House Kirks lie at the core of the life of our church. Whenever we gather in the name of Jesus, the love, grace and power of God flows — shaping our souls and healing our world. We all long to connect to life-changing communities where we can be transformed and empowered to serve Christ and His Kingdom.

Our vision is to catalyze and support the formation of community at Westkirk by encouraging our members to join a House Kirk and by helping our House Kirk leaders to establish and maintain safe, healthy, and spirit-filled groups.

When you join a House Kirk you will:

Do Life Together: House Kirks are a place to connect with others in our church family, to share your praises and concerns, and to let others know you.

Grow: Through studying, discussing and applying God’s Word, your House Kirk will help you to grow to be more like Jesus in your character. You will find your small group to be a place where you both give and receive encouragement to take steps of faith and obedience in response to how God is working in your life. House Kirks are one way that we strive to live up to the mission of our church, “To Know Christ and To Make Him Known.”

Worship & Pray: Surrendering who you are for God to use for His honor is the essence of worship. Your House Kirk will encourage one another to continually live with this mindset and to make yourselves available to God for Him to use you as He sees fit. Beyond this, some of the groups do have a praise and singing time or a time of prayer that focuses on praise and adoration of God.

Have Fun: As described in Acts 2:42-47, our House Kirks gather together for fellowship, the breaking of bread, with glad and sincere hearts. House Kirks are not just about studying the Bible, they are about doing life together and are intended to be places where members of our church family can gather and enjoy being in each other’s presence.

If you have questions about House Kirks or about Westkirk, I would like to encourage you to contact the church office at 515-253-0330 or email me at steven.randall@westkirk.org. Also, our House Kirk ministry brochure, which contains answers to several common questions about House Kirks, can be downloaded directly from the file sharing widget on this blog or can be picked up at the church office.

My prayer is that you will find a House Kirk in which you can experience “life together” with a few others and continue to grow in your journey to know Christ as your Savior and King.

In Christ,

Steve Randall, Assistant Pastor
Small Group Pastor
Westkirk Presbyterian Church

Connecting with others in a House Kirk is the primary means of growing as a disciple. However, in order for this to happen, we must be committed to building group LIFE. LIFE stands for:

L: Love your neighbors

I: Invite someone along

F: Find ways to serve together

E: Engage God and his Word

Let’s look at these one at a time. As we do, think about your current group or the last year of your group and see if these were a reality in how you lived life together. If one or more were missing, think about what it would look like to bring these into the heartbeat of your small group.


You will recall several passages of Scripture where Jesus commands his disciples and other followers to love one another, to love their enemies and to love their neighbors. We are called to be lovers…no ifs, ands, or buts. Being a loving community begins with those in our own group. There are many “one anothers” in Scripture and the majority of these have their root in loving one another. In fact in John 17, Jesus tells us that the world will know Him through how we love one another.

However, we are to love beyond our groups. Can you imagine your group being an agent of love to others in your neighborhood, workplace or to your friends in some tangible way? The sky is the limit of being a loving group. Do I need to ask what you think the response would be from the people who were the benefactors of our love? I can share from experience that they would not only be appreciative, but would find themselves drawn to the group, church or at least want to ask a few questions about why you would do such a thing. Great open doors!

The first aspect of group LIFE is loving our neighbors…those within AND outside our groups.


How did you get connected to your group? In most cases someone invited you. You love, I love, and people love being personally invited to something. It says, “I really like you and want you to be with me at ________.” I am asked to do many things, and so are you. But when I am personally invited, I stop and consider the invitation. Most of the time, when I am personally invited, I find a way to accept the invitation. Invitations are magnetic and powerful.

Over the next year as a church, we are going to hold as our highest goal that everyone connected at Christ Church would invite someone along. So the question stands, has your group been an inviting group? Think about the possibilities of the people in your group praying for others and extending personal invitations to join the journey of your group. While on one hand this could be exciting to think about, the reality is that is does change the dynamics of your group. The one thing I have found over the years is that people will often guard their community and fight to keep it the same because it meets a real need in their lives. Let me bring you in on a little secret. I was there too. It was only when I finally opened my groups up to the possibility of inviting people in did I realize that, yes, my group changed, but it was always for the better. You see, no group remains the same…even if you tell yourself it does. Groups are always changing and when we allow new life into our group with people we know and love, the group experience gets richer as God works and moves in each person connected.

One other thing I learned is that when someone is invited into a group that impacts their life, they are very likely to invite others from their network to experience the same thing. When these ripples begin, we will experience an amazing tidal wave of connection and movement of the Spirit in our congregation and neighborhoods.

The second aspect of group LIFE is inviting someone along to our group’s journey together.


Do you remember the powerful picture of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet, taking on the very nature of a servant? Do you remember what he tells his disciples? He tells them to become servants, just as he came to serve.

In our groups, we want to find ways to serve BOTH inside the church AND out in our communities. If you haven’t noticed, servanthood is sweeping through our country and virtually everyone (both Christian and non-Christian) loves to serve and make a difference. No wonder…it is at the heart of God. Imagine again the impact your group could have on Christ Church if your group volunteered to serve in some capacity every now and then. Imagine what it would mean to your neighborhood, community, workplaces, or friends if your group simply rolled up its sleeves and served in some way with no other motivation than to be the love of Christ in that moment. Blessings would abound!

Not only this, every time your group serves together, you build a memory and share an experience that enriches and deepens the relationships of your group. It is the natural byproduct. I often say that it is not the group meetings that deepen a group, but the experiences and connections they share outside the regular group meetings. Some of the greatest gifts you can give your group and others are finding ways to serve together.

The third aspect of group LIFE is finding ways to serve together on a regular basis.


As we began this article by speaking of our Life-Change Principles, we see engaging God and His Word coming full circle and tying into the principle of life-change happens where God’s truth meets our lives. Not every group is the same when it comes to their format, focus and time they spend studying Scripture, but in every group we must hold high the value that we are focused on and guided by Christ and his word. Without engaging God and his Word, we are a social club. Without engaging one another, we are an academic class. Our motivation and driving force in all of our communities must be engaging God and his word. So we will ask that all our groups find ways to engage Scripture in some way and make sure we engage God through prayer appropriately, no matter what kind of group of which we are speaking. I have never seen God bless anything for the Kingdom where he was not the center and focus of it all. To thrive as a group you must engage God.

The fourth aspect of group LIFE is engaging God and his Word as a central focus of our life together.

There you have it, Group LIFE. In the months to come, we will have opportunities to talk and bring these values into your group. As we check in, we will use LIFE as a means to discuss how our groups are doing. As we press ahead, we will share stories and find creative ways to live LIFE in our groups. I am very excited about where we are heading and what it means for the influence of the church in the western suburbs and beyond. In the mean time, glance over this article again and begin evaluating and brainstorming how your group has lived LIFE in the past and what you could do beginning this fall to live into group LIFE. If you need even more motivation for group LIFE, imagine a thousand people or more loving their neighbors, inviting others along, finding ways to serve and engaging God and his Word. That has the makings of a movement that will shake the gates of Hell!

By Tony Reinke

This past Sunday C.J. traveled to Virginia to preach at KingsWay Community Church. After the meeting, C.J. enjoyed lunch with the small-group leaders of the church, addressed them from 1 Corinthians, and fielded questions.

In light of 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, C.J. encouraged the small-group leaders to identify evidences of God’s grace in those they love and serve, and provided a “starter’s kit” on how to accomplish it.

In part he said,
Most people are more aware of the absence of God than the presence of God. Most people are more aware of the presence of sin than evidences of grace. What a privilege and joy it is in pastoral ministry and small-group ministry to turn one’s attention to ways in which God is at work, because so often people are unaware of God’s work. And much of God’s work in our lives is quiet; it’s not “spectacular.” It’s rarely obvious to the individual, and normally it’s incremental and takes place over a lengthy period of time.

So, informed by Paul’s leadership I want to interact with everybody by identifying an evidence of grace, because if they are Christian I know God is at work in their lives. What a joy it is to discern where and how God is at work, draw people’s attention to it, and celebrate God’s grace in their lives! The fact that we get to do this—how cool is this?

And I also know this is critical preparation for any correction that genuinely needs to take place in their lives. Because identifying God’s work in their lives gives them faith for the correction they might be in need of, and they can consider that correction without collapsing under that correction being unaware that God is at work in their life.

See, Paul’s correction of the Corinthian church is effective because he has faith for this church. When we correct people, they can tell whether we have affection for them and faith for them. I sadly know what it’s like to correct somebody where I neither had affection for nor faith for—as if the correction alone was sufficient and most important. That is not true. This is not an expression of the character of God and that is not biblical leadership.

I would encourage all of us to restrain ourselves from correcting someone until we have developed, to some degree, affection for them and faith for them.

So how do we identify evidences of grace?

Here is the “starter’s kit” I recommend for recognizing evidences of grace. (It’s a “starter’s kit” but you will never outgrow or exhaust it.) Just take two categories, the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. Work from those two categories and lists, study those lists in the Bible, look up from studying those lists, and look at Christians around you. You will see God at work everywhere you look.

God is working. God is very busy. God, give us the eyes to see how you are at work so we can identify that, draw people’s attention to it, celebrate it, and assign all glory to God for that work!

C.J. Mahaney, addressing the small-group leaders of KingsWay Community Church in Midlothian, VA (January 27, 2008).

We need a small group ministry champion at Westkirk … is that you?

First things first, what is a Small Group Champion?

A Small Group Champion is the shepherd of small group leaders—in short, a leader of leaders. A Small Group Champion cares for the spiritual welfare of the “brain trust” of the small group ministry—the small group leader—and helps him or her to be successful in leading a small group. A Small Group Champion has the spiritual gift of leadership.


If you have a heart for small groups and you feel the call of taking on a leadership role in the church, please pray about being a Small Group Champion and contact Pastor Steve if you have questions or would like more information.

Thriving After a Small-Groups Campaign Society Garlic

Four steps to a smooth transition into “normal” group life.

posted 04/14/08, By Bill Search

Sample Form: Church-Wide Announcement for Small Groups

Adapt this sample form to announce and promote small groups in your church.

posted 03/31/08, By John R. Throop

The Vision Behind Small Groups
Here are practical answers to many common questions about small groups in church.
posted 11/02/07, By Russ Robinson

Expert Advice for Small-Group Facilitators
Why obedience and a caring heart are all you really need.
posted 10/12/07, By Steve Gladen

Where the Divorced Get More than Sympathy
An innovative small-groups ministry for a neglected group of people.
posted 08/31/07, By John J. Van der Graaf

The Childcare Checklist
Use this practical tool to determine the childcare options in your small group.
posted 07/30/07, By Michael Mack

Key Principles for Re-Launching
John Atkinson discusses several important factors for small-groups ministries contemplating a re-launch.
posted 06/18/07, By John Atkinson

The Challenge of Challenging People
Practical advice for those willing to minister at the margins.
posted 05/25/07, By Pat J. Sikora

A Spiritual Growth Industry
Small groups are helping Christians bring faith to bear in the for-profit world.
posted 04/11/07, By Randy Christian

Support Groups May Be Worth the Trouble
A church needs to carefully consider the risks and benefits before launching a group.
posted 04/04/07, By Randy Christian

Sometimes, the ideal small group doesn’t have all its members in the same room.
posted 02/05/07, By Marilyn A. Yocum

Nine Ways to Support Your Support Group
Follow these foundational steps to get your groups off to a great start.
posted 01/12/07, By Randy Christian

Drawing Men into Small Groups
A proven plan for reaching reluctant men.
posted 10/27/06, From the Church Leaders Answer Book

Finding God in Small Groups
Tom Albin’s doctoral research reveals why the Wesley’s system worked so well.
posted 10/03/06, Interview by Tim Stafford

How to Start an Accountability Group
Become accountable to grow in your Christian life.
posted 09/22/06, By Christopher Easley

Building (or Rebuilding) a Healthy Small Group Ministry
7 important questions to consider.
posted 07/24/06, By Jeffrey Arnold

Launching Community
Three steps to making your small group dream come true for your church.
posted 06/22/06, Lifetogether

Questions: Icebreakers and Beyond
Steering your discussion the right way.
posted 05/23/06, Lifetogether

Transformation Takes Time
How small group leaders cultivate spiritual growth.
posted 01/31/05, Lifetogether

When You Realize Numbers Don’t Matter
Why small group success can’t be measured by numbers.
posted 01/04/05, Lifetogether

“Dude, I Can’t Shepherd a Small Group?”
5 tips on building community in your next group.
posted 10/11/04, Lifetogether

Why Small Groups Are a Big Deal
Seven things every pastor needs to know about the emergence of small group ministry.
posted 9/15/04, Lifetogether

A Simple Picture of Success
Four basic principles for growing a healthy small group.
posted 8/30/04, Lifetogether

No Time. No Resources. No Leaders.
Four tricks to launch something big with small resources.
posted 8/16/04, Lifetogether

From Dream to Reality
Most leaders who dream of “finding a shepherd for every sheep” find themselves a bit lost when it comes to starting small groups. You’re not alone.
posted 9/19/04, Lifetogether

1. Select a Passage (Usually 3 – 10 verses) dealing with the same topic.

Why do you want to study this passage?

2. Observe the passage by asking questions

  • Who is writing or speaking and to whom?
  • What is the passage about?
  • When does this take place?
  • Where does this take place?
  • Why does the author write what he does?
  • What problems were the recipients facing? How does this passage ?
  • How does this passage fit in with the context? (What goes before and after?)

Additional Questions to Ask:

  • What are the commands?
  • What are the promises?
  • What are the cause/effect relationships?
  • What are the repeated words and ideas?
  • What do I learn about God?
  • What do I learn about Jesus?
  • What do I learn about the Holy Spirit?
  • What do I learn about myself (or mankind)?
  • Write out any additional observations including contrasts, lists, comparisons, etc.

3. What is the “big idea” of the passage-your theme?

This can most readily be identified from the commands and the repeated words and ideas. Often there will be one command in the passage with several motivations. In one phrase, sum up the main thought of the passage.

4. Ask the natural question that arises from the “big idea.” This will usually be “how,” “why,” or “what.”

5. Answer the question you have raised from the passage. Put your answers in the form of an outline. These answers form principles of life and ministry. A principle is defined as a timeless lesson in the way God works, how you should live or in thinking God’s way. To develop each principle (each point in your outline), you will want to explain it (interpretation), illustrate it (from the Bible or personal examples of how this principle is worked out), and apply it.

Steps to interpreting the passage. Use as many of the following questions as you need, progressing downward.

  1. What are the meanings of the words?
  2. What does the immediate context suggest?
  3. What does the broader context suggest?
  4. What do cross-references suggest?
  5. What is the cultural meaning? (That is, What did it mean to those to whom it was originally addressed?)
  6. What do commentaries suggest?

6. Application

This is where you purpose to do what God has taught you in your time with Him. (Ref: James 1:21-25, Matthew 7:24-27) It is through applying the Word that God changes out lives. Application does not happen by osmosis but by intent. God enlightens us from the Word, we apply what we’ve learned with our wills, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to carry out these choices. It is usually best to concentrate on applying one principle at a time. The goal of all application is to glorify God by becoming more like Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for.”

  • Teaching. What did I learn?
  • Reproof. Where do I fall short? Why do I fall short?
  • Correction. What will I do about it?
  • Training in righteousness. How can I make this principle a consistent part of my life?

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:1

The Big Idea

Outlining the Bible is the primary means to prepare one to teach the precepts of Scripture in a clear and logical way. This is designed for the pastor, Bible study leader, or curriculum writer to learn how to examine the text and then draw out what is there in a logical and systematic way. In this way, we can develop well crafted sermons and studies that are personally edifying and impacting to our congregation. This form of study can even be used by a mature Christian wanting more out of the Word for personal edification. Outlining will enable one to “exegete” and then write out what the Bible is saying.

“Exegesis” is digging out from the passage the principles and ideas that are represented there. This helps prevents someone from adding his own thinking, prejudices, and ideas into the mix that would take away from what God is actually saying. Our responsibility is to ponder upon, examine, and expound on God’s Word, not add in what is not there. Nor, are we to leave out what we do not want and thus miss what He clearly has for us. Exegesis is a tool to help you stay focused and centered upon Him and His precepts and then be edified so you can edify others.

“Outlining” is taking what we have learned and then laying it out in an orderly and efficient way so we can understand it better. Doing this will enable the teacher to impart it to others in a more profound and impacting way. Keep in mind that Scripture is the source of biblical teaching; all we do is tap into it and pour out His most precious precepts for all to drink.

Why Should We Make an Outline?

An outline is an essential tool. It can be used for any form of text, whether it is a Bible passage or any other form of literature—from Shakespeare to a textbook to a magazine article. This is the way any good writer or researcher goes about preparing and organizing his materials.

I developed this curriculum for you to use from over twenty years of research. I sought out the principles and resources that a good “sermonizer” uses to teach. Why is one preacher bad and another good when they come from the same seminary and denomination? From my original mentorship under Francis Schaeffer, study under Ray Stedman, and interviewing hundreds of excellent Bible teachers including Charles Swindoll and R.C. Sproul for my book, Into Thy Word, it has been my quest to see what “secrets” and means can best be utilized to learn and then teach His Word. I discovered that an outline is essential, after a good inductive and or exegetical study, to lay out what we are to learn and then to teach. By the way, every good preacher is first a learner before they become a teacher! Being a learner, doing an inductive approach, and then outlining are the common denominators of what a good Bible-centered pastor does to prepare. There are no shortcuts to good Biblical messaging. We need, your congregation needs the right essential elements and tools to produce sermons. Outlining is essential for a Bible teacher use to prepare their lesson. Outlining will be your primary means of producing quality, Bible-centered lessons, talks, sermons, or even research papers.

The Basic Idea of an Outline

Outlining the Bible is not very different from outlining any other form of writing. Thus, there are many ways in which you can do it. I will give you several ways to do this; you may come up with some of your own. The main purpose is to break down and isolate from the text the various ideas or categories it is representing. Consequently, each paragraph may have several ideas that relate or add to the main theme of the paragraph. The task of outlining is to isolate and then lay out these ideas in a systematic and logical manner. The goal is to represent and teach the passage in the way it is intended, in its context and power. (If this is for a class project or assignment, first find out from your professor/teacher the form he wants, and use it; follow the assignment and class guidelines, even if you know a better or easier way).

Where to Begin

To start out, just recall what you may have learned in those grammar lessons in school, which is to simply go through the passage and pull out the themes, concepts, illustrations, and ideas presented. First, look for a general theme, then sub-themes and ideas, such as where each idea begins and ends, and how it is sustained. Search for the principal themes and the logical order of each subjunctive idea; then, when you see another principal/primary theme, you can place it in the next category or section.

An outline is basically an aid to help lay out the precepts and reasons of your sermon, study, or paper in a systematic, easy to use and easy to read structure. It helps you as the writer and another person as the reader to identify the general ideas and key thoughts of your line of reasoning. The basic consideration is for you to define the main idea and then the subordinate ideas.

© 1996, revised 2000, 2007 R.J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.com