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Starting the Year Right with Jesus
Because a school in Texas didn't have a functioning sprinkler system, 200 people perished when a fire burned down the buildings. The principal began to rebuild the school after the initial shock had passed. They called in a leading company in fire prevention equipment to install a sprinkler system. When the new school was opened for public inspection, the principal pointed out the new sprinklers in each room, to remove fears of another disaster. The school operated without a problem for a number of years, but then they needed to add on to the existing structure. As work progressed, they made a startling discovery. The new fire extinguishing equipment had never been connected to the water supply! They had the latest in technology and equipment, yet it was useless.
Jesus said, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them" (John 7: 37-38). Some leaders go through the motions and perform their religious duties but they're not connected to the source of living water Everything might appear to be in order, but there's no life, no abundance of living water.
In small group ministry, it's easy to depend on curriculum and not the Spirit of God. Endless study guides have been published and online video studies offer an instant solution. The understanding of many is that unless there is excellent content, the people won't return. The key is to find great material and then to make it work perfectly. But is it possible to have the best material without the water supply?
Chapter 7 in our upcoming book Groups that Thriveis entitled "Quit Studying So Much and Start Praying!" One of the surprises Jim Egli and I discovered is that spiritual preparation is far more important that lesson preparation. Fruitful leaders stay in tune with Jesus, hear his voice for their groups, and minister out of the abundance of living water.
I drink black tea almost every afternoon. After boiling the water, I leave the bags in the tea long enough to allow the tea to disperse into the hot water. If I take them out too quickly, the tea doesn't dissolve fully. If I only dip the tea into the hot water, I can barely taste the tea. A great cup of black tea is first thoroughly dissolved into the hot water.
Effective leaders follow a similar pattern. They don't just dip in and out of the Spirit's presence. Rather, they allow themselves to be fully immersed, so that the Spirit will permeate their entire beings. Then when they minister, they have an unseen sense of direction and power. God is working in them and the people know it.
If you're a pastor, commit yourself afresh to spending time with Jesus each day in 2018. He'll give you daily direction and wisdom to take the right steps. If you're a cell leader, remember that spiritual preparation is more important than lesson study for your group.
In January, we'll write twenty blogs on placing Jesus first in our lives. Experienced pastors and leaders will write on this theme. If you'd like to receive these blogs daily in your inbox, click here. We'll cover:
- January 07-13: Drinking in the living Water--how to start the year right and prioritize Jesus above sermon or lesson preparation. As I coach pastors and leaders, I often notice that the devotional time suffers in the busyness of ministry.
- January 14-20: False Cisterns. We'll write about areas we can become dependent on apart from Christ, such as good works, busyness, or ministry success. Jesus talk about how the church in Ephesus had left their first love (Revelation 2).
- January 21-27: Commitments. Thinking of new year's resolutions, we'll talk about committing ourselves afresh to spending quality time with Jesus
- January 28-February 03: Learning to hear his voice and following his lead.
Joel Comiskey and Jim Egli's 2018 book, Groups that Thrive: 7 Surprising Discoveries about Life-Giving Small Groups will be available in March 2018.
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2018 JCG Event in Reseda, California
We will have our annual JCG event in the Elim Reseda Church, on March 9-11, 2018 (notice the extended schedule). Mario Vega and Joel Comiskey will be ministering in Spanish and simultaneous English translation will be available. There will be additional speakers on Friday night and Saturday night.
2018 JCG Event in Falls Church, Virginia
- We will be holding our third JCG conference in Virgina/Washington D.C. area at the Elim Church Virginia area on September 01, 2018. You can register here.
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