Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Playlist

In just a few hours, Ryan, Bob, Juliet, and I will get in a car and drive 10 hours to Nashville, Tennessee. Actually, it will be more like 12 because Bob insists we have to stop for frivolous activities like eating, using the restroom, and seeing Rock City. One of the those is a joke.

Last night, Ryan and I engaged in the annual ritual of creating the playlist. 145 songs. 10 hours of music. Here are the guidelines:
  • Must be upbeat. We are in the car, after all.
  • Must be singable.
  • Must be known by at least half of the car participants.
Topping the list with most songs this year is Elvis Presley- with five songs. We are going to Tennessee, after all. A close second is Simon and Garfunkel with four songs. Next would be Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Dwight Yoakam and Glee???? with three each. (Glee?! How did that happen?!)

We leaned heavily in the direction of 80s music for the trip this year. Sprinkled in are some showtunes, a couple Disney songs, a little worship, and some classic songs from that odd little genre known as Contemporary Christian. It's gonna be epic.

Those Who Lead Up

I am blessed to be surrounded by lots of leaders in my life. Those who lead down (mentors and disciple-makers), those who lead across (leaders in the trenches with me), and those who lead up (those who I technically lead but influence me equally).

Today, I want to give some shout outs to those who lead up.

Of the three different kinds, these leaders are my favorites. Technically follow me-- either because they are paid to do so or volunteer to do so-- but that's not why they are my favorites. They are my favorites because of the unique ways they find to lead me and how often I find myself following them. I love them because I admire their courage, their humility, their confidence, and their insatiable desire to grow.

Some of my favorites are Will, Maegan, and Josh. My beloved "Team D." These poor souls are paid to follow me but certainly are not paid enough to do so. And for that matter, as a Protege, Josh isn't paid at all. They lead up. They influence decisions, change my mind, challenge me personally, and initiate new things that I would have never dreamed up. They are changing the way community happens at NCC because they are willing to influence the one who leads them.

We've got some great volunteers at NCC who also lead up. People like former zone leaders Nathan Gonzales and Sarah Owen whose opinions I trust when we contemplate new directions. Guys like Jonathan Shradar who I could always trust to shoot straight about ideas. Leaders like Dennis Bourne and Brandon Brown who jump into all kinds of crazy projects and roles and offer the kind of advice and counsel that I need to hear.

Some of the teenage girls I hang out with also lead up. Michelle and Summer do not hesitate to boomerang my probing questions right back at me. I can't encourage them to do something without being willing to be held accountable to the same thing myself. They challenge me to try new things, to look with new perspective, and to grow.

Here are some things I have observed about those who lead up effectively.
  • They follow well. Great leadership-- no matter which direction you are leading-- always begins with following well.
  • They are not "yes" men. They shoot straight in a humble yet confident manner.
  • They are solution oriented. They don't offer criticism unless they are willing to be part of the solution. And they offer solutions.
  • They have a team mindset. They aren't looking out for number one. They are committed to being one-- unified as a team.
  • They find creative and genuine ways to let their leader know they are "for" them. They've cultivated a soft skill of affirmation that is not patronizing or self-serving.
  • They offer their opinion but are willing to fully embrace and personally commit to the final decision.
  • They aggressively seek out responsibilities that they are not required to take.
  • They look for excuses to be with their leader outside the context of their job requirements because they realize those environments are great times to influence.
  • They send their leaders gift cards to Zaytinya, tickets to Nats games, and game cards for Dave and Busters.
I'm kidding about one of those...but I won't tell you which one...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Those Who Lead Across

I am blessed to be surrounded by lots of leaders in my life. Those who lead down (mentors and disciple-makers), those who lead across (leaders in the trenches with me), and those who lead up (those who I technically lead but influence me equally).

Today, I want to give some shout outs to those who lead across.

I love the way Joel Schmidgall leads the campus pastor (CP) team at National Community Church. The way he leads, trains, encourages, and invests in those guys has been an inspiration to me and has given me some very practical ideas about how I can lead over in Team D World. He leads cross-departmentally at NCC. I don't report to him; but I love to follow him.

I'm grateful for guys like Alan Danielson, Ben Reed, and Spence Shelton who are doing similar work as me in other places-- creating discipleship opportunities and cultivating community. I appreciate the ability to share stories from the trenches and explore best practices and dream of new ways of doing discipleship together. We aren't even in the same city, but I'm grateful for the influence they have on my life.

I think about people like Ruthie, Christy, and Leslie-- some girls I affectionately refer to as the Hungry Mothers. They have served as friends, accountability buddies, and life editors for the past 10 years. We don't have similar vocations, but they lead me. My love for Sabbath can be traced back to their challenge to find a new pace for my life. My ability to get my first book out was tied to their constant emails to check on status.

I think about Kate Schmidgall, who is in an entirely different profession than I am. But she asks questions that shake and shape my philosophy of leadership, creativity, spiritual formation, and personal growth.

I've observed a few things about those who lead across effectively:
  • They recognize the value of cross-pollination, so they engage in it themselves.
  • They prioritize time in their very busy schedules to make sure leading-across relationships and environments can be cultivated.
  • They posture themselves as learners.
  • They look for best practices in lots of different places.
  • They are aggressive encouragers.
  • They celebrate the wins and extol the gifts of their peers.
  • They realize they are a part of something much bigger than themselves-- they recognize that their success is tied in part to their investment in someone else's success.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Those Who Lead Down

I am blessed to be surrounded by lots of leaders in my life. Those who lead down (mentors and disciple-makers), those who lead across (leaders in the trenches with me), and those who lead up (those who I technically lead but influence me equally).

Today, I want to give some shout outs to those who lead down.

Mike Mathews has been a family friend for longer than I've been a part of the family. His vocation is pastor, and I count him as one of the strongest pastors in my life even though I've only heard him give two sermons (and one was the homily at my wedding). It all started on the backyard football field-- when all-time quarterback Mike would set me up in the end zone for a touchdown. The intoxicating thrill blinded me to the realization that he did that for all the kids. All I knew was that Mike believed in me and was willing to create environments for me to win. That built trust that turned into a relationship that I have turned to over and over again for advice, direction, and counsel. About jobs, calling, gifts, pretty much anything that I would consider to be a major life decision.

I think about Russ Robinson who throws out gold mines of wisdom about leadership every time I am around him. I think about Bill Donahue who helps me think strategically about systems and structures. I think about Dave Buehring who urges me to lead in out of a proper understanding of the ways of God. I think about Mindy Caliguire who reminds me that laughing is as important a spiritual discipline as silence and solitude-- and that we need both. I think about Mark Batterson, who saw potential in me, took some risks, and gave me opportunities to explore gifts I didn't realize I had.

With the exception of Mark, none of these people have any official "leadership position" over me. I follow them because I am impressed by their relationship with Christ, their character, their gifts, and their priorities. I follow them by choice not by paycheck. And I would follow Mark regardless of whether he was my pastor and boss or not.

I'm noticing that leaders who lead down well do the following:
  • They make time and space for young leaders.
  • They care more about the success of others than their own.
  • They create "wins" for those they lead.
  • They shoot straight-- both with praise and criticism.
  • They have cultivated the soft skill of communicating that they believe in those they lead.
  • They take the initiative to reach out to and be available to young leaders.
  • They never stop learning. And seek to learn from those they lead.
I could go on and on. These are just a few ways that they are influencing me and I seek to emulate them as I influence others.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Leaders in My Life

I just got back from a crazy busy week. Spent 3 days in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore praying, dreaming, and scheming with my fellow teammates at National Community Church. Then, I rose early on Thursday morning with Team D to head for the Right Now Conference in Dallas. There, I got to hang out with some of the brightest minds in small group world and learn from some of the most passionate people in the Church. On Saturday, I hung out at the NCC Unplugged Conference back in DC.

It was a week in which I was surrounded by leaders worth following. Some of them lead down. They are my mentors and disciplers. The people who have been around the block more times than me that have wisdom and experience that I need to learn from. Some of them lead across. We are doing similar jobs in similar places. We are in the same foxhole. We can encourage one another and learn from one another on the go. Some them lead up. They are the people that I am technically supposed to be leading but I often stop and wonder who is actually leading whom.

I'll be blogging about these people over the next few days. Those who lead down, who lead across, and lead up in my life. We all need leaders like that.

Friday, November 12, 2010


"Jesus practiced spiritual disciplines."

Jesus. God Incarnate. Practiced spiritual disciplines. It seems so simple and obvious yet so challenging. That one statement could launch a deep and engaging discussion in any small group. Convergence is a new DVD-driven small group curriculum hosted by author and communicator Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years). I recently watched one of the sessions with author, thinker, and all-around awesome person Lauren Winner (Girl Meets God) on the topic of spiritual disciplines.

In a very conversational style, Miller probes into Lauren's Jewish heritage and how those p
ractices have informed her practice of Christianity and given shape and deeper meaning to her relationship with Christ. Sabbath, daily prayer, and fasting are three of the disciplines targeted. For some of us, spiritual disciplines come naturally. For others, we find that we need to practice spiritual disciplines within the context of community. This particular Convergence series is perfect for that. Because Sabbath keeping has become such an important spiritual discipline for me, I was particularly excited to see it addressed in the curriculum.

Some of the individual questions raised include:
  • What is a spiritual practice?
  • Why should Christians do spiritual practices?
  • Can spiritual practices bring me closer to God?
  • How do I start practicing them in my daily life?
Here are some reasons why I love the Convergence series:
  • Price. It's only $14.99.
  • Low Risk. You can download individual segments for only $3.99 if you want to test drive the product.
  • Resources. You can download discussion guides for free here. I found both the participant's guide and the leader's guide to be very helpful.
  • Engaging. It's not the standard talking head version of video-based small group curriculum that we have grown to hate. Rather, it's a conversation. Kinda like having Donald Miller and his guests right in our living room participating in our own group.
  • Length. The videos are only about 15-20 minutes long, which leaves lots of margin for discussion and reflection within your group. And you get a total of about 3-4 weeks of content. Long enough to explore the topic. Short enough to keep attentions.
  • Easy to Use. There is no homework for participants and little preparation for leaders. You just pop the video in; let the conversation enlighten you, excite you, frustrate you, confuse you, or teach you; and then discuss with your group.
While each video is only 15-20 minutes long, there is a lot of information packed in there! You may find that you need to stop the video at strategic moments to unpack the principles and then restart the video.
Here's the last thing I'm going to say, and it's probably the most important. Definitely the most exciting. The first 25 readers to type in my last name at checkout get one free download. Go to and choose the video you want and at checkout type in Zempel to get the download for free.

Also. Check out the next blogger who will be reviewing the product, my good friend Ben Reed. You should read his blog regardless. He is brilliant.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Prayer Wake

I'm intrigued by Psalm 72:20,
"The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended."

At first glance, it seems like one of those throw away verses. Like the one that says "And Jesus went to Galilee." But it struck me pretty hard this morning.

When my prayers have ended, what will be recorded? What will I leave in my prayer wake?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Methodology of Mythology

Go ahead. Send the emails now. I recognize from the outset the danger of using the term "mythology" in this post because most of us equate the word "myth" with "a story that is not true." In the proper understanding of the word, however, a myth is a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form. It is a story that gives meaning, perspective, and understanding to spiritual truths.

I'm finding more and more that mythology can often be a more powerful tool than methodology. Five years ago, when people asked me about our vision and goals for Ebenezers Coffeehouse, I would talk about evangelism and theology and how the coffeehouse model fit into our ecclesiology. Now, I just talk about the guy who came into the coffeehouse to get a drink, went downstairs to investigate the splashing noises he heard, witnessed his first ever baptism service, got plugged into NCC, and then found himself getting dunked at the next opportunity.

Five years ago, when people asked about our free market small group philosophy, I gave long detailed theological proofs for why that particular model fit our discipleship goals and cultural demographics. Today, I just share about how Mary Evans and Dennis Bourne gave kids free art classes that resulted in a benefit performance that raised money for an entire community...and brought families into our church.

One of the most important roles of the small group pastor is to be a keeper of the myths.

Don't get me wrong, the theology and the methodology are important. They are the foundation. But the mythology fuels the passions. The myth brings color and texture and context to the method. Don't underestimate the power of the myth. It may be the most important method you employ.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Excitement Variable

Team D-- the NCC Discipleship Team-- is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I want to point out that no one will be as excited about your group as you are.

In general, no one will be as excited about your group as you are. It's just a simple leadership principle. You carry the weight of the burden, the thrill of the vision, the task of implementation. No one was as excited about Goliath as David. No one was as excited about the wall around Jerusalem as Nehemiah. No one was as excited about the church in Philippi as Paul. A leader will be more excited than anyone else on the team. They must be more excited. But that carries a burden of its own.

I think this ties in with the idea that sometimes leadership is lonely. I love to lead in teams, but sometimes there are places that only I can go. Think about Jesus going into the garden to pray. Or Elijah hiding out in the cave. Or Moses going before Pharaoh. There are some seasons and situations where leadership is lonely.

When I become aware of my loneliness...and when I realize that I'm way more excited than anyone else...these are some things I try to keep in mind.
  • Embrace the Territory. This is what leadership is all about. Having the guts and the insanity to jump out ahead and take people where they haven't been before. Leaders have to be a little crazier than everyone else. It comes with the territory.
  • Gut Check. I check my vision, my heart, and my methods. Sometimes, when I get leadership loneliness or start thinking that I'm the only one who really cares, I run the risk of getting martyr syndrome. Each of us is wired differently, so we all respond to that in different ways. For me, I tend to get more domineering, self-assured, and unilaterally decisive. Sometimes, those are attitudes a leader must employ. But I've got to check whether I'm leading from humility or leading out of self-defense.
  • Remember your Motivation. It's not ultimately about what people think. And it's not about you. It's about God and bringing him glory and honor.
  • Remove the Plank. When we sense that those we lead aren't as excited as they could or should be about wherever we are taking them, it's easy for me to be quick to judge. That's when I have to stop and remove that rather large log poking out of my eye.
  • Serve Another Vision. I think one of the best ways to train to be a great leader is to faithfully serve the vision of another. We can't expect people to get excited about our vision until we have gotten excited about the vision of another. Sometimes, I have to step out of my narrow world and find someone who I can support, serve, and be excited about.
No one will be as excited about your group as you are. And if they are, it's time for them to start leading. In the meantime, use your excitement to lead well, encourage often, and stir your group to love and good works.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Community is Messy, Part 3: Spit

Team D-- the NCC Discipleship Team-- is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the idea that community is messy. It requires our blood, sweat, and spit. Today, I'll focus on the spit part.

Community is messy because people are messy. Jesus was willing to get down into the mess of life. He touched lepers, he befriended despised people, he hung out with notorious sinners. A few years ago, it struck me that many of Jesus’ miracles of healing were not primarily about the physical change, but the social change. Jesus was really restoring people to community. When he healed the lepers, he sent them back to the priest…Why?...because the priest was the only person with the authority to pronounce them clean and restore them to society. He healed the outcasts so they could have relationship again.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus entering into the mess is found in John 9- Jesus and the disciples encounter a man who was born blind, and the disciples ask why he was born blind- because of his sins or the sins of his family. Fingers are pointed. Assumptions are made. People avoid the mess by spiritualizing the situation. Jesus responds that the reason is neither; rather, the man was born blind in order to display the glory of God.
John 9:6-7
Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and smoothed the mud over the blind man's eyes. He told him, "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam" (Siloam means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing!
This story is full of amazing theological depth and richness. About why Jesus chose to heal in his way. About the way that God displays his glory. About the 1st century Jewish understanding of sin and its physical repercussions. About the connection between healing and praise.

But I'm not that deep. Here is what amazes me and grips me about this story: How many times did Jesus have to spit in that dry, dusty, 1st century Palestinian dirt to make that mud?

Jesus Christ, the son of God, is bent over the ground spitting and spitting into the dry, dusty ground of 1st century Palestine to make enough mud to cover this man’s eyes.

It’s a picture of a person who is willing to enter into the mess for the sake of community. The glory of God on display when the Son of God spits in the ground to restore sight. To restore a man to community.

We’ve got to bleed community. We’ve got to be willing to sweat for it. And we’ve got to be willing to get messy. The Community of God is built by our blood, sweat, and spit.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Community is Messy, Part 2: Sweat

Team D-- the NCC Discipleship Team-- is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the idea that community is messy. It requires our blood, sweat, and spit. Today, I'll focus on the sweat part.

One of my absolute favorite stories about the sweat of community is found in the Gospel of Mark:
Mark 2:1-5
Several days later Jesus returned to Capernaum, and the news of his arrival spread quickly through the town. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there wasn't room for one more person, not even outside the door. And he preached the word to them. Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn't get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
Imagine this story with me for just a moment, because I fear we read over this and miss the comedy and the adventure. These guys are insane. I can only come up with one dignified word for them: tenacious. People are heavy. Who knows how far they had to carry this guy? Did any of them consider leaving him behind? They could have gotten to the house early, maybe gotten a good seat. Instead, they carried their friend to see Jesus. When they arrived at the house, they couldn’t get in. Now, I would have just said, “well, the guy has got to stop preaching at some point. Let's just wait here until he's done. Then he'll come out of the house and heal our buddy.” That’s what rational people do.

But people who understand the community of God are not rational. They embrace the crazy idea that when two or more are gathered God is truly there and the supernatural can happen. They dare to believe that a little sweat on their part can make stuff happen in the spiritual realm.

So they took their friend to the roof. There they go being tenacious again. As if walking with this guy wasn’t enough, they climbed up on the roof, dragging him behind. Then, they dug through the rooftop a hole big enough to lower this guy. What in the world? Did you catch that? They put a hole in a stranger's roof. And I'm not talking about a little hole just big enough to be slightly annoying during a rainstorm. I'm talking about the kind of hole that results in real structural damage. A hole big enough to lower a grown man through. How long did it take them to do that? Where was the owner of the house? Did anyone try to stop them? Did Jesus keep teaching or did he pause until they finished their work?

They lowered the man on his mat at the feet of Jesus. What was Jesus thinking?

Scripture says (italics mine) “They lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

This guy’s life was transformed because of the faith of his friends.

We keep reading and see there is some discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees over the nature of forgiveness, and Jesus says,

“Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 'Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!' The man jumped up, took the mat, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers. Then they all praised God. 'We've never seen anything like this before!' they exclaimed."

This is amazing. This guy walked away with new faith and new legs because of the commitment of 4 friends. Their extreme commitment to bringing their friend into an environment to meet Jesus resulted in extreme healing.

Who is being transformed because of your faith and the faith of your friends?

There is something about community that draws people into a relationship with Jesus. One man on his own could not have brought this man to Jesus. Two men could not have brought this man to Jesus. It took a community, a brotherhood, a small group.

I am so thankful for the people who have carried my mat. I think about people like Alan Alvarez—who literally moved my husband and his bed when minor surgery turned out to be more major than we had hoped and Ryan’s after care required more than I could carry on my own.

I think about being like Ruth Sessions who was willing to endure a late night meal at the Waffle House to talk, to remember, to laugh, on the night before Christmas as my Granddaddy lay in hospice care in the last hours of his life.

I think about February of this year, as Ryan and I spent an entire week hopping from city to city trying to dodge and outrun winter storms to get from Oregon back to DC. From Oregon to San Francisco to Denver to Chicago…people opened their homes to us as we lived day by day out of our suitcases.

I am thankful for the people I have met in my small groups. Who have not just become friends but people who have carried my mat. People who sweated for me when I couldn’t go as far as I needed off the sweat of my own brow. People who sweat to propel me forward in my faith.

Whose sweat propels you?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Community is Messy, Part 1: Blood

Team D-- the NCC Discipleship Team-- is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the idea that community is messy. It requires our blood, sweat, and spit. Today, I'll focus on the blood part.

There are about 50 commands in Scripture that we cannot obey outside the context of community—love one another, serve one another, honor one another, forgive one another, encourage one another, confess to one another, etc.

Sometimes people talk about community like it’s some kinda lovey-dovey thing. Like it’s all touchy-feely. Like it’s one of the softer skills of Christ-centered living. Maybe it’s just me, but I think community is hard. Maybe I’m just a hard person to have community with…but my perspective is that it’s not easy. Community is messy. And discipleship is hard.

If we want to live in community, we have to commit to community. We have to commit to the point that we bleed community.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture ever is found in one of Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth. Listen to this. He said,
“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. (HZ editorial comment: here is where Paul starts to sound a bit like Dr. Seuss) I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”

Paul basically says, "If all of this flogging and shipwrecking and imprisonment and danger wasn’t enough…I’ve got you church people to deal with!"

He was committed to the community of God to the point of death. He was bleeding it.

The sacrament of communion, which recognizes our union with God and the community we experience as the people of God, includes the cup-- the sign of the new covenant in Christ's blood. Communion is about remembering sacrifice and celebrating the community we have with God through the blood of Christ.

Jesus bled for community.

A Christian prisoner in Cuba was asked to sign a statement containing charges against fellow Christians that would lead to their arrest. He said, “The chain keeps me from signing this.” The officer protested, “But you are not in chains!” “I am,” said the Christian. “I am bound by the chain of witnesses who throughout the centuries gave their lives for Jesus Christ. I am a link in this chain. I will not break it.”

Are we willing to bleed community?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Small Group of One (or Two)

Team D-- the NCC Discipleship Team-- is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about what to do when no one shows up.

My first small group leader experience started during my junior year at Louisiana State University. I was so excited! I had actually first mentioned I would be interested in leading a group way back in second semester of my freshman year, so I was thrilled that I had finally been "tapped," trained, approved, and unleashed to start. My co-leader, a graduate student from Kenya named "Daniel," and I prepared with great excitement and gathered with great anticipation on that first Friday night. The great anticipation began to wane when the clock struck 7 and no one had shown. Five minutes, ten minutes. Daniel and I talked, prayed, and looked forward to the next week.

The following week...similar story. Two weeks turned into three. We found ourselves watching The Muppet Show on Friday nights while instead of leading the vibrant, exciting group that we had looked forward to.

No one ever told me that folks might not show up on the first night of group meetings. Or the first two months of group meetings. What do you do when you lead a small group of one?

I'm glad that's part of my story. Because I hope it's encouraging to others who find themselves in similar situations. Here are 10 things I encourage leaders to consider when they find themselves home along on Week #3 of their small group:
  1. Use it as an opportunity to pray, journal, and prepare. If you have a co-leader, recognize that it might be a great time to invest in one another.
  2. Enjoy all those snacks you prepared-- pretty soon, you will have to share them with other people. (you think I am kidding...)
  3. Make sure that you are actively inviting people to your group.
  4. Seek counsel from a pastor or coach to see if maybe you need to switch topics or nights. Sometimes, our best idea isn't the right idea for a certain season. Or sometimes, we just need to make a simple shift in the schedule.
  5. Incorporate worship time and sing at the top of your lungs. No one will be there to hear you.
  6. Utilize the time to pray for people that you would like to invite to the group.
  7. Use the time to call, text, facebook message encouragement to other leaders, to people you are praying for, or to people you would like to see in the group.
  8. Get out of the house and do a prayerwalk or find a creative way to serve someone in the neighborhood.
  9. Watch the Muppet Show (it worked for us)
  10. Most importantly, do not give up! Discipleship is the most important thing we can do. Hang in there. God will eventually bring people to your group...and you will be more thankful for them than you would have been otherwise.
People did begin to show up. And some of them were weird. Some of them made Daniel and I long for the days of our small group of two. But we became a community. Messy community. But definitely a community. Where character was built and disciples were made and potential was unleashed. Hang in there. It's worth it.

And whatever you do, don't grow too accustomed to your smallest group. You don't want to end up like this guy: