Monday, August 10, 2009

Marriage Monday: Through the announcement and on to small groups we go

Hey gang!

It’s Monday and the start of another week. Do you ever get the fear of making announcements? I know I do. I talked about beginning a series on God’s will a few weeks back and the series had two quiet parts and then got pushed back. Why? Other things came up. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

However, Mondays and Wednesdays have remained the most popular days on the website on Blogger, along with very little activity on MySpace. The truth is that Marriage Mondays and Wisdom Wednesdays have been consistent because they have been themed and have been carried through rather well. If either of these days runs a little late, I get an email or two. For that, I thank you guys. I mean that. It shows me that you are anxious to read these nuggets of life.

The newest announcement to the website is coming today, here in this column in fact. The mission statement of One Man Revival has always had two parts. You didn’t realize OMR had a mission statement? Neither did a lot of people. The first part of the mission statement is that the blogs were to be of encouragement or discipleship base for Christians and Christian life. I think I’ve done very well with that one. The second mission statement is that I want this ministry to walk alongside the church to be a blessing to what God is doing on the local, national and international scene. Not so good on this one, but it’s not due to a lack of effort.

Thankfully, an opportunity to get known a little has come. One of my colleagues at my home church of New Hope here in Effingham joked with me the other day that my ministry, as good as it has been, is probably one of the best kept secrets in town. Well, thanks to an open door, that might not be the case for long.

Starting on Friday, September 11, (Yes, Patriot Day 2009) a new Friday column will be born. The new column will be called GIG Blog Friday. For those of you at New Hope, you probably know about these groups so this next little bit is an explanation for everyone else.

GIG (Growing in God) groups are New Hope’s small group settings across the area. They are groups of 6-12 people that get together and become better friends, accountability partners and learn about what God is giving them this week. Small groups aren’t a new concept. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

So each Friday, I will be giving a preview of what will be talked about from the pulpit by my pastors Van Brooks, Tyler Sterchi and/or Bill Burry. I won’t be giving you their sermon though. What I will be giving is a different slant, some question ideas that I and some other fine people have come up with and some other resources that can be used in the GIG groups the following week. For those of you not in GIG. Don’t feel bad. This will be your home for a preview of the messages that are coming. Fun stuff.

A couple more announcements for some things going on here at OMR for you to look for, then I’ll talk about how this fits into Marriage Mondays.

First, for the rest of this month, the primary focus of One Man Revival’s Tuesday-Thursday-Friday blogs will be on small groups and community. Then in September, I do have a new series of blogs starting in those day slots that aren’t taken by our series. I’ll talk more about that on September 1. Two other important blog days to remember this month. First, tomorrow we will be joined by author Sandy Hancock, talking about her book Letting Go, Pathway to an Amazing Life. If you want to be happier and more blessed of God, join us for that. The other blog tour note is on Thursday, August 27. Linda A. Olson will be stopping by and talking about her new book, Exceeding Your Expectations, Learning the Ten Leadership Principles that Guarantee Results. For those of you wanting to tone up your skills in leadership, don’t miss this day.

Finally, so Frank, how do small groups tie into marriage? I’m glad you asked.

Here’s a video of what not to do with your small group.

OK, if you watched the video. I hope you can come back to earth. They weren’t THAT funny.

Anyhow, if you know me, you know that I am a big proponent of small groups. Throughout the rest of this month, I’ll share a few other stories of how small groups have influenced my life in Christianity, but I’ll start today with this one.

It was 2002. For over a year, I had been out of the singles’ ministry and had been exclusively hanging out with the teens in their ministry and helping out in any way I could. In March, I was asked by a friend of mine to consider coming back to the singles to help out teaching it. I had a large plate going, but after a month, I accepted the invitation. Within a few weeks, I had established myself as the teacher of the group that met on Fridays and this group was about 15-20 on a strong night. There were that many before I got there.

The activities of a singles group night composed of the following. Meeting at someone’s house or at the church gym and having food, fellowship, then about a 30 minute devotional done by me (well, that was the intended time frame) then more fellowship. The one thing about this small group was that everyone hung around and talked honestly about life. It was really the first group that I had been involved with that had done since the early years of my Christianity.

One night, this lady sat next to me and we talked about life for about two hours. People began to leave around 10:00pm and we agreed to talk next week as well. After about six weeks of these discussions at the end of fellowship time, she asked me out. Why? I had made a promise to God not to ask anyone out and be focused on leading. Three of our first five dates were either at a wedding or a reception of a wedding. The great part of our beginning date life was that we hung out with a large crowd. After a couple months of this, we spent most of the 4th of July weekend talking while driving back and forth to events and the beach.

A few weeks later, I asked that woman to marry me. Yes, it was my wife, Mindy. We were married a few months later, but a lot of the interest was stoked by being faithful and showing up at the small group. There are many of those friends that keep in contact with us today. The guy that brought me into the group was my best man.

The GIG groups at New Hope are couples oriented and there is one group that is ladies oriented, but small groups can be singles meeting together. There are a few extra rules I would probably put in though.

1. Become friends first. Before trying to matchmake in a singles’ group, be sure to make sure that there is a common bond. I talked recently about being equally yoked. These groups are excellent places to talk to others and find that equal yoke. Make sure your Christian goals are similar.

2. Don’t allow predatory behavior. That’s right folks. One danger of singles’ groups is that there are people there without a pure intention. These are to be singles’ groups, not dating circles.

3. Allow time for both people to enjoy their single hood and begin seeking God’s will for their own lives before trying to complicate things with dating. God has a purpose for each person. A season of singleness is not the end of the world. It may feel like it, but finding a love in and with God will prepare your heart for the person that will become your mate.

4. Finally, keep events in open, public places or in large numbers. I know people may laugh, but when I taught at other peoples’ homes, if I became the last guy and there were two girls left, it was time to go. God tells us not even to give the appearance of sin. This is possibly the hardest thing to do in singles ministries. Why? Because eventually no one wants to be single.

I shared my own story of a happy ending to tell you that there is hope. If two people can bond in a small group in the beginning of their relationship, how much more can you benefit from being a married couple in a small group. Not only do you find friends in other couples, you learn more about your own marriage and advice from other couples, good and bad. You learn the words of wisdom to keep and the words of wisdom that you chuck over in trash can as you leave.

Being a married couple does a couple things for you.

1. It strengthens your bond with other couples.
2. It strengthens your bond with each other. Not only are you getting words from God, but you are investing time in each other.

One of the beautiful I share with the Marriage Ministry leaders of our church often is that investing that time has been the biggest payday that I’ve received as a member of my church. Everything from the Sunday school classes to the ideas of date nights and encouragement from other couples has been nothing but blessing for my marriage.

So for you, finding a small group might be right for you. I know some of you may not have time or energy, but I will tell you that it is an investment worth making.

I love you guys!

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