In spite of her gifts as a communicator and writer, Heather Zempel is truly humble. She admits her mistakes and paints a picture of stumbling through the maze of small group ministry and leadership, but her passion and heart are also very clear. She loves people and isn’t afraid of a little mess – and in some cases a lot of mess. She doesn’t try to prescribe any particular model for building community but rather draws on her experiences (sometimes very funny) to give the reader some helpful tools for gaining a better perspective on your particular situation.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“I decided a couple years ago to stop trying to strike a balance [in my life] and to pursue life in rhythm instead.”
“People can find legitimate community and be discipled outside our structures.”
“Most people come into groups looking for social space; we encourage leaders to aim for taking their groups [beyond that] to personal space; and we hope individuals will look for intimate space opportunities with a select few inside the group.”
“We need to ensure that our routines don’t become routine.”
This is the best book I’ve ever read on small group ministry! If you’re a part of a small group or want to be, you should read this book!
Heather is actually a family friend, (As a child, Miranda played football with her every Thanksgiving. Mike was the all-time quarterback.) but. . . . well, nevermind – I can’t deny that I’m biased to this book, but it’s still the best I’ve ever read on community groups.
SmallGroupTrader.com (sgt) has published another article that I wrote. It’s truly an honor to be able to write for them. They have a great vision for creating and providing resources for small group leaders and are really doing some innovative things. (Check out the free video training clips for small group leaders.) It’s taken many years of full-time ministry to become the leader that I am, and yet I can do a little research on their site and see all kinds of ways that I can improve. Some of the best names in the church world (particularly the small group world) are represented there and I feel blessed to be able to be a part.
This latest article is titled: “Practical Ways to Connect as a Group” I tried to give a little theory and a few specific ideas for building community in a small group setting. The original idea came from a sgt (small group trader) list of “needed” articles. The request was “How do I Help my group Gel?” The final edit was done by the sgt folks.
I’d also encourage you to check out a small group guru and Miranda’s lifelong family friend Heather Zempel while you’re there. She’s got some great articles on sgt, an incredible blog, and has even written a brand new small group resource called Sacred Roads which was published earlier this month.
Did you know that our emotions come out in our faces? Of course you did. Poker players bank on it – looking for the “tell” in the other players faces. Everyone looks into the eyes of the one they love when they’re being told “I love you.” Why? So you can determine the sincerity behind the words. According to the experts, we also make “micro expressions” which happen so quickly that the average onlooker doesn’t even pick up on it. Some expressions are made on purpose, but these “micro expressions” are involuntary. Everyone makes them and no one is very good at controlling them.
So what? Well, this means that if we could learn to watch for these micro expressions, we could better understand one another. Is this what Jesus did? Did Jesus just know how to pick up on things more than we do?
All this sort of reminds me of the TV show, “The Mentalist.” The guy isn’t some sort of psychic or anything, he just notices what others don’t notice and is able to put the story together in ways that no one else was able to think of.
Another thought. . .do you think a body of people (like a church) might make “micro expressions” without knowing it? I mean, we just went through a process with a mediator. His job was to tell us what we didn’t recognize about ourselves. Is that what he does? Look for our micro expressions? How can we build the kind of relationships with people that would allow us to recognize these micro expressions? If we did so, how would our lives be different?
Anyway, these were just some random thoughts today that came to me from reading “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell.
Anne Lamott is one of the best writers I think I’ve ever read – and funny too. Anyway, this morning I started listening to her audio book (she reads herself) called “Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.”
Anyway, I just thought I’d share a few quotes that struck me:
Peace is joy at rest. Joy is peace on it’s feet.
One of the top five most annoying things about God is that He rarely answers right away. It can take days or even weeks.Can you talk about God like this?
Maybe it was the ‘Ham of God.‘
She describes how seasonal showers fill up potholes in the rocks in the desert and frogs live in them. Then she says, “it seems you can go from parched to overflow in the blink of an eye.”
Here’s another quote from a talk she gave to a bunch of Pastors:
She explains that cat’s fur is highly flamable, but God has also placed an oil in their skin which puts the fire out. Then she says, “Cats ignite, but luckily there’s grace.”