Archive for the ‘Christian Small Group’ Category

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A Portrait of David:What Happens When a Man Doesn’t Go To Battle

February 7, 2012

The account of David’s sin with Bathsheba is often used to teach about temptation, especially sexual temptation.  I will agree this is a great story for us to use, but often, there is a great lesson to be learned in the from the text proceeding the story.

1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.  2 Samuel 11

Interesting isn’t it?  The author made it a point to state that David “tarried still at Jerusalem.”  Traditionally, in David’s time, kings would go to any battles in the Spring with their armies.  In previous chapters, you will see David leading his army into battle.  Why this time did he stay home?  No one knows the answer to that question, we just know the outcome.   I believe there is a good lesson for men to learn from David’s epic fail, and essentially, the epic fail of most of us who call ourselves Christians.

The very minute we decide to get off the battlefield and tarry around or hang back is the very second we open ourselves up for temptation.  Although we do not do physical battle, we do have battles we fight as outlined in Ephesians 6.  We have continue to immerse ourselves in the Word of God daily and if we don’t, it is the same as us staying off the battlefield.  We open ourselves to potential attacks, the sneakiest of kinds.

As noted by many references, David was simply strolling on the roof, not really looking for trouble.  The fact is, if he had been at battle where he should have been, that glance would not have turned into a question which turned into a meeting which turned into sin and destruction.

Here are some quick items to walk away with:

  • If you’re not in God’s Word daily, change that!
  • If you are not meeting with an accountability partner or group, get into one
  • Get into a church family that will nourish your walk and help keep you focused on Christ
  • Stay in the battle.  If you feel yourself getting off the battlefield, let a fellow Christian know

Hope this helps you in your walk.  In our next post, we will talk about the difference between the predator and the prey.
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Man Alone-The Need for Accountability Groups Part II

January 19, 2012

In the previous post, Man Alone-The Need for Accountability Groups, we talked about the gradual decline of “pack mentality” of Christian men today.  Again, it is critical Christian men do not continue to go at it alone thinking that is their only option.

In this post we are going to look at some critical characteristics of a christian men’s accountability group.

Trait 1: Confidentiality

This is one of the most critical aspects of the group’s character.  If you do not have a group of men who respect confidentiality, you will never move past having the traditional, superficial groups where men continue to wear their masks.  It is crucial to a group’s survival and essence that men are able to take off the masks and be open, honest, and real with the other men in the group.  Some of the burdens we carry can be not only overwhelming but embarrassing.  In the early church, members would openly confess their sin and ask for not only prayers, but accountability.  With this in mind, look back at what happened to the early church: EXPLOSION.  Bearing your soul to other men allows you not only to release the burden, but also allows you to ask for accountability.  You cannot have this without true adherence to confidentiality.

Trait #2:- Confirmation

When one of the members of any sort of group shares something from their soul, they need confirmation.  I don’t care how uncomfortable or awkward it is, the worst that could happen for this individual is to hear crickets in the audience.  You don’t have to be able relate or empathize with him, simply confirm he said something for starters.  I have been part of groups where I have shared something to the welcoming sound of crickets in the room and I can tell you, it took me a while before I shared anything else.  This scar not only affected the group I was in, but other groups I participated in going forward.  This does not spark growth.  Confirmation of someone taking the leap to throw themselves out there is key for continued growth within the accountability group.

Trait #3- Consistency

If you decide to join one of the accountability groups in your church or area, be sure it is one which meets consistently and frequently.  Remember, the lion goes after the ones not close to the herd.  As a pack, we have to stick closely to our fellow warriors and can only do this if the group we are involved in meets consistently.  Sure, there will be times around holidays when meeting can be almost impossible, but don’t forget most everyone has a phone or email.  Sending a text message of encouragement can be all someone needs to get through the mini battle they are facing at the moment.  In addition to consistent meetings, there should always be consistent conversations/encouragement/relationship among the members.

Trait #4 – Code Words

Let’s face it, no one would feel comfortable with their accountability partner coming up to them and in the midst of the conversation ask, “So how’s your struggle with pornography going this week?”  Um yeah, just thinking about that kind of a situation sends most men into shut down mode.  One group I was a part of had the brilliant idea to come up with code words that only we knew.  One of the members in my group had the code word peeps.  So I’d occasionally text him and ask, “How’s the peeps doing?”  We’d have conversations among a group of people using our commonly used code words and be able to check each other on accountability, without anyone else knowing what was truly going on.  One guy’s wife asked him why everyone always asked him about his peeps?  Of course the guy shrugged it off, and we all got a good laugh about it.  Let’s face it, we’re all still five year old boys at heart and who doesn’t relish the idea of using code words as a spy?

Trait#5- Covenant

In biblical times, to go into covenant, or contract, with someone was pretty serious.  Unfortunately, in today’s realm, a lot of that has been diminished.   I would encourage you to talk to your group and devise a brief contract or covenant that everyone signs embracing the traits above.  This way, everyone is bound and everyone knows the rules of the group.  This is the one trait that is optional.

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas on what to look for in a group, or if you’re in a group, how to take it to the next level.  I encourage you to find a group of guys, open up, pray together and always, always, take care of the peeps in the group!
In the next post, we talk about what you should expect out of an accountability group.
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Man Alone- The Need for Accountability Groups

January 17, 2012

Have you ever felt this way?  As a man, it seems we have become geared to be severed from others.  Even if we are involved in sports, business groups, etc, we still seem to feel alone in the world.  We are graded constantly by everyone on our job performance, performance as a father and husband, our income, ability to provide, likability, you name it.  It never ends does it?  There is an epidemic across the world of men, Christian men, feeling isolated, unable to connect with anyone and simply accepting it.  This is not how God made us to be.

Thinking back to our image of the Christian Warrior, 300 style, there is a difference in the mentality of men.  Those in the 300 were close on many levels.  Why was that?  Their life depended on it.

In previous posts like “The Traits of the Christian Warrior“, “Christian Sword Series” and others, we talked about the lessons we could learn from the Spartan 300.  They were a fighting unit like no other.  One of their most notable traits was their strategy of never fighting alone.  Each Spartan would guard the back of their partner and the other would do the same.  What happened to this?  Look how successful the Spartans were and how long their legacy lived on.  What legacy are we leaving?  If we don’t change anything, we’re telling our sons to expect to be alone and to just learn to deal with it.  Yeah, not so much.

Jesus had disciples and when he ascended into heaven, these disciples began traveling together spreading the Gospel.  Paul spent most of his Christian life in relationship with other Christian men, living life on life.  The books to Timothy show Paul’s dedications to not being alone.  In one of his letters toward the end of his life, he asks Timothy to bring his favorite cloak.  You cannot tell me he and Timothy were not close, thus, he helped to set the stage for what Christian men need to get back to today.

So what is an accountability group?  Simply stated, it is a group of Christian men who get together to not only go through a bible study, but more importantly, take some time living life on life.  Questions like, how’s the job going?  What is going on in your marriage?  How is your struggle with _____?  These are the most important aspect of any Christian men’s group.  I believe too many times, leaders of such groups spend more time on bible study than they do actually discipling.  This is an art, an art we could look to Jesus to help us understand.

When going through the Gospels, we see Jesus actively seeking out disciples which was unheard of in his time as a rabbi, which is what many saw him as.  Once they were in the fold, Jesus spent a lot of time with these guys living.  They traveled together, ate together, went through trials together, and also ministered together.  It was this life on life, daily discipling curriculum Christ used to prepare his disciples to go on in his absence.  Along with the Holy Spirit, these men were able to continue doing what Christ had done with them with other men.  We have got to get back to this model.

In the next post, we talk about what you should expect out of an accountability group.

What to look for in an accountability group. 
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Best New Book for Men

January 12, 2012

I just completed reading this book and have to say it is one of the best books on Christian Men and Men’s Ministry.  I read it in about five hours because I could not put it down!

This book is written by the same author of Man in the Mirror (http://www.maninthemirror.org) and builds upon 7 Primal Principles of the man’s soul.  They are as follows:

1. To believe, really belive, that God knows, loves, and cares about me personally.

2. To believe my life has a divine purpose.

3. To break free from the destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down.

4. To satisfy my soul’s thirst for transcendence, awe, and communion with Christ.

5. To love and be loved without reservation.

6. To make a contribution and leave a legacy.

7. To feel and know I am not in this alone.

As one who feels particular called to the discipleship of men, this book was awesome and extremely relevant.  It isn’t one of those self-help books, but more of an eye-opening manual on how to become more “alive” as a Christian Man.  He addresses the tendency of men to lose heart, go silent, and anesthetize their pain through seclusion.  Many of us know how often men make the decision to follow Christ, but are then left to the wolf because no one disciples them.  If you think about it, discipleship was the first thing on the mind of Christ when He rose.  What did he do first?  Go after his disciples and reinforce the Gospel.  We should do the same.

Here are some scary stats on Christian Men shared in the book:

  • 80% are so emotionally impaired they’re unable to express or even identify their feelings
  • 55% of marriages experience financial dishonesty, mostly by the husband
  • 50% of men who attend church still seek out pornography
  • 40% get divorced affecting over 1 million children a year

I was on the floor when I saw these.  No wonder we have such a void in the church today of Christian Men, real Christian Men.  If you’re in ministry or in a men’s group or simply feel called by Christ to start something, I would highly encourage you to read this book!  Great read and very applicable.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Book Review: Crazy Love

April 21, 2010

If you are looking for a book to sink your teeth into, Crazy Love would definitely be one for you to consider picking up.

Francis takes his readers through an in-depth, sometimes uncomfortable, look at the relationship we have with God.  This is not another one of those Christian self-help books, rather, one that leaves the reader asking more questions about their relationship with Christ.

Personally, before reading the book, I felt pretty good about where I stood in my faith walk.  By chapter 4, my world had been shaken and I found myself convicted I was not “all in” as I thought I was.  What changed?

  • I realized I was serving my “leftovers” to God in my prayer life, relationship, and intimacy
  • My anxiety is really seen as arrogance and pride to God
  • The things I thought were “good things to do” for my faith had replaced the intimate relationship Christ wants from me.
  • A prayer as I drift off to sleep should not be the only time I speak with my Savior.  I should be in constant conversation with Him and include Him in every aspect of my life.

These are only a couple of the revelations I had while going through this book with my discipleship group.  In fact, I have reread this book twice now and each time, I have taken a deeper look at what my relationship with Christ requires.

If you should decide to read Crazy Love, I would only offer this advice, “Wear your helmet.”  Granted, there are chapters that will hurt your feelings, but all in all, I am more convicted now to seek intimacy with Christ and not just go through the motions.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses. This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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300 Men can make a difference Part II

January 14, 2009

300 Men can make a difference Part II

Believe it or not, there are a lot of similarities of the Spartan soldiers in the movie 300 and the plight of today’s Christian Leaders.  After watching the movie, I spent the next couple of days reading and researching more on these 300 men who willingly took the “Road Less Traveled.”  What was their motivation?  Why did that seem like the only option?  Why does their story remind me so much of the Christian journey?

300-movie-wb19

One of the most notable aspects of the Spartans was their fighting style. Since birth, the Spartan culture raised its young men to be warriors. In fact, beginning at age 7, they entered their training, a training curriculum that would make today’s Navy Seals or other elite military training programs pale in comparison. Day and night, they were taught to survive, fight, and win. With no more than a mere cloth around their waist, they were to endure the heat of the day and the cold of the night.

In their training, Spartans were taught to fight on their own, but the true strength of this army was in their ability to fight as a group. Shoulder to shoulder, the Spartans would use their shields collectively to form a fierce outer shell and would push forward, using their shields for protection and then their spears or swords to execute the decisive blows that crushed enemies. It is said that Xerses could not understand just how this group of Spartans was able to obliterate a major portion of their elite fighting force. It seemed like every force that was thrown against this group of 300 men were slaughtered against all reasoning.

Another interesting note about the fighting style and training of your average Spartan soldier was their emphasis on team fighting. From some historical accounts, you hear of the Spartans fighting shoulder to shoulder and back to back. One defended the other as well as themselves, it was a team effort to fight and defend. What could we as Christians learn from this?

As Christians, we should surround each other and, as the Spartan soldiers, fight and defend each other. One of the key strengths the Spartan armies had was their unity and we have to be able to find that in our daily walk. We have come under the enemy in thinking that our faith is something “private” to us and not worthy or interest of others. In other cases, we know if we share our faith with others, we will be held to more accountability. Regardless of the reason, part of the “rebellion” plan needs to be to partner with other Christians in the battle against “the current”.

One great way to do this is by joining a small group within your church or forming one yourself. If you are a father, join a group with other Christian dads who are in the same battle as you. This is one battlefield that needs more soldiers who are willing to dig their heels in and fight against the enemy. Personally, I have two or three Christian dads that I group with who are able to understand the trials and battles I endure daily not only as someone in the business world, but as a Christian father. When the enemy begins to attack, I know that they will cover me with prayer and support me in any other way I may need it. They also hold me accountable in daily things, especially my “training” routine.

Have you been offering time for daily devotion? Have you spent quality time with your wife? Have you spent quality time with your children? Is work becoming your idol? These are all questions that one of these men will ask me and I will ask of them. It’s strengthening my resolve as a rebel against the “current” of today’s fatherhood.

So what is it about today’s “current” view of fatherhood that needs so much resistance and rebellion? If you were to watch any prime time TV show, you’d see a major difference in how the men of the family are portrayed versus what Scripture has outlined our behaviors to be. According to Ephesians 5, we are to do the following for our wives:

Ø Love our wives as Christ loves the church” –

o That means we are not to lust silently or with our eyes for any other woman. We are to uphold them in the home, love them and respect them. Just as Christ would protect the church, we are to protect our wives not only physically, but spiritually. All too often, as Christian men, we do not claim victory in our homes against the enemy forces. We have to bond our efforts with Christ as our general and join the other Christian fathers in our community and rise up against the enemy. We are to present her clean and without blemish to Christ and to do so through the Word. Rebels, our greatest weapon often sits on our nightstand or end table with dust on it. The Word is our sword, it’s time we all pick it up and begin using it.

So what is the “rebellion” against? What is the “current” we are fighting as Christian men in today’s battle? We are to be Christian men and warriors, not cowards. Our society, through so many channels of the media as well as so many poor decisions made by men in our generation, has cast the father out as unimportant. We have let society warp our role and diminish our authority in the home. This is where our “rebellion” is to take place.

As a partner to other Christian men, I am strengthened by the resolve of my vocation as a Christian father as well as the men I stand shoulder to shoulder with. When I need prayer for help or wisdom in the battlefield I am in, my Christian partners help by raising their shield in my defense and fighting on my behalf while I strengthen through prayer and devotion. The same is true for when one of my Christian partners is in need. My call is to defend them in prayer and supplication, protect them with the shield until they are strengthened enough to fight their battle.

The enemy has brought the war to our camp and enslaved many of our men today. It is time we take the “rebellion” to his camp. How? We are to infiltrate our offices, our little league teams, our homes, and anywhere else we find ourselves spending time. We are to stand for Christian values and intimately discern what we are to do in all situations. When the enemy begins pushing against our families with his various weapons, we are to dust off that sword that is the Word and wage war back against him, defending our wives and our children against the lies and treachery the enemy brings.

It is time for us to take back the ground that we have lost over the last century. It is time for us to start acting like a Christian warrior who has undergone spiritual training comparable to the training received by the Spartan warriors. It’s time for a rebellion.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Small Groups-The Heart of the Church

November 13, 2008

Recently, I have been in a number of discussions involving Small Groups in our church as well as how they’ve worked out in other churches. Through some prayer and thought, there was a model that struck me as a perfect analogy.  Consider for a moment the chart below depicting the human circulatory system.

conmapf2

I am one who considers all things God made to be intentional and with purpose.  Considering the amount of focus and attention He paid to His new creation, Adam, I can’t help but to think this design was a map for other creations He had in mind.  Consider this equation or formula:

circluatory

So, that would mean the following could be true:church-is

small-group-1

Take a moment to consider that the heart, the center of the circulatory system, is nothing without the simple red blood cell.  Go back to your elementary learning days and remember that it takes a lot of cells to make a muscle, and a lot of muscles to make an organ and etc.  Well, the heart is the muscle, comprised of millions of red blood cells-the building blocks if you will.  Sidebar: Just those statements make it hard for me to understand how anyone can underestimate or reason out a truly divine and heavenly God.  I digress.

Let’s just assume or speculate for a second that God, in His providential wisdom, designed the human body as He wanted to see the church (His body) designed.  After all, are we not made in the image and likeness of God?  So with this in mind, if the church is the “heart” of the circulating of the Gospel as commissioned in Christ’s Great Commission, should we not look at what should actually comprise the church?  You guessed it!  The Christian Small Group!

So, starting from the fundamental, cellular level of the church, let’s look at the small group.  What is part of it?  What goes into it?  We will get into the schematics of the small groups in this new series.  For all of you who have some experience in small groups (good and bad) please vote on the poll below.  I invite your comments.

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About the Writer:

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Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.