Doing a church-wide small group study is one of the best ways to get your whole church on the same page (see the previous post for more info). Fall is a great time, but there are other good times as well. January, for example, is another great time. The season of Lent is another natural time.
It’s not as hard as you might think to get your small groups and your worship ministries aligned. To get the most out of it, however, consider the following:
- Choose a study that appeals to those you want to reach. What you choose will determine who participates.
- Do you want to reach unchurched people?
- Do you want to take your core deeper?
- Choose a study that can be led by anyone.
- If you go church-wide, you will probably need more small group leaders than you currently have.
- If you choose your study strategically, the leader will be a facilitator rather than a teacher (why not call them facilitators). They do not have to be Bible experts.
- Choose a study that comes with a leader guide to help your first-time facilitators.
- Choose a study of appropriate length.
- Eight weeks is the max. In general, 6-8 weeks works well.
- It needs to be short enough that people who are joining a small group for the first time don’t feel like they are signing up for life.
- Answer the unspoken questions upfront. People will say, “I’m too busy,” but what they’re really saying is:
- Will I have to pray out loud?
- Will I have to share personal information?
- What if I don’t know much about the Bible?
- Will it be weird?
- What if I don’t like it?
- Remove as many barriers to participation as you can.
- Provide child care if possible at least for one or more groups.
- Schedule groups for multiple times throughout the week
- What other barriers do you know exist for your congregants?
With a little planning, a church-wide small group study can reap huge benefits for your church.
Check out my Acts Bible study guide for your next church-wide study: We Are the Church…Let’s Act Like It. Sermon starters are available here to help with the planning.