If variety is truly the spice of life, too many small group Bible studies are pretty bland. Whether on a church campus or in a home, group leaders tend to revert back to their favorite teaching method or methods. It’s time to spice things up a bit and become less predictable. Did you know that when God communicated with people, He often did so in surprising ways?
Hebrews 1:1 tells us that God communicated with man “in different times and in different ways” (HCSB). Some of those ways proved to be surprising to the person or audience. Think about Moses suddenly hearing God’s voice through a burning bush, or the surprise when Balaam’s donkey spoke! Shepherds were surprised to hear angels singing and proclaiming the birth of the Savior, and who could have predicted that a hand would appear and write on the wall during a banquet?
God has a way of communicating with man that is often very surprising. As a group leader, you can copy this aspect of God’s communication style. Your group Bible study members won’t mind a bit if you change things up, do something delightfully different, and keep them wondering what you’ve got up your sleeve.
If you’re in the mood to surprise your Bible study group this week, try one of these ideas:
1. Surprise them by changing the order of things. Most groups have an identifiable pattern when they meet. Change the order in which you fellowship, pray, and study. You can begin by jumping into the Bible study, and end with a time if fellowship. Save announcements until the end of the session, or don’t make them at all…simply hand out a sheet of paper on which you’ve listed them. As someone once said, “If your group members know what’s going to happen, it’s time to throw out your playbook.”
2. Surprise them by teaching in a different way. If you tend to be a discussion-oriented group, intentionally deliver a well-crafted lecture. If you tend to speak a lot as the group leader, introduce some visual aids or object lessons to help your visual learners connect with the lesson. Break the group into smaller groups, watch a video clip, or try using a musical element in the lesson (play a song from your phone, iPad, or other device and have group members read the lyrics while the song is being played) – make sure it relates to your Bible study. The goal is to get out of your rut and appeal to the different learning styles of your group members. When you hear a small, quiet voice that says, “Your group members won’t like it,” simply ignore that voice and do it anyway. You’ll be surprised how much people will appreciate a little variety in the way you lead them through a Bible study.
3. Surprise them by changing your group’s location. If you are an on-campus Sunday School group, meet off-campus or in a different classroom, or just go outside if the weather is nice. If you are a home group, meet in a place where you’ve never held a Bible study, like a Panera Bread, an office, or the backyard of a friend’s house the group doesn’t know. A change of venue can excite your group members and build anticipation for your Bible study session.
Don’t be afraid of trying something new to surprise your group this week. A small surprise can help you capture your group members’ interest, redirect their focus, and help you teach God’s Word more effectively. Don’t be predictable…be surprising! God would. It’s time to shake things up!
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