Consulting and Coaching for Small Group Ministries

Category: Small Group Details

Choosing Small Group Bible Study Material

You’re ready to get your group going…or you’re finishing the study you’re in right now…and you’re trying to figure out what to do next. We’re all here eventually.  Now what?  Let me give you a few suggestions.

First, don’t take a vote!  Especially when your group is new (within the first 6 months) taking a vote can lead to some unnecessary debate (and even disappointment when a nominated suggestion is not chosen).  Instead, think about the members of your group and based on recent discussions choose a study that will help your group mature.

Second, taking the Purpose Driven Health Assessment can help your group determine which of the 5 Biblical purposes might need strengthening.  A great way to use this resource is to have each member of your group take the assessment and then simply add up their scores in each area.  You’ll quickly see where you need help!

Third, make sure you’re choosing material that is easy to use and leads to application.  Learning about the Bible is fine.  Learning how to apply what you’re learning is really the point.  One thing I always look for is material that an average person can lead.  That means that it has a leader’s guide (preferably built-in) and is mostly about facilitating and not
teaching.  If you want an average person to be able to lead it, you’ll need to focus on facilitating discussion and not teaching.  At the same time, a discussion is much more engaging than a lecture to your members.

Last, many groups find that a DVD-driven study capitalizes on a gifted teacher and allows the group leader to focus on keeping the group engaged and cared for.   Be careful that the material you choose doesn’t require so much preparation that connecting with group members becomes an afterthought.

Note: All 11 of the blog posts here are from 2008. The other 450+ are over at (where I add 3 to 5 new posts a week). Click here to check it out.

How Often Should We Meet?

I get asked this question a lot.  And it’s a good question.  People ask it out of a genuine interest in doing the right thing.  Mostly it’s asked by leaders or hosts of newer groups.  But it’s also sometimes asked by group members who are hoping for a particular answer.

My answer is always the same.  Your goal should be “more often.”  That is, you should have a goal to meet more often.  Why?  Because the more often you get together, the more likely that your group will really form the kind of bond that produces life-change.  The reasons for it are fairly obvious, but let me list a few of them.

First, when you’re just getting started it takes about 6 meetings for people to begin to feel like they’re connected.  They’ve had enough exposure to each other to start to hear the real underlying truth.  And that’s helpful.  But 6 meetings is still just 6 meetings, no matter how you slice it.  And that’s not quite enough to really cement the connections that are beginning to develop.  It seems that it take 12 to 18 meetings for a deeper sense of familiarity to form; a commitment to each other and a willingness to make the group a priority.

A second reason for a more frequent meeting pattern is that when a person misses a meeting and their group is only meeting twice a month, it will be a full month before the group meets again.  That’s too long!  They’ll have to reintroduce themselves!  A sense of connection and a closeness that develops can quickly deteriorate if there are too many missed meetings.

Perhaps the most important reason for meeting more frequently is that we’re designed by God for this kind of connection.  The idea that we would anonymously attend the weekend worship service and all it a week is not God’s idea of the depth of commitment we ought to have with each other.  It is impossible to read the New Testament and not come away with the idea that we’re to be deeply connected with each other.  In fact, when the Apostle Paul wrote about it he often used words that described the way body parts were connected.

So the question might be, “how can we meet often enough to really connect in that way?”  Another might be, “how can our meetings have the kind of vitality that leaves me feeling I don’t want to miss ’em!”  Let’s talk about that next.  For now, let’s just say you need to meet frequently enough to be sure you’re deeply connected.

Note: All 11 of the blog posts here are from 2008. The other 450+ are over at (where I add 3 to 5 new posts a week). Click here to check it out.