Archive for July, 2013
On a spring afternoon in 1975, while sitting in my dorm room in the Sid Richardson Dormitory at Howard Payne University, I really sensed that God spoke to me some of the most powerful words in my life. Through His Word, the Bible, He shouted some words into my soul that still live today.
You see, I was about to complete my freshman year, and really did not want to get a secular job again for the summer. I knew God had something for me, but I did not know what it was. I wanted to preach. I wanted to make a Kingdom difference.
When We Are Desperate, God Speaks
I was so desperate for God to do something. As I cried out to Him, in time, the words written in the Scripture shouted at me. Surely you have been there in your life. You know, when the written words on the pages of the Bible stand up and shout truth to the deepest part of your soul.
Yes, to this simple college freshman preacher, desperate for God to use him, these words came to me from Psalm 75:6-7:
For promotion does not come from the east, north, or south; but God is the judge. He puts down one and sets up another.
Oh my, when He declared those words to me, I owned them! I claimed them. Better yet, those words owned me! Yes, when we are desperate, God speaks!
It Is Not Who You Know, But the God You Know
When I was growing up, I heard these words again and again from all kinds of people. You have probably also heard them: “It is not what you know, but who you know.” I bought into that phrase hook, line, and sinker, even though I did not know anyone of fame!
Growing up in my hometown of 5,000 people and being raised in a very small church, I did not know anyone with any great influence, and no one with great influence knew me. Yet, until that spring afternoon in 1975, I bought into that pseudo-counsel from the world, “It is not what you know, but who you know.”
Here is what I learned on that afternoon: “It is not who you know, but the God you know!” You see, that afternoon, it all connected. All of those private moments with God had helped me develop the most important relationship we have in life, our relationship with God Himself. Knowing Him is the key to your future.
God Uses People, But God Is Sovereign Over All People
Sure, God uses people, but let’s remember today: God is sovereign over all people! As I walked by faith in the power of Psalm 75:6-7, God placed people in my pathway of life. He used those people to lay the roadmap for my summer. I preached in all kinds of places, even in the state of Montana. He met all of my needs.
I am convinced God promoted me and raised me up that summer to teach me a long-term lesson about ministry. The life lesson was, “Ronnie, I will promote you, you don’t have to promote yourself.” I felt He did not want me to play by the bondage of the ministry game, but walk with Him and trust Him.
What happened in that dorm room in the spring of 1975 had a major impact on me. Psalm 75:6-7 are my life verses. I have tried my best to pray them consistently and to live by them daily.
Next week on Wednesday, August 7, I’ll talk about the Four Lessons Every Pastor Needs to Know that I have learned from these verses.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Every church leader knows the importance of getting people into small group communities. Whether it’s called Sunday School, LifeGroups, home groups, small groups, fellowship communities or something else, participation is a critical factor in spiritual growth.
A 2013 survey from LifeWay Research shows how concerns about spiritual growth and small groups are well founded. When asked how many times per month they attend small classes or groups from their church, 41% of 2,930 protestant churchgoers said “zero times.” Another 12% of respondents indicated only once per month. That means more than half of people in our churches are in a small group one-quarter of the time or less.
Small Group Involvement is Important
This disconnect is bad for the family of faith. Paul’s use of a literal human body with eyes, ears, nose and the rest as an example of the church is helpful here. Even if a person is “connected” by membership, yet not connected by fellowship, is he or she truly a part? How can we connect people to a small group for genuine fellowship, Bible study and discipling with wisdom?
Four Practical Steps for Helping People See the Importance of Small Groups
- The pastor must talk about it. It holds true in almost every single church, that what the pastor emphasizes is considered most important. This may not be best, but it is accurate. As such, the senior or lead pastor must frequently stress the importance of small-group participation.
- It must be easy to get involved in a small group. If all groups are always closed, how can a new person get involved? If opportunities, times, room numbers, addresses and clear instructions are never provided in written or web formats, people do not know how to become involved. Set up a permanent table in the lobby or hallway with a knowledgeable person to answer questions. Have a dedicated Small Group FAQ page on your church website.
- Elevate the importance of small groups in your worship services. This can be done by having leader testimonies, member testimonies, or bringing entire groups onto the stage. The pastor should talk about his own group and his participation in it. Celebrate when new groups are started, and possibly have a commissioning time in the service for new leaders.
- Use a new small-group study to involve new people. One reason I am excited about Bible Studies for Life is it will help get and keep us on the same page. Consider using it as a means of re-launching or emphasizing the importance of small groups in your church. By nature, people tend to be drawn to something new. If everyone is starting at the same time, some of the awkwardness of joining is removed. Use a new, church-wide study to create an exciting sense of purpose and new people will respond.
Help your church body stay healthy by helping your people connect and grow in small groups.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church Northwest Arkansas
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life