, to celebrate YEAR TWO of RLC and moving into this new stage of our church, we’re launching GROWTH TRACK again beginning FEBRUARY 2nd. Join us as we move toward Christ and becoming closer to God and each other together. Fore more information about GROWTH TRACK, click here.


 

I’m so excited to be a part of Real Life Church and witness all that God is doing in the lives of those who have to call it home. I can’t wait to see what is coming in 2014.

Don’t forget, you’re awesome.

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All
0

Marathon Training: Week 6

Week Six… DONE!

Quote-

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” -unknown

Musings-

Wow it was cold this week.


 

This Week’s Training Schedule and Results:

FAST FINISH RUN 1– 5 miles (4.5  easy + .5 moderately hard)

FARTLEK RUN 2– Speed Training (3 miles)

FOUNDATION RUN 3– 4 miles

XT Day– 30 minutes (first attempt at running 9 fail. It was snowing and slick outside. I chickened out.- 1 mile)

LONG- 9 miles

Total number of runs: 4
Total mileage: 19 mile

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All
0

Share Your Story

In the book of Acts, Jesus sends his followers out to be a witness to the ways in which they’ve seen God at work both in their lives and in the world around them. They aren’t asked to be persuasive or compelling. Instead, they were simply asked to go tell the stories of what they had seen and experienced. And as they do, incredible things begin to happen. One story leads to another and another — opening up a world of endless possibility!

So what’s your story? Real Life Church has recently added a page to our website giving you a chance to share with us your story.

Here’s a link to it.

We’d love to hear how God is moving in your life.

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All, Books
0

Book Review: Killing Lincoln

9780805093070_custom-54bdca8cdcaddc95dbf0e264880bcfb10d87eaed-s6-c30Title: Killing Lincoln

Link to Book

My Review: 

Abraham Lincoln has always been one of my favorite presidents. I couldn’t help but be interested in a book that sheds even further light onto the last days of his life. This book was entertaining and though provoking. While it won’t be for everyone, it was something I was glad to have read. My main takeaway were:

-You leave a legacy when you die. Make sure you are remembered well.

I realize some will not read this book mainly because of who the author is. However, if you can get past your dislike for Bill O’Reilly you will enjoy the best kind of storytelling: True History.

From Amazon:

A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first work of history from mega-bestselling author Bill O’Reilly

The anchor of The O’Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America’s Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln’s generous terms for Robert E. Lee’s surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln’s dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.

In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies’ man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country’s most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history’s most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.

 

My Rating: 5 of 5

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