What Small Groups Should Study and Direction from Above

I just read an interesting article by Eric Geiger at LifeWay. In essence, the article says that most small group leaders are given no direction in what their groups study. Read the article HERE.

Here’s my reply:

In some ways this is both bad news and good news. The bad news is that leaders and their groups definitely do need more support, equipping, and coaching than many churches provide. Some church leaders have the attitude of, “We have small groups that are meeting together, so discipleship must be taking place.” Not good.

But there’s some good news tucked away in there too. To borrow the illustration from the article, some pastors would not want an overarching group of leaders in the denomination headquarters telling them what to preach on Sundays. They might say that they know their people better than someone who has never spent time with them. They’d point to the principle of shepherding. In some ways, the same applies to small group leaders. Good, healthy leaders are primarily shepherds who know the sheep under their care, love them, invest in them, and prayerfully seek to lead them, as they follow the Great Shepherd. If these leaders have been well-equipped, church leaders should be able to trust them to shepherd their group members.

Note the IF. It’s essential. Shepherd leaders must be equipped, prayed for, loved, invested into, and coached. When they are, that’s good news for everyone involved!

One issue involved in this discussion is how we define leadership and oversight. Is the traditional top-down approach or a more decentralized, participative, bottom-up approach better?
I think this is an important topic, and it includes in it decisions about control, trust, the work of the Holy Spirit, vision, oversight, training, coaching, and more.
Please weigh in with your thoughts on this!

MORE ON THIS TOPIC:

What Every Small Group Leader Needs from their Small Group Pastor
You’re A Shepherd, But Not The Shepherd
What’s Your Definition of a Small Group Leader?
The Psalm of the No-Good Shepherd

7 Ways Your Small Group Can Celebrate the Incarnation this Christmas Season: #1: Experience Christmas!

The holidays are coming. What is your small group’s plan?

Many groups struggle with meeting and studying over the holidays, and this can be detrimental to the health of your group. Not only that, but this is a prime time of the year to help your group members grow in their faith as well as to reach out to and invite new people. Perhaps your group will take a break from your normal schedule, but that’s no reason not to keep meeting. Over the next week or so I will provide 7 ideas for how your small group can get the most—and give the most—from now through New Years.

1. Experience Christmas Anew

This is one of the most wonderful times of the year to grow together in your understanding of the gospel story. The Christmas Experience, from City on a Hill, is a great place to start. This is more than just a nice Christmas study; I believe it will be an experience you and your group will remember for a long time. I wrote the study guides for The Christmas Experience, and I don’t want to sound overdramatic but I loved watching the videos for this study. You can also watch the full-length movie version of this as a group and discuss it. Get more information on the City on a Hill Christmas Experience web page.

Kyle Idleman brought out insights I had never considered and helped me see this very familiar story in new ways. More than that, however, as I watched the dramatic presentation of the Christmas story, I was moved in ways I didn’t expect. As your group experiences this material, I believe they will be moved as well, and they will grow not only to know the story better, but to know God more intimately.
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The Christmas Experience is a six-week, DVD-driven small group study that examines the Christmas story in detail, helping groups (and families) prepare for the Christmas season. Each episode focuses on how God chose each individual in the Christmas story for a specific purpose. Those participating in The Christmas Experience study will find themselves in the story as they learn that what happened then changes everything now.

While this is a six-session study, it includes several options for doing the study in, for instance, four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Leader’s Guide and Participant’s Discussion Guide are designed to help groups interact with this material and to grow together as they experience it together.

The Christmas Experience Small Group Study includes:

  • Six 30-minute episodes on 2 DVDs
  • Subtitle options including: English, Spanish, and French
  • Leader’s Tutorial Video
  • Printed Leader’s Guide for facilitating dynamic group discussions
  • Printed Participant’s Guide (additional guides sold separately)
You can get more information, including an ability to watch the trailer, and you can purchase any of these materials on the City on a Hill Christmas Experience web page.

Seven Ways Your Small Group Can Celebrate the Incarnation This Holiday Season

What is your small group doing over the holidays?

“Many groups struggle with meeting and studying over the holidays, and this can be detrimental to the health of your group,” I wrote in my November column in The Christian Standard magazine. “Not only that, but this is a prime time of the year to help your group members grow in their faith and invite new people. Perhaps your group will take a break from its normal schedule, but that’s no reason to stop meeting.”

CLICK HERE to read my seven ideas for how your small group can get the most—and give the most—from now through New Year’s.

MORE FOR THE HOLIDAYS:

What to Do When God Does Not Feel Very Much Like “Immanuel”
5 Great Gift-Giving Ideas to Celebrate Your Small Group Leaders This Christmas
Experience Christmas in New Ways with Your Group This Year!
The Christmas Experience Trailer
Not Just Another Sentimental Christmas Message

The Christmas Experience Trailer

In my post last Friday (click here to read) I told you about a new video-based curriculum from City on a Hill called The Christmas Experience. Here’s a trailer of this dramatic movie, featuring Kyle Idleman:

I had the honor of writing the leader’s and participant’s guides for this study. I really encourage you to consider using this in your group or with your family this Christmas season. This study is not just a Hallmark-style, warm and fuzzy Christmas movie. I believe it can challenge your and your group’s faith and encourage your faithfulness.

To see more information and other trailers, or to order CLICK HERE.

What is your small group doing this Christmas season?

CHECK OUT THESE OTHER CHRISTMAS POSTS:
Christmas in Perspective
Not Just Another Sentimental Christmas Message

Experience Christmas in New Ways with Your Group This Year!

Christmas is coming. What will your small group(s) be doing to prepare for this important time of the year? 

Many groups struggle with meeting and studying over the holidays, and this can be detrimental to the health of your group! Not only that, but this is a prime time of the year to help your group members grow in their faith and to reach out and invite new people to your group(s). 

Here’s where I think this new study from City on a Hill can help. 

I had the honor of writing the study guides for “The Christmas Experience,”  featuring Kyle Idleman. Click on this link to check out brief videos about this study and order your copies today. It’s shipping now! 

This is a six-session DVD-driven study, but we provided some options for doing the study in, say, 4 weeks, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I don’t want to sound over-dramatic, but I loved watching the videos for this study! Kyle Idleman does his usual great job of digging into and explaining the context of the biblical story. He brings out insights I had never really considered and helped me see this very familiar Christmas story in new ways. More than that, however, as I watched the dramatic presentation of the Christmas story, I was moved in ways I didn’t expect. As your group experiences this material, I believe they will be moved as well, and they will grow not only to know the story better, but to know God more intimately.

I thought all the actors in The Christmas Experience did an amazing job, but I was especially impressed by the character of Mary and the actress who played her. I came to a new understanding of Mary (and Joseph) and why God chose them to be the earthly parents of the Savior.

I wrote the leader’s guide and participant’s discussion guide to help groups interact with this material and to grow together as they experience it together.

This really is more than just a nice Christmas study or a good curriculum. I believe it will be an experience that you and your group will remember for a long time. 


PRODUCT DISCUSSION (from the web site):
The Christmas Experience is a 6-week small group study that examines the Christmas story in detail, helping groups (and families) prepare for the Christmas season. Each episode will focus on how God chose each individual in the Christmas story for a specific purpose. Those participating in The Christmas Experience study will be able to find themselves in the Christmas story, as they learn that what happened then changes everything now.

QUICK OVERVIEW 
The Christmas Experience Small Group Study includes:
– Six 30-minute episodes on 2 DVDs
– Subtitle options including: English, Spanish, and French
– Leader’s Tutorial Video
– Printed Leader’s Guide for facilitating dynamic group discussions
– Printed Participant’s Guide (additional guides sold separately)

gods at war: New Life-Changing DVD-based Small Group Study from City on a Hill

I had the privilege of editing the leader’s guide and “combat journal” for “gods at war,” a new DVD-based study from City On A Hill Productions, narrated by Kyle Idleman. The small group material was written by Ross Brodfuehrer, who did an incredible job developing this curriculum.

From the City on a Hill website:

In a new twist to the cinematic style City on a Hill has become known for, this 6 episode series was filmed in a docudrama style – … featuring the late Chuck Colson (Prison Fellowship), Chuck Bentley (Crown Financial Ministries) and others telling their true stories. In these compelling stories, we will see some reflection of ourselves, and recognize the true battle that lies at the heart of all our sin struggles. These stories also point the way to victory, as we see the kind of life-transforming power that Christ is ready to pour out in our lives as well. 

I believe God will use this study to change lives, if group members fully engage with the material, which is easy to do with these dramatic videos and well-written discussion guides. If your group used and grew through “Not a Fan,” you’ll love this study as well. I’m highly recommending it!

Read more and purchase your copies of gods at war here (links to City on a Hill website).