You hear the word “discipleship” and become excited. You see fellow believers and can’t wait to find ways to help them grow closer to Christ.
But what do you need to know?
As a leader entrusted with group discipleship, you need to have an understanding of basic small group language. Whether you’ve been leading for years but have actually never learned the definition of some terms or if you’re simply looking to get a foundational understanding for starting your small group leadership journey—this glossary of terms is for you.
- Small Group: Groups of people who meet together outside of the church building for Bible study and community are often referred to as “Small Groups.” These groups will usually meet in someone’s home, a neighborhood or apartment clubhouse, a coffee shop or restaurant, or a breakroom at the office. While most small groups will have some type of Bible study as a part of the meetings, the drive to gather is built primarily on the desire for community. The study portion is facilitated by a host, rather than taught by a teacher. These groups will typically meet weekly or bi-weekly.
- Sunday School: Groups who meet on a church campus (normally during the Sunday morning worship hours) are often referred to as “Sunday School groups.” While community can be encouraged in a Sunday morning group, the drive for these groups to meet is primarily Bible study. A Sunday School teacher will prepare a lesson plan based on the agreed upon curriculum, and participants are encouraged to follow-up with personal study during the week. These groups meet weekly.
- Discipleship: This comes from the singular command Jesus left us in Matthew 28:19: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” By definition, a disciple is a learner. We are constantly learning what it means to be more Christlike in our everyday lives. The ultimate goal of every group or relationship should be to help someone else become more like Christ—to create disciples who create disciples.
If your group is going through a traditional Bible study, then the differences below should be noted.
- Bible Study Book: This is the core resource for your small group members. Bible Study books are just that: a group and personal use resource (essentially a workbook) that guides you through studying the Bible. Typically, Bible study books are formatted in “sessions” that correlate to a one-week period. Often, groups use session 1 for week 1 of their group meeting and continue with 1 session per week through the rest of the study. Each Bible study session typically includes content that sets up the video session, discussion questions for your group, and concludes with “personal study” portions. This personal study is often in the form of follow-up devotions for group members to continue the study’s content between the small group meetings.
- Leader Kit: This is the core resource for you as the small group leader. Leader Kits include not only one copy of the Bible study book but also additional materials. These kits contain the DVDs for the study which include the teaching videos as well as various promotional materials to spread the word about the Bible study. The videos correspond to each session of the Bible Study book and typically are 10 – 15 minute sessions directly from the author. The kit also has a download code if your group does not have access to a DVD player and a redeemable code for the WORDsearch Bible—a resource with additional Bible study materials to enhance your knowledge as a group leader.
- Group Use Videos: These video options allow you to access the teaching content (included on the DVDs in the leader kit) without purchasing a leader kit. Instead of a physical disc, these are downloadable videos that provide the same instructive content to aid your group’s Bible study journey. They are available for purchase or rental.
- Individual Use Videos: If you are not completing a Bible study as a group but are engaging with the resource for your own personal use, you can purchase or rent the individual use videos. These videos are the same teaching sessions available on the leader kit’s DVDs but are downloadable and priced at a lower point since they will not be shared between multiple group members.
No matter your experience leading a group, we can all grow in our knowledge as small group leaders. One term at a time, let’s keep striving to make disciples who make more disciples.