The Michael Jeffrey Story

“My small group is a safe place to ask my questions and I can honestly say it’s changed my life!”

Here is the full story of Michael Jeffrey’s small group experience.

Check out more information on small groups at clearcreek.org/smallgroups.

The Sidman Story

Ross and Alana Sidman have been small group Navigators at Clear Creek for years, living on mission, and inviting others to church all while walking their dog.

The Abby Steele Story

Small group is a place you can come as you are, without fear of judgment, and be met with authenticity and acceptance.

Here is the story of Abby Steele’s small group experience.

Check out more information on small groups at clearcreek.org/smallgroups.

The Josh Yahoudy Story (Full)

Being in community in small group is where we believe that you will experience the greatest spiritual growth. It’s in small group that we are able to ask our questions, be vulnerable and honest with each other, care for each other, and encourage each other as we pursue God together.

Here is the full story of Josh Yahoudy’s small group experience.

Check out more information on small groups at clearcreek.org/smallgroups

 

4 Ways to Host on a Budget

What does it mean to be hospitable?

I think for many people the idea of being hospitable means we must be able to craft a beautiful meal and have a picture-perfect home that could be featured on HGTV.

When that’s our standard it’s easy to see why so many people are hesitant to open their homes and host people.

The truth is, hospitality has very little to do with the food or the state of your home. There are no set rules for what this is supposed to look like. We’re simply called to love the people in front of us with what God has given us, be it little or much.

So, what if it’s little?

I know many of us truly desire to serve people in our homes but are working with tight budgets that can make the whole idea feel stressful.

If that’s you don’t worry! There are inexpensive and practical ways to welcome people into your home without breaking your budget.

Here are four budget-friendly ideas that can easily aid you as a host:

1. Make a Plan

Being hospitable isn’t something that happens automatically, it’s something you must choose to be intentional about. I’m not a natural planner, but I’ve come to learn that if I don’t plan to spend intentional time with friends and neighbors, it will never happen. Our schedule will fill up or we will be “too tired,” when the time comes.

A few years ago, my husband and I sat down and made a list of the people we hoped to share a meal with that year. We looked at our calendar to see what nights of the week we routinely had available and committed to keep those nights open, dedicating one night a week to inviting someone to share a meal with us. Planning ahead helped us create regular rhythms of hospitality in our home, and also helped in budgeting time and resources accordingly. 

2. Allow Others to Contribute

One of the first things people tend to ask when someone has invited them to their home is “what can I bring?” Often we respond with “Nothing! Just bring yourself!”

That may seem like the most hospitable way to respond, but, by not allowing others to contribute, you are putting more of the burden on yourself while also denying your guests an opportunity to serve you. Simply let guests, who offer, bring something you know they can easily go grab at the store. If you are planning to have a larger group of people over, share the cost by planning a meal in which everyone can easily contribute. Make a list of all the things people can bring to complete the meal.

Remember, the whole point of the meal is not just eating, but creating an opportunity to spend time with people you love. When you allow others to contribute, not only will it cost you less, but it will save you time, and everyone sharing the meal will be blessed.

3. Be Prepared for the Unexpected

While many opportunities to be hospitable are centered around a planned meal, there can be times that demand spontaneity. You could get a phone call from a friend who just needs to come over and talk, or a neighbor may stop by for a quick chat. Maybe it’s a hot day and you notice your mail carrier would benefit from a cold bottle of water, or perhaps your house is the hub for all the neighbor kids, which means they will probably eat all your food too. It’s good to be prepared for little moments like these with small things on hand to offer.

It could be as simple as keeping your fridge stocked with bottles of water, having extra coffee on hand, or stashing break and bake cookie dough in the freezer just in case.

I also always include one meal I know will feed more than just my family of five. The weeks we don’t end up having people over we get good leftovers. But if we do host, we know there is a meal in the refrigerator ready to share. It’s a win-win all around!

4. Be Yourself

Our lives and homes don’t have to be in perfect order to invite others in. If you wait until everything is just right, you will likely wait forever.

When people see that you have unfinished dishes and dirty laundry in your house and you ordered take out instead of cooking, they aren’t going to judge you, and they aren’t going to wish they hadn’t come over.

Instead, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing you are a real person, just like them. In fact, when you’re truly yourself and let people into your life (your REAL life), it dissipates a lot of pressure and allows for genuine community to flourish.

Being a good host does not mean you need to pay someone to clean your house within an inch of perfection or that you should spend a week’s grocery budget on fine wine and a lavish meal.

When you let go of what the world (and Pinterest) tells you your home should look like and just be who you are — who God created you to be — then your table will begin to look more and more like Jesus’ table which was never so much about the table, but rather who sat around it.

 

So, here’s the moral of the story: you can do this!

And I hope you will!

In the end, few people will remember the quality of that cup of coffee or how perfectly put together your house was. What they won’t forget is the way you opened your doors, welcomed them into your home, and nourished their souls.


 

111: Hospitality — A Conversation with Dave & Carla Vanderweide

As Christians, we are called to care for the poor and the widows, to love our enemies and our neighbors, and to serve one another with the love of Christ. One of the ways we do that is by inviting people in and making them feel welcome whether that’s through inviting them into our homes, sharing a meal around a table, or even inviting them to a rock concert. On this episode, Jon Coffey talks with East 96 Campus Elder Dave Vanderweide and his wife Carla about how they use their time, talent, and treasures for the kingdom of God, how that doesn’t look the same for everyone, and how God uses us in different ways in the different seasons of our lives.

Resources:

Table Talk: When Faith Meets Food — Week 2

 

 

110: Faith and Food

Food is an essential part of our lives. From sack lunches to wedding feasts, providing and sharing meals is a fundamental part of how we interact. How can we use meals to celebrate and worship God? How can we use food to love and serve others? On this episode, Rachel Chester talks with Ryan Lehtinen and Yancey Arrington about their most memorable meals, favorite foods, and how they have seen God use the table to his purposes throughout history and in their own lives.

Resources:

Table Talk: When Faith Meets Food

 

What Does Godly Friendship Look Like?

When we were kids, our friends were some of the most important people in our lives. As Christ-following adults, is that different? Should it be?

To learn more about Clear Creek Community Church, visit clearcreek.org

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The Gift of Being Known

In 15 years of membership at Clear Creek Community Church, I have been part of so many small groups I had to check with my husband and a friend to count them all up. When I look back at my experience with small group, I can recall so many good things: deep friendships, laughter and tears, friends that became family, and a slow sharpening of my walk with God.

Other important things have come from these years too, primarily having to do with growth in my love for the Bible and my understanding of God. And how I have needed and still need those!

But the absolute best part of small group for me has always been the gift of being known.

For some reason I am that person who will dive in deep during the first meetings and tell everyone my greatest, heart-wrenching prayer requests. I love to share the story of how God saved me and how he’s been working in me the past few decades. And I always want to know everyone else’s story, too. That part of small group where we all share our stories is my jam.

But I wasn’t always like this. I grew up quite shy. But, during my college years, I distinctly remember telling a not-so-close friend about some burdens of my past. We swapped stories for hours, and afterward I felt such a great release. Here was one more person in the world who really knew me, and that was freeing.

In her book The Life You Long For, singer-songwriter Christy Nockels writes, “I’ve found that you can’t live abundantly in your God-given capacity as the Beloved [of God] without first being in true community with others” (109). This is an amazing truth about our God: we see his love for us most vividly as we walk alongside others who love him.

There’s something special about a group of people with whom you know you share one singularly important commonality. You feel freer to speak God’s truth to one another. You feel more enabled to share your neighbor’s hurt. And you feel more at ease saying, “me too.”

In Philippians 2, Paul encourages the brothers and sisters of the faith to be of “one mind” and to “look not only to [their] own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Certainly there is an aspect of this that is meeting one another’s physical needs, but I believe this also means we should be interested in one another. We should be shouldering burdens and helping our siblings in Christ continue to follow him with perseverance.

Listen, small group is not a perfect community. Tensions happen. We’re all sinners, so you’ll likely be  hurt and hurt others as well. It’s possible you’re reading this right now thinking you’ve been hurt too much by other believers to ever truly be open in a small group.

I’ve found that you can’t live abundantly in your God-given capacity as the Beloved [of God] without first being in true community with others.

– Christy Nockels

From perceived slights to deep wounds, vulnerability can be difficult when we come to community hurting. But be encouraged that God can use this pain. He is the champion of using our human weaknesses to display his glory.

There is so much more beauty to be grasped when we allow ourselves to be known. Think for a moment on the wonderful truth that God shows himself to us in such a variety of ways, including through the love and acceptance of other people. I have found that when I open up to others, I open up to God much more readily. Community is the place where God primes the pump to show us more of his great love for us.

When I choose to share my burdens and pursue really knowing the people in my small group, I open up more avenues for God to speak to me. When I receive acceptance, guidance, and even correction from my brothers and sisters in Christ, I feel known. In turn, the reality of God’s acceptance of me in Christ rains down even more thunderously. The gift of being known by others turns into the gift of being known by God himself — a prize above all others.

As you set off to join a new small group this fall, or more deeply engage with the one you’re already part of, I encourage you to open up and be a bit more vulnerable with this family God has provided. Don’t miss the transformative power God offers us through community.


 

050: What Makes Biblical Community Unique?

Biblical Community is one of the core values of Clear Creek Community Church. On this episode, Ryan talks with Bruce Wesley and Karl Garcia about what “Biblical Community” means, how it became a core value, and how it influences every aspect of the church.

RESOURCES:

Side by Side by Ed Welch

Life Together Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Lost Art of Disciple Making by LeRoy Eims

Small Groups, Big Impact by Jim Egli and Dwight Marble

Transformational Groups by Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger