February 2010
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by Cheryl Shireman

Surfing is the art of riding the waves that God builds. God makes the waves; surfers just ride them. No surfer tries to create waves. If the Surferwaves aren't there, you just don't surf that day! On the other hand, when surfers see a good wave, they make the most of it, even if it means surfing in the middle of a storm...Our job as church leaders, like experienced surfers, is to recognize a wave of God's Spirit and ride it. It is not our responsibility to make waves, but to recognize how God is working in the world and join him in the endeavor.

I can relate to these words Rick Warren wrote in the Purpose Driven Church.

My youngest daughter, Scarlett, is a surfer - despite the fact that she grew up in Indiana. On a trip to California, I watched her as she paddled her board out into the vast ocean and then changed direction and turned to position herself on the board as she saw a large wave...
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You Do Not Want to Miss This!

Community U promises to be the "must attend" small group conference of the year!

Hurry and save $99. Register by Monday for St. Louis!

Small Group Point Leaders, instead of "bringing the conference back" to your small group leaders, bring them to the conference! There is simply no better way to cast vision for small groups than to involve your leaders in a high-energy environment surrounded by others who are in the trenches leading small groups. In addition, shared experiences like these will not only deepen the relationships between the members of the small group team, but everyone will all walk away from Community U energized, aligned, and ready for action!

Community U Conferences are coming to many locations near you - including the St. Louis area on August 20/21! This is your chance to not only hear some of the leading small group experts in North America, but to also connect with other Small Group Point People to share and compare strategies!
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Network Name Change!!!

This month we are excited to announce that we are changing our name - from the Purpose Driven Small Group Network to the Small Group Network.

As we met with leaders and exchanged emails with them, one of the things we heard was, "We would like to be a part of the Network, but we are not a 'Purpose-Driven' church." Our response was always - You don't have to be! Our desire is to help Small Group Point People connect with other leaders so that they can develop healthy and balanced small groups. THAT is our purpose. We are not seeking to create Saddleback clones, but help Small Group Point People to create healthy small group ministries. How each church accomplishes that goal will be specific to that church and and culture. So, we believe the name change to the Small Group Network will clear up any misunderstanding and open the doors for even more churches to join us.
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by Rick Warren

Rick Warren New 2010God wants you to live a life of freedom. Not a legalistic life, not a burdened and depressed life, but a life of freedom. Free from repressed guilt. Free from suppressed memories, hurtful memories and resentments, free from oppressive fear. God says I want to set you free. Your past is forgiven, you have a purpose for living, you have a home in heaven.

What is the purpose of that freedom? It's not just do whatever you want to do. God has a plan and a purpose for your life. As a leader, you have even greater responsibility to use that freedom wisely.
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How to add Small Groups to your Sunday School Church 
by Steve Gladen

Steve Gladen NewWhether you are transitioning away from Sunday School, or merely adding small groups to supplement your Sunday School system, be prepared for resistance. Most people are resistant to change, and in the case of Sunday School and small groups, that resistance can be very strong. Unfortunately, in recent years the two systems have been pitted against each other and church members often feel compelled to "defend" the current system while fighting against the introduction of the new system.

As in the case of any change, communication is the key. Use every avenue of communication, and use them often. If you are adding small groups with the intention of keeping Sunday School, be sure to let your people know small groups are just another option for spiritual health. If you are transitioning away from Sunday School, do so slowly.
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by Steve Gladen250 Big Ideas (Steve's Tips)

Are your small groups facing a summer slump? Some groups stop meeting in the summer. Some continue meeting, but have sporadic attendance due to summer vacations and planned family events. Why not encourage your groups to continue balancing the biblical purposes during the summer in some non-traditional ways that can be done outside of meeting time?

Fellowship - Summer is a great time to start a "Guys' night/Girls' night". Suggest that your groups do a Guys' night/ Girls' night. Once each month or two, the guys go out to dinner and the girls go out to dinner - at different restaurants. If children are in the picture, guys and gals could go out on different nights, and whoever doesn't dine out will hang with the kids.


By Lance WittStressed Man

I was forty seven years old and, for the first time in twenty five years, I was not a pastor in a local church.  I was in uncharted territory.  The local church was not just a place where my wife and I did ministry, it was a place where we did life.  More than I realized, my identity had become wrapped around the position of "pastor".  I had just resigned my role as an Executive Pastor and Teaching Pastor at Saddleback Church.  Stepping down from my position at Saddleback was by far the hardest ministry decision I had ever made.  There are a lot of opportunities and perks that come with being in a place like Saddleback.  It had been an amazing ride, but it became clear that it was time for me to step aside.

Small Group Studies Bookshelf

Looking for a small group study? We feature new material every month.

Books, websites, and videos of interest to those directing small group ministries.
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Questions, comments, or suggestions?
Contact Editor - Cheryl Shireman, Small Group Network Coordinator at cheryls@saddleback.com