I have a go-to low carb eating plan that I turn to whenever I sense the extra pounds starting to come back on. The diet includes mostly eating eggs and black beans every morning. I will be honest, before starting this plan I was not a raving fan of eggs and black beans. But what I had not yet discovered was how creative you can get when you are desperate. I knew the only way I was going to last longer than one week on this diet was by coming up with a variety of ways to prepare eggs and beans. However, no matter how many ways you spice it, I was still only eating eggs and beans. Every day. That might be great for the short-term gain, but it’s not exactly a balanced, healthy diet.
In the same way, our small groups are not going to be their healthiest without a balanced spiritual diet. Our goal should be to create mature disciples who make disciples, and the best way to achieve this is by offering our groups a well-rounded discipleship plan to follow throughout the year.
Here are four reasons to provide a balanced curriculum plan for your group leaders to follow.
1. They know what to study next.
Research for the book Transformational Groups found that 75% of group leaders want more direction from church leaders when it comes to their groups. The majority do not have the time or the ability to choose the best studies for their groups. They often feel burdened by and unprepared for the task of setting a course for discipleship. They are grateful to have a plan to follow that is taking their group somewhere spiritually and purposefully.
2. It drives members toward spiritual maturity.
Paul compels us to seek maturity in Hebrews 6:1: “Therefore, leaving the elementary message about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity…”
J. Oswald Sanders said that the correct sense of the verb in this passage is, “Let us continue progressing toward maturity.” In other words, maturity will not occur overnight. There is not one event or moment—or Bible study—that will make us mature Christians. It happens slowly through a growing knowledge of Jesus and Scripture, and the way to get there is through intentional study after intentional study with a small group of believers.
3. It helps assure sound theology.
Groupthink can quickly lead to bad theology. Not every leader will be mature enough to just open Scripture and exegete it correctly for the group. They need doctrinally sound content to keep the group on the true path. Not every published study is created equal, so we have to be diligent in what we put in our leaders’ curriculum toolbox.
4. It helps raise up new leaders.
If you are looking for new leaders for your groups (and we all are), the best way to develop them is through existing groups. After following a balanced discipleship plan for a year, they will be ready to step out and guide others along the same path.
This is why Lifeway has developed a Balanced Discipleship Plan for group leaders to follow. Throughout the course of a year, they will choose studies from seven categories—Foundational Discipleship, Bible Book or Character, Doctrine, Real Life Issues, Identity, Mission, and Community—that will ultimately move them toward spiritual maturity.
It’s time to stop just eating scrambled eggs every day. Let’s help our groups get healthy through a balanced plan.
Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with over 23 years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, and was on staff at Seacoast Church in Charleston, SC, for 15 years. He is also the Small Group Specialist for Lifeway Christian Resources. Chris’s first book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes, was recently released by Thomas Nelson. You can follow his blog at chrissurratt.com or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.