The team I have the pleasure of serving with at Lifeway is tasked with creating custom content as a silent partner with churches all over the country. Before my work on this team, I was fortunate enough to create sermon-aligned content for one specific church. All that to say, creating and teaching sermon-aligned Bible study content is a passion of mine. Here are a few key takeaways I’ve gleaned over the years that could be helpful to those of you who currently use or are interested in using sermon-aligned content for your groups.
Benefits of Sermon-Aligned Content
The benefits are twofold. First, this approach offers your groups an attempt to go wider and deeper into what their pastor taught over the weekend. I heard pastor Mark Dever say one time that the job of a pastor is to spend 1 hour on Sundays resetting people to live for the remaining 167 hours in their week. What Dever meant was, we have limited time with our people—they spend far more time in the marketplace and in the world than they do in church. One of the goals of the worship gathering is to prepare them to live out their faith for the rest of the week. Thus, teaching sermon-aligned content provides a platform to extend what God has laid on your pastor’s heart into the week.
Second, this type of content gives group members a way to process and apply what God is saying to them through the sermon. Many people walk away from Sunday worship wrestling with some truths to apply, and have additional questions about what was preached. Sermon-aligned groups provide a context to address these questions.
What Kind of Groups Can Use Sermon-Aligned Content?
Any kind of group can benefit from this content—from a traditional Sunday school model, where the groups meet before or after the worship gathering—to small groups that meet in homes throughout the week. The process will look different for different groups.
For groups that meet on Sunday the day the sermon is preached, it may be helpful for you to work a week behind and cover last week’s sermon before the current week. This gives you adequate time to prepare. Additionally, people have (hopefully) wrestled with the content for a week and will (once again, hopefully) have some thoughts about how to live out what they heard.
Groups that meet throughout the week after the sermon has been preached can feel more comfortable expanding on the material that they heard on Sunday. Many churches provide their groups with sermon-aligned lesson plans, which make this process easier; however, the preparation for all types of sermon-aligned groups should look pretty similar. I’ll tackle what preparation looks like in a later blog post.
Reid Patton is a Content Editor for the Custom Content Team at Lifeway Christian Resources, where he produces biblical small group studies for Discipleship In Context and SmallGroup.com. He is the thankful husband of Kristen and proud father of Ceile and serves with the Life Group leadership team at the Church at Station Hill in Spring Hill, Tennessee. In his free time, Reid likes reading, watching NBA Basketball and Auburn Football, and going to record stores. You can find him on Twitter @jreidpatton.