“All of the Bible is always good, all of the time.”
I first heard that statement in a meeting with other pastors visiting Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. We were discussing how pastors should approach their sermon preparation, and how discipleship pastors should approach what their small groups study. The answer: “All of the Bible is always good, all of the time.”
This truth is liberating, for it reminds us that no matter how we go about setting up our small group ministry, as long as we keep the Word of God at the center, we make progress. As you gear up for a new small group season this fall, or if a new crop of members has already begun to grow, consider the way you organize the content of your group. With every new season comes a new opportunity to re-think the way you do small groups. Here are three ways you and your group can approach how you study the Bible:
For example, some small groups gather to study the Bible in a way that is tied to the message preached at the service. Using a discussion guide written by the discipleship pastor, group leaders facilitate a discussion based upon the message from the service. Proponents of this method often view the weekend message as the “front door” to the church for a guest. Studies like these help draw in those marginal attendees and make for a more comfortable experience for them since the discussion is based primarily on what everyone heard at the service.
Let Your Leaders Plan
Still other churches let their group leaders plan and teach what they want. They might choose a video-driven study, a short-term study on a given topic, or a book of the Bible. Or, they might subscribe to receive Bible study curriculum from trusted sources, published by Lifeway. Whatever way they choose, group leaders have freedom in this environment to chart their own course for their groups.
Still others might prefer to plan out a long scope and sequence for their groups to study. They might choose to walk through certain books of the Bible for a year, choose various topics to study, or do both over a longer period of time. Planning and purpose are very important variables for churches that take this approach.
With so many ways to set up a small group ministry, there are also many products to help support them. One web-based tool, smallgroup.com, gives churches and their group leaders the ability to create studies for all of these scenarios. Sermon-based groups can quickly customize existing studies to fit the message; church leaders can grant all of their group leaders access to create their own studies; and church leaders can build a scope and sequence by text or topic—or both—for as far out into the future as they please.
Regardless of how you set up your groups or equip them study God’s Word, the important thing is that they are studying God’s Word. “All of the Bible is always good, all of the time.” Enjoy studying God’s Word with your group this fall!
Rob Tims has been married to Holly for 17 years. They have four children: Trey, Jonathan, Abby, and Luke. He has served in the local church for 20 years as a children’s pastor, student pastor, and senior pastor. He currently serves on a team at Lifeway Christian Resources that develops customized Bible studies for groups and teaches two classes for Liberty University School of Divinity Online. He is the author of the book Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt.