Why I don’t Prefer the Name “Small Group Leader”

I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers or title this blog post something that will get a click. I am thankful for all of our readers, and I hope every topic encourages and equips you, then you share it with someone because it was helpful. So, let me clarify that I’m writing this because I genuinely don’t like the name, "small group leader." I understand that there are logistics and many different types of volunteers and titles bring organizational clarity but the main reason I don’t prefer the title is because titles communicate identity.

Simply.

Whenever a church or organization asks me to speak or train, I always ask for some time with their “small group leaders and any women or girls mentoring others.” I love teaching them simple, reproducible ways to make disciples in their homes, small groups, jobs, and neighborhoods. My favorite way to end out time together is to commission them with the following,

“Yes, to know which emails you are sent or which folders you pick up you are a ‘small group leader’ but today I’m changing your title. You are a disciple maker. Jesus has called you and every Christian to disciple others. The good news for you is you don’t have to search for your disciples. You have girls assigned to you this year! If you have ten eighth grade girls you are not simply their small group leader. Your title is disciple maker.”

Y'all. The questions that follow have been amazing! Many women feel like their purpose has been reduced to passing along curriculum or making sure the students have a place for community before “big church.” Many women express joy hearing that they could make a disciple. Also, the relief from staff that they don’t carry that burden alone is usually voiced too!

Think about it! I heard a mom say once that she was “just a mom” when asked what she did. How would her view of God change if she saw herself as useful in the kingdom? How would her view of her kids change if she realized they were her disciples? How would her view of herself change when she realizes she is a disciple maker?

The same applies for every job. You are not simply an event planner. You are a disciple maker who leverages your creativity and job for God’s glory. You are not just a teacher. You are a disciple maker who can use your ability to tell stories for God’s glory.

No matter your job, hobby, life season, or area you volunteer in we are all called and commanded to be a disciple who makes disciples! - Amy

Parking Spots

Growing up I often took little shopping trips with my grandmother, whom I fondly called Neenie. Her two favorite local spots were Piggly Wiggly and Belk. The woman loved Belk more than anyone I’ve ever known. But what I remember every time she chauffeured me around in her Lincoln was the way she would verbally thank the Lord for the parking spot she landed.

Now I know what you are thinking, why on earth would she pray about a parking spot? I thought that too for such a long time. But recently, I have found myself offering up a little word of thanks when I safely pull into a parking spot. I don’t know if Neenie was consciously thinking, “I am going to teach Becca to be thankful for even the small things when we go on errands together.” But whether she was thinking about it or not, her actions seeped into my life. Neenie passed along her habit of thanksgiving to me. I mirror her response to that life situation all of the time. She created in me a conscious acknowledgment of the goodness of God in something as small as having a place to park.

So often it seems we turn thanksgiving into something that must reach some certain level in order for it to be worthy of our mentioning it to God. I know in my own life many of the small, simple things (at least that’s how they are categorized in my mind) come and go without my ever even thinking of offering a word of thanks to the Lord. Our God is not one who requires a certain merit or status of an event or experience that we can speak with him about. He prefers to hear all of it. Even the tiniest things are worthy of acknowledging God’s presence in them with a quick moment of thanksgiving.

One of the things that strikes me most about these memories is that she said it aloud every time. It is totally possible for us to be thankful in our hearts and to share that with the Lord. Additionally, when we voice things aloud in the presence of other people we set ourselves in a position for the Lord to use us to impact someone else. Because Neenie made her thankfulness known to the Lord and invited me to be part of it by hearing her, I naturally do the same now. Even if I am by myself, I will thank the Lord verbally.

Your actions and habits of thankfulness not only breed greater love, affection for, and thanksgiving to God, but they might be building a foundation of thanksgiving in the life of someone around you. Our actions can be so contagious. In this season of thanksgiving, take notice of the small, simple things. Thank the Lord for those! Thank aloud when you are with others. Allow your habits of thanksgiving to seep into the lives of those around you. - Becca

 

Inviting Jesus into my inner Monologue

“Be careful how you think; no one is in your head more than you are.” I heard this in college and it is TRUTH! We are thinking all day every day,

"Is this shirt too tight?

"Oh, she’s here. Play it cool, she can’t know your feelings are hurt."  

"What do I want for lunch later?"

"Did I reply to that email?"

"Is this shirt too big?"

We take in info, process it, judge it, enjoy it, dismiss it, etc. Our  inner monologue might be funny or harmful or helpful, but it is never silent.

There has never been anything in my life so out of my control as parenting. Some parents realize this when their kids are different ages. Some of us realize it during our pregnancies. When I was about 8 weeks pregnant with Eva, I started showing every sign of miscarriage. I wept. “Please God not again. This happened last year. We literally sold or gave away almost everything we have and are moving to NYC next week. Please no.”

I am not sure I left my bed much for 2 days, nauseated, sleeping, crying and reading Psalms. My doctor told me to come in. I did and everything was fine. I felt the weight and reality of not being able to do more to make sure everything would be ok. I couldn’t study and read more in my pregnancy books. I could continue to eat correctly and avoid even the sight of deli meat and caffeine, but mostly I had to pray, depend on, and trust Jesus. Seeing is easy. Trusting takes practice and effort.

Fast forward 7 months, we were in New York City doing Bible studies at Columbia and NYU. I was HUGE, which was surprising because I walked several miles every day. One of my favorite Japanese students was performing at Carnegie Hall and gave me 2 tickets. I took a friend and hopped on the Subway (Kyle, my hubby was in a Bible study). We began to cross the street and a large truck ran a red light and hit my friend and I knocking us down in the street.

Immediately a man grabbed my arms and helped me up. In pure NYC fashion he began yelling at the guy, “you could've killed someone. Get out of the car!” It spooked the man and he sped off. As you could imagine, I was stunned. My legs were banged up and bloody and my friend and I could just stand there in shock for a few minutes. 

 “Should I call an ambulance??”

“No, my hospital I’m delivering in is about 5 blocks away. Let’s just start walking and I’ll call Kyle on the walk.”

I walked up to the front desk, sobbing at this point. “A car hit me. I take Lamaze here. I’m scared.”

They put me in a wheelchair and whisked me upstairs. Kyle arrived shortly after and we watched the fetal monitor for 8 hours while no one could tell me if our daughter would be ok. “Please calm down ma’am. When your heart rate lowers we can give more answers.” I was 35 weeks pregnant and hysterical.

Every Scripture I had ever memorized flooded my mind. Fear was also flooding my heart. Both were equally strong. Often I would just lean my head back and ask Kyle just to pray for me. It was a terrifying and holy moment as I knew God was hearing every real thought and my inner monologue. They sent us home saying, “If you have abdominal cramping immediately come back. We can’t tell you anything definite about the baby.”

There are no words to describe that cab ride home.

My legs healed. After a week I could walk without severe pain. Less than three weeks later I gave birth to the most beautiful little girl ever.

My heart also healed. The fear and sorrow went away. I made the habit of praying for my kids daily when we started trying to get pregnant. Now with the reality of this being SO out of my control I began praying several times a day. I also just talked to the Lord. I know prayer is talking to the Lord, but hear me out!

As I was walking down the street I wouldn’t just inner monolog.

“I can’t believe that happened. Oh, a crosswalk. I can’t. What if someone runs a red light again? I am putting Uber on my phone. I need a bagel.”

Those thoughts TURNED INTO

“Lord, I know you were there with me. I can’t believe that happened. Oh, a crosswalk. I can’t. You’re here with me. I live here. You have to help me figure this out. I have to walk. Calm me. I breathe in peace and breathe out fear. Can you start putting on Kyle’s heart to find money in the budget for Uber? I am like 37 weeks pregnant.”

Jesus already knows my thoughts. I choose to invite him into the conversation in my head. So many times I view prayer has to happen in a quiet place free of distractions with my eyes closed. Simply changing, “I can’t believe that happened” to “Lord, I can’t believe that happened” changes a flippant thought to a moment I invite my God to walk with me. Prayer is crying out to God in the big things and also just acknowledging His presence continually in our hearts and minds- eyes open or closed, in a devotional time or in traffic. I want abiding in Christ to be as habitual, natural, and supernatural at the same time. I pray that this post inspires me to persevere in this and all of us to do the same. - Amy

We would rather talk about THERE{4}Gathering than Halloween!

There is a billboard that I go out of my way to pass several times a week. Seriously, I will drive 10 minutes out of my way to not pass by this gross zombie looking Halloween billboard. Plaid, pumpkins and fall -- YES! Zombies and tissue paper ghosts hanging in trees. -- YUCK!

So, I would rather talk about THERE{4}Gathering than Halloween!

My dear friend Sarah called me a few months ago and said, “You have to meet this lady, Tiffany!” Not too long after we were all lunch-ing and sharing stories. She was right. I am very glad I met Tiffany and I’m very happy to introduce her to you!

In 2012, Tiffany Daniels attended a national teen conference with her daughter, and the mutual experience had a significant impact on both of their lives. She left the conference committing to bring her daughter and friends back every year. However, she was disappointed to learn that the conference would be discontinued. For several years, Tiffany searched for something similar but found nothing. The Lord continued to press on her heart a yearning for this type of transformative encounter for teen girls. At IF:Gathering 2015, God made it clear to her that she needed to stop looking for other options and, instead, step out in faith to launch a teen conference herself. Through her step of faith, and the support of a great board, THERE{4} Teen Gathering was formed, became a nonprofit organization in 2015 and launched their first teen conference in February 2016.

At The Perch we want to not only teach, but we want to train others so that they can be confident and equipped for every good work. Teaching says, “You should make disciples.” Training says, “Here are some tools and practices for making disciples.” Teaching includes why and training includes how.

I shared with Tiffany that I would love to help train the adults who are at the conference in simple discipleship ideas and methods so that women (leaders and moms) are equipped to continue or begin discipling the girls after the event. We both want women of all ages to know how to water a seed in friendship and discipleship that is planted over the weekend. SO, I’m thrilled to share that I will be leading a breakout session at the THERE{4}Gathering! I hope you will join me as I’ll be leading a training time for women to learn how to mentor and disciple!!

They have early bird pricing through, today, October 31st. You can sign up here!