Unexpectedly Trained for the Next Step

Unexpectedly Trained for the Next Step

Dear Courageous Church,

Three years ago, Josh asked if I wanted to be a part of a church plant.  There wasn’t a name.  There wasn’t a location.  And there weren’t even people.  We sat down week after week to dream and plan and soon started to have weekly gatherings.  When we sat down to discuss my role in the church.  I assumed since I had been a youth pastor for over a decade, I would be creating a youth program.  Josh had other plans and told me “I believe your gifts, talents and abilities lend themselves to develop our group life.”

Immediately I went and wrote out plan for small groups.  Small groups have always been a part of my ministries and I had a time proven plan.  As I started praying over the plan, I quickly realized that we would not be using my standard plan for small groups.  I had been entrusted to develop a group life that would become the culture of the church.  Whether that be home groups, cell groups, discipleship groups, journey groups, missional groups, community groups, missional community groups or any other name you might call them – Josh trusted me to come up with what was going to be best for Courageous Church.  I read dozens of books, went to conference after conference and talked to anyone that would talk to me about groups and communities.  Out of that study, came Courageous Life.

For the past three years, my ministry has been focused on what people need from a community.  What people need to contribute, how they contribute, what they need out of and need to put into a community. I studied how a community develops, functions, grows, and multiplies.  For the past three years, I have been studying and learning how people connect for the sake of the gospel.  How joyful and fun it has been to watch God work in and through Courageous Church and Courageous Life.  To see others be used by God and be used in ways they didn’t even know about, yet.

Last July, I got a phone call from a sweet lady in Georgia.  As we talked she told me all about her church and their needs.  I finally asked what they were looking for specifically.  She told me that they were seeking an Associate Pastor who could connect people.  God works in crazy ways and uses us in the most unexpected ways.  God has used you Courageous Church to train me to connect people for His glory. On January 18th, I was called by First Baptist Richmond Hill to become their Associate Pastor for the purpose of connecting people to each other and to Jesus Christ.

By watching how God has been preparing me, I am absolutely convinced that God has prepared this specific step for my life. So out of obedience, I will faithfully and trustingly take that step.

I love you.  You know I do.  I have told you every time we have prayed together as a church family.  Know that more than having the honor of being one of your pastors, I have the privilege of calling you my friends.

Always Serving Beside You,

Haley

Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2015

How to Have Great Missional Communities

How to Have Great Missional Communities

This one is for all my missional community groups out there.  My last two post were geared toward the small groups of youth at camp and at church.  This was due to being asked to speak to small group leaders of a camp on how to do small groups.  The last 3 years of my ministry has been dedicated to forming missional communities for adults in a church plant.  It really doesn’t matter though what kind of small group we are discussing, the principle behind the concept is the same for all groups.  The more time you spend outside of your missional community with people from your missional community, the better your actual missional community will be.

The more time you spend outside of your missional community with people from your missional community, the better your missional community will be.

Leaders, think about what you want for your the members of your missional communities or what constitutes a good missional community.  What you really want is for people to open up to each other, to share their deep concerns, hurts, praises, and live life with each other.  It can take an entire semester of year to even come close to that kind of bonding between adults if you just see each other in the missional community and at church.  However, if there is a concerted effort to spend time with each other out side of the missional community meeting time, when you sent down for the group time, it will be a much more valuable time.

For example, I recently had a group plan to all go eat with each other after church.  A very old yet simple and effective idea.  They finally left the restaurant after over 3 hours of talking with each other.  They got to know one another on a whole new level, a fun and social level.  I attended that groups next meeting and it was one of the most productive missional communities I have ever been a part of.  Everyone participated and shared their thoughts and opinions like they had never been closer.  They didn’t have to spend that time getting into each others lives, they were already in each others lives so they could move forward in their purpose.

So how does this look for your Missional Communities?

  • It’s Just Lunch

How crazy are our work days?!?!  Sometimes its hard to even find time to eat.  On the flip side, many of us spend our lunches in networking groups where lunch is part of the deal.  If you as a leader will simply schedule lunches far enough out with your group members, they can make it and they will find it a much needed breather from work.  Furthermore, if your group members will begin to schedule lunches with each other they will find friendships begin to flourish.  These aren’t bible studies, prayer meetings, or counseling sessions.  It’s just lunch between friends getting to know each other.

Every time you meet with each other it doesn’t have to be a bible study, prayer meeting, or counseling session.  It really can just be friends.

  • DYI

Have a “Honey-Do” list a mile long?  Or maybe your buddy just got a new dog and has to put up a fence.  Or your friend is having a baby and really needs to get the walls painted and ceiling fans hung before the baby arrives.  Perhaps there is a new craft or nicknack that you want to make.  Or maybe someone you know has been sick and their lawn is over grown and the shrubs look hideous.  I think you get the point.  If there is something to do and or work on, it is a great time to spend time with each other.  Beside the fact that and extra set of hands is always helpful, think of the time you get to spend with each other and shoot the breeze.  If you shoot the breeze enough with someone, eventually the storm in their life or yours will come and you can face it together.  My own salvation story revolves around a handful of men spending time with me teaching me how to use my hands to build a building.

If you shoot the breeze enough, eventually the storms will come.

  • Play Dates

I’m admit out of my league here, but think I need to mention it.  If you have young kids, there is no better fun for them and a reprieve from having to entertain them, than having them play with other kids.  This can easily be done during the week if you don’t have to work or even after work.  But then how much fun is a simple grill out on the weekend and have someone over for a play date with your kids.  The kids get to play together and you get some great time to just hang out with people your age.

  • Sports & TV Shows

Ok, back to my wheelhouse.  Where I live, every Saturday in the fall  has the possibility to be an event.  All I need is a reason to get together will some friends and eat; most of the time we call that the big game.  Honestly, there are Saturdays where I go to 3 or more houses to watch different games.  These are the times when you can just be yourself and cheer for your team and talk “polite” trash about the other team and more importantly spend time with people.  If you are intentional about this, your small group can easily be a part of these events.  For a long time I have been getting together to watch TV shows.  I remember in college a bunch of us would get together to watch Survivor and Friends.  To tell you the truth, I don’t even like Survivor (except for the games), but I would go just to be around those people.  Right now, I get together with a group of people on Sunday nights to watch a certain show that will remain nameless (it’s The Walking Dead).  At this point, we watch the show and discuss it, but we are really there to be with each other, not for some stupid show.  But, its those times of conversation during half time or during commercials or after the game that we really get to know each other.

I don’t even like what I am watching, I just want to be with the people.

  • Community Missions

Want to get close to a group quick, serve with them.  Do something for someone else.  Walk the streets of a neighborhood and pick up trash, all you have to do is talk and pick up garbage.  Go sort food for the city food pantry, all you have to do is sort and talk.  Build a wheelchair ramp or roof a house for someone, all you have to do is build and you got it, talk.  Get the point.  People love to tell stories, our stories are our lives, tell each other your stories and you know each others lives.

Of course there are other ways to spend time with each other, these are just a few.  Get out there and get to know each other, then when you sit down to spend time with God together, watch God do some incredible things.  I have promised again and again, if you will spend the time outside of your missional community time, you will have great missional communities.

If you will spend the time outside of your missional community time, you will have great missional communities.

Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2014

 

How To Have Great Adult Small Groups

How to Have Great Adult Small GroupsAlright adults, its your turn.  My last two post were geared toward the small groups of youth at camp and at church.  This was due to being asked to speak to small group leaders of a camp on how to do small groups.  The last 3 years of my ministry has been dedicated to forming small groups (missional communities) for adults in a church plant.  It really doesn’t matter though what kind of small group we are discussing, the principle behind the concept is the same for all groups.  The more time you spend outside of your small group with people from your small group, the better your actual small group will be.

The more time you spend outside of your small group with people from your small group, the better your small group will be.

Leaders, think about what you want for your the members of your small groups or what constitutes a good small group.  What you really want is for people to open up to each other, to share their deep concerns, hurts, praises, and live life with each other.  It can take an entire semester of year to even come close to that kind of bonding between adults if you just see each other in the small group and at church.  However, if there is a concerted effort to spend time with each other out side of the small group meeting time, when you sent down for the group time, it will be a much more valuable time.

For example, I recently had a group plan to all go eat with each other after church.  A very old yet simple and effective idea.  They finally left the restaurant after over 3 hours of talking with each other.  They got to know one another on a whole new level, a fun and social level.  I attended that groups next meeting and it was one of the most productive small groups I have ever been a part of.  Everyone participated and shared their thoughts and opinions like they had never been closer.  They didn’t have to spend that time getting into each others lives, they were already in each others lives so they could move forward in their purpose.

So how does this look for your Adult Small Groups?

  • It’s Just Lunch

How crazy are our work days?!?!  Sometimes its hard to even find time to eat.  On the flip side, many of us spend our lunches in networking groups where lunch is part of the deal.  If you as a leader will simply schedule lunches far enough out with your group members, they can make it and they will find it a much needed breather from work.  Furthermore, if your group members will begin to schedule lunches with each other they will find friendships begin to flourish.  These aren’t bible studies, prayer meetings, or counseling sessions.  It’s just lunch between friends getting to know each other.

Every time you meet with each other it doesn’t have to be a bible study, prayer meeting, or counseling session.  It really can just be friends.

  • DYI

Have a “Honey-Do” list a mile long?  Or maybe your buddy just got a new dog and has to put up a fence.  Or your friend is having a baby and really needs to get the walls painted and ceiling fans hung before the baby arrives.  Perhaps there is a new craft or nicknack that you want to make.  Or maybe someone you know has been sick and their lawn is over grown and the shrubs look hideous.  I think you get the point.  If there is something to do and or work on, it is a great time to spend time with each other.  Beside the fact that and extra set of hands is always helpful, think of the time you get to spend with each other and shoot the breeze.  If you shoot the breeze enough with someone, eventually the storm in their life or yours will come and you can face it together.  My own salvation story revolves around a handful of men spending time with me teaching me how to use my hands to build a building.

If you shoot the breeze enough, eventually the storms will come.

  • Play Dates

I’m admit out of my league here, but think I need to mention it.  If you have young kids, there is no better fun for them and a reprieve from having to entertain them, than having them play with other kids.  This can easily be done during the week if you don’t have to work or even after work.  But then how much fun is a simple grill out on the weekend and have someone over for a play date with your kids.  The kids get to play together and you get some great time to just hang out with people your age.

  • Sports & TV Shows

Ok, back to my wheelhouse.  Where I live, every Saturday in the fall  has the possibility to be an event.  All I need is a reason to get together will some friends and eat; most of the time we call that the big game.  Honestly, there are Saturdays where I go to 3 or more houses to watch different games.  These are the times when you can just be yourself and cheer for your team and talk “polite” trash about the other team and more importantly spend time with people.  If you are intentional about this, your small group can easily be a part of these events.  For a long time I have been getting together to watch TV shows.  I remember in college a bunch of us would get together to watch Survivor and Friends.  To tell you the truth, I don’t even like Survivor (except for the games), but I would go just to be around those people.  Right now, I get together with a group of people on Sunday nights to watch a certain show that will remain nameless (it’s The Walking Dead).  At this point, we watch the show and discuss it, but we are really there to be with each other, not for some stupid show.  But, its those times of conversation during half time or during commercials or after the game that we really get to know each other.

I don’t even like what I am watching, I just want to be with the people.

  • Community Missions

Want to get close to a group quick, serve with them.  Do something for someone else.  Walk the streets of a neighborhood and pick up trash, all you have to do is talk and pick up garbage.  Go sort food for the city food pantry, all you have to do is sort and talk.  Build a wheelchair ramp or roof a house for someone, all you have to do is build and you got it, talk.  Get the point.  People love to tell stories, our stories are our lives, tell each other your stories and you know each others lives.

Of course there are other ways to spend time with each other, these are just a few.  Get out there and get to know each other, then when you sit down to spend time with God together, watch God do some incredible things.  I have promised again and again, if you will spend the time outside of your small group time, you will have great small groups.

 

 If you will spend the time outside of your small group time, you will have great small groups.

© Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

How to Have Great Small Groups – Youth

How To Have Great Small Groups 2

Small groups in the youth world have been around for a long time and in lots of different forms.  Sunday School, table groups, home groups, cell groups, disciple groups, core groups… the list of names goes on and on and on.  There is a key out there that works no matter what you call your small groups for your youth.  This is part 2 of 3 of How to Have Great Small Groups.  In the first post I dealt with small groups at camps, this will be based for small groups in youth groups and the next post will deal with adult groups.  The key for all 3 of these groups is the exact same, just worded a little differently.  If you will train your leaders to invest in those in their small group outside of the small group setting, their small group time will become great.

If you spend time outside of your small group investing into those in your small group you will have great groups.

How does this look for your youth group?

  • Sporting Events & Extra Curricular Activities

This is so simple, really it is.  Do you students play any sport?  Really any sport will do.  Most if not all schools now post their athletic schedules online, you don’t even have to ask the student or their parents when and where they play.  A simple Google search will give you all the dates the students play their sports.  And then show up.  It’s really that easy.  For most student athletes outside of perhaps football and basketball, only their parents and a few friends come to watch them play.  When you show up as a youth worker, they feel special.  Have you ever been to a debate team competition?  If you have a student on the debate team, you better be at their competition.  Band competition, yep, be there, you don’t even have to know what’s going on, just be there.  This is the easiest way to get into your students lives and as youth workers we drop the ball so many times.  Dance recitals, swimming and diving competitions, cross country races, and whatever else your students are into need to be flooded with youth workers that care.

Make someone feel special and your have their attention!

Bonus! Take another student or a few students with you.  The more the merrier and the more special the student feels, not to mention the students you bring feel like that matter as well.

  • Get Outside

Going for a hike today, take a student.  Going on a bike ride, take a student.  Going fishing, take a student.  Want to go see a baseball game, take a student.  I think you get the idea here.  If and when you can, take a student to go do what you love to do.  Part of getting into students lives is allowing them into yours.  They already look up to you, if you allow them in on your hobbies, they will quickly become their hobbies.  Car rides are great times to talk, when you rest from that set of tennis, that’s a great time to talk as well.  When you go, take a student.

It all comes down to spending the time to get into students lives.

  • Bring Them In

Students want to hangout, so why not create the hangout.  These are really simple to do and don’t take much money if any.  For instance, there are so many classic movies out there that students have never seen.  Watch a group of guys get pumped up about spending all night watching the original Star Wars Trilogy, or the Goonies.  Does your church have a basketball court or a volleyball court, game on.   How about those really big screens that are used for words on Sunday mornings, yeah, those make great video game screens as well.  Trust me, food and something to do is all it takes to get students to hang around you.  Do it right once and they will be begging to hangout again.

As youth pastors and leaders, we too often get caught up in the lessons and the programs.  If you train your leaders and they are solid in the word, the lessons of life and Biblical foundation will be gained in time.  What I want out of my leaders is for students to be around them.  If students want to be around me or them, I can get them to Jesus.  Its up to Jesus from there.

As a pastor I will take youth leaders and volunteers that hustle over those who are incredible teachers.

© Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014