Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Calling in the A-Team!

Contributed by:
Eric Dunaway
small groups pastor

Wouldn't it be cool if we had a place every weekend where people could talk to people about getting connected in a journey group? What would make it even cooler is if group seekers were able to actually talk face to face with other people who are already experiencing life together in their journey groups. I mean, who better to share about what journey groups are like than those who are actually in one and experiencing it? Take that a step further, and imagine, if you would, a world where someone who was interested in finding a group could leave a weekend service, walk up to a kiosk, and access GroupFinder right there to begin the process of getting connected.

Well, you don't need to imagine too hard, because the Connection Kiosk is here.

You may have noticed over the past several weeks that journey groups now have a kiosk display in the atrium. Over the next several weeks, you'll begin to see several changes that will transform that kiosk into a place where group seekers can gather more information on groups, access GroupFinder to begin the process of finding a group, and where leaders can pick up their resources.

We're designing the graphics, and getting the necessary components together to make that happen. Now what we need is a team of people to staff it!

We're in the process of developing a team of groups who will serve together to staff the Connection Kiosk. We're calling this team the Assimilation Team, or... the A-Team. It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it. Reminds me of one of my favorite TV shows growing up.

We want groups to join the A-Team because we believe that your experience in a journey group will make you the perfect person to help others start the process of finding a group. And besides, serving together as a group is already one of the ten habits of a journey group. What better way for your group to serve together than by pointing other people to community in a journey group.

Serving as part of the A-Team is a very simple way to get involved. Read below for an official team description that provides more details.
Team Description:
Pathway Community Church exists to intentionally influence people to seek a genuine and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Our strategy for developing genuine and growing followers of Jesus Christ is to see each person at PCC end up in a journey group. We've determined that because we believe it is the best environment for sustaining spiritual transformation through authentic relationships. In order for people to realize the power of community, however, we have to work at providing points of connection that are simple and effective.

The Assimilation Team, or A-Team, is a compilation of groups working together to staff our Connection Kiosk each weekend. The goal is to have enough groups serving that one group would only have one service per month*. This is an ongoing commitment by the group, and they will be scheduled accordingly. The primary role of this team is to provide a friendly, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic introduction to the connection process to those who are interested in joining a journey group, and are looking for more information.

As a part of this team, you’ll have the opportunity to share your journey group experiences with group seekers, and help them understand what they can hope to expect in their own journey group. You will also be able to point them to the next step in the connection process. The Connection Kiosk should be a place that is buzzing with excitement about getting people connected, and the A-Team will play a huge part in that. 

1.    Have at least 3-4 individuals from your group present when scheduled to serve.
2.    Arrive at the kiosk 15 minutes before the service scheduled, and stay until 15 minutes after the service scheduled.
3.    Wear the custom designed A-Team T-Shirt, along with your I.D. lanyard, when serving at the Connection Kiosk.
4.    Call team leader ahead of time if you will be unable to serve your shift. Find a replacement, if possible.
5.    Attend the one-time A-Team Orientation prior to serving. This orientation will cover the connection process, how to get someone started, what you should share with group seekers, and what you shouldn’t share with group seekers. It will also cover a crash-course in using GroupFinder, as there will be a computer at the kiosk where group seekers can actually log in to complete their profile or register for GroupLaunch.

1.    That you’re part of an active group at PCC.
2.    You and your group have a passion for seeing others experience the benefits of community you enjoy together.

Time Commitment:
Less that 2 hours per month*

*Based on the number of groups who actually commit to serving on this team. If fewer groups commit, then the number of services per month will increase, and so will the time commitment.

Did you catch the part where it mentions a cool custom designed t-shirt? Not only is this a fun way to serve and help others get connected, but it's also a fashion statement. Seriously... what more could you want? (T-shirts may not come in until second quarter - disclaimer)

If you think your group would be interested in joining the A-Team, let me know. You can email me here at We'll be planning an orientation for the team kick-off for sometime in February. Join my group and others who are already a part of the A-Team, and we'll get to work pointing the way to authentic community in journey groups. It's going to be fun!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Firm Affirmation

Contributed by:
Eric Dunaway
small groups pastor

One of the most impactfull experiences I've had in my journey as a Christ follower was when a friend and mentor offered a few words of affirmation. They came after a period of time where I had been through probably the darkest year of my life. I had lost my job, we were struggling financially, I had been running from the Lord, and all this was taking a toll on our marriage. For several months I had been opening up to my mentor, sharing my struggles, my fears, and my hurts. And after some time, healing began to take place, and I began to feel that God was calling me into full time vocational ministry. Of course, I immediately began to wrestle with a sense of inadequacy. After all, I had, as I said, been running from the Lord... my relationship with him had been distant, at best, for the better part of three years. And at times, I felt like an 18 year follower of Christ who was still just a spiritual infant. In spite of that, I wanted to at least share this with my mentor, and get his take on it. I still remember the conversation - it was only almost seven years ago.

I told him that I was beginning to feel called back into ministry, but on a full time basis. He asked me what I thought that would look like, and for the first time I knew what it would look like. Youth ministry, I told him. And here's what I expected him to say: That's great, Eric. Now, let's take a look at where you're at spiritually. You've got a lot of work to do to get ready for that calling. Let's take the next year to pray about this, prepare for it, and so on. I'm excited for you... I believe you can do it... but you're just not ready for it yet. 

That's what I expected him to say. But that's not what he said. What he said was, Eric, I wish I had the budget to hire a full time youth pastor... I'd hire you right now. 

Even now, almost seven years later, those words bring such encouragement to me. They were words of affirmation. They were words that said, I believe in you. You can do it. I know where you've been, but I've seen how far you've come. God is at work in you. Keep it up, and follow his lead. 

One of the great things about community is that it provides an environment where affirmation can take place. In fact, one of the things that we've included in the ten habits of journey groups is affirming one another. As groups pursue life together, they have the opportunity to impact the lives of those within the group through words of affirmation. This is one of the reasons why community is so powerful and life-changing. My life was deeply impacted by words of affirmation. Think of how your words of affirmation might impact those in your group.

God has placed gifts and abilities into each one of us. He's working on each of us in different ways. He's nudging each of us in the direction of his will and purpose for our lives. Sometimes all we need is the gentle nudge from a close friend who can speak loving truth into our lives. Sometimes an encouraging word of affirmation is all that's needed to move someone into action. Maybe your words - spoken into the lives of those in your group - will be just what they needed to hear, when they needed to hear it, and will change the course of their lives forever.

Group Facilitators: you have a unique opportunity as you lead your group. You have the opportunity to watch those in your group as they grow and mature in their relationship with Christ. You have the opportunity to observe the gifts and abilities that God has placed within each of them. And you have the privilege to be that voice of affirmation. When you see a gift in someone, acknowledge it. Celebrate it. You may have a future journey group facilitator in your group. Or a future KidCity story teller, or worship team musician, or greeter in your group. You may have a future pastor or missionary in your group, and all they need to hear is someone acknowledge those gifts for them to accept that they're there.

The point is this: affirming one another really can change someone's life. You're voice of encouragement really can have a dramatic impact on those around you. Allow God to use your journey group to be a place where affirmation breaths new life into each one of you.

Take a minute to reflect on a time when someone's words of affirmation impacted you. If you want to, take a moment to share that in a comment on this blog (see the link below).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Connection Story: January 8th

Contributed by:
Eric Dunaway
small groups pastor

Last night at GroupLaunch, we had a neat thing happen. I watched it from a distance, and several of my team members were talking about it later. It's the kind of thing that when you see it happening, it makes all the hours of preparation and hard work seem worth-while.

I had spoken with a Young Woman on the phone prior to GroupLaunch and listened as she explained that she was heading into a divorce, and had two small children, and really felt that she need a journey group. I told her that I thought GL would be an excellent way for her to connect. But I also informed her that there was the slight possibility that she may not find exactly what she was looking for. Singles groups continue to be a challenge to form at GL. But I encouraged her to come anyway, as we'd have a Connection Coordinator on hand to work with her in the event that she didn't connect.

As guests were signing in last night, I noticed her name tag and immediately put her face with her name. And then I watched another guest (we'll call her the Friendly Woman) run up and give her a hug - obviously, there was a pre-existing connection there, and it struck me as something that I really haven't seen at GL before. The Friendly Woman, however, was there to form a married group with slightly older children - a different stage of life than the Young Woman.

We continued through the program and reached the point where we begin to identify which types of groups will be forming at specific tables. As we surveyed the breakdown of groups represented, it became apparent to the Young Woman that she would, in fact, not be joining a group that night. Unfortunately, there just weren't any other women in her stage of life with whom to connect. She approached me and I talked to her about a few alternatives, but finally directed her to the table where our Connection Coordinator was sitting.

This is when it happened. The other tables were busy going through the steps of forming their groups. One of the groups, which appeared to be a group of married couples with slightly older children, was forming near the Connection Coordinator's table. This group included the Friendly Woman, who noticed the Young Woman without a group.

At that point, the Friendly Woman walked over to the Connection Coordinator's table, bent down, and began to invite the Young Woman over to join their group. The Young Woman kind of hesitated - she wasn't sure she was a good fit for that group - but the Friendly Woman insisted. And the Young Woman eventually conceded. The group welcomed her and expressed their approval of her joining their group. The Young Woman mentioned that she just wasn't sure she was right for the group, as she was going through a divorce. Immediately, a different couple in that group mentioned that they had "been there, done that." They were both on their second marriages. They told the Young Woman she needed to be in their group.

The Young Woman thanked them, and I'm pretty sure she had tears in her eyes.

Instead of leaving last night with the hope of eventually finding a group, she left in a group that had immediately accepted her and welcomed her with open arms. In addition, it was a group of old friends and new friends who will be there for her through some very difficult days ahead. That's what journey groups are all about.

Any time a group forms at GroupLaunch that appears to have solid connections and the prospects of continuing on, we see that as a win. What we saw with this group last night, however, was extra special, and I just wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Unqualified Leadership?

Contributed by:
Eric Dunaway
small groups pastor

Lately, the Journey Group Leadership Team has been talking a lot about the leadership of our groups. How do we want leaders to emerge? What type of person should we encourage to step up and facilitate their group? How can we avoid putting the wrong person in that role? And once they're in that role, how do we resource, train, and equip them?

These are tough questions. In theory, it should be easy. You just write up a job description, promote the opportunity, and follow three easy steps to developing leaders, right? Then why is it maybe one of the toughest challenges I've faced in ministry? To simplify the answer, it's because the right people don't always step up, and the wrong people sometimes do... and that's if they step up at all.

At Pathway, we've identified journey groups as the environment in which we want people to end up. We've determined that because we believe it is the best environment for sustaining spiritual transformation through authentic relationships. But you can ask anyone who's had any involvement with small groups on any level, and they will tell you the same thing: groups are only as effective as their leaders.

We're in the process of redefining the group leader's role in journey groups. We're revisiting how we will raise up leaders, the process of putting them in place, and then how we will equip and enrich them as they serve. We're taking a very hard look at each of these things because we believe in the power of journey groups, and we believe that solid leadership is critical for that life-changing power to be realized.

I came across this article on recently, and I wanted to share it with you. When you get a chance, take a look at it. It's an excellent look at what we really need in order to be good group leaders. I hope it will encourage you and inspire you as you lead, or participate in, your own journey group. The link to the article is provided below.