Today’s blog post is practically a guest blog post by my friend and colleague, Richard Edfeldt. Richard is one of LifeWay’s Church Partners, a group of dedicated professionals who visit many churches each week. In the course of a Church Partner’s week, he will keep a pulse on trends, recommend curriculum, provide impromptu counseling on education and other church-related matters, and provide training when needed. Richard and his fellow Church Partners are terrific experts, and invaluable to the churches to whom they relate.
Richard compiled a document that pulls together a number of reasons why church leaders and group leaders should consider the value of Personal Study Guides (PSGs). Perhaps you know these as “Sunday School Quarterlies” or some other term. It’s the small book full of 13 Bible studies that most churches provide for their members and guests. When I saw Richard’s document, I asked permission to post it here on the blog. Without further ado, here are some reasons why PSGs are a valuable tool to help people grow as disciples, straight from Richard and the helpful document he compiled:
The largest research project ever conducted on effective discipleship practices revealed that healthy churches teach people to connect to God’s Word, both on an individual basis as well as in community. But that connection doesn’t just happen. It requires an intentional plan and provision of resources. It also requires a consistency of purpose. Finally, it requires time in God’s Word.
So how can you help your members learn to connect to God’s Word?
By training them to use a Personal Study Guide!
Why Personal Study Guides are important to a person’s discipleship development:
THEY REMOVE BARRIERS. When you hand someone a Personal Study Guide, you remove his/her biggest obstacle in connecting with the Bible – confidence. Essentially, you equip long term members to become active participants and you tell guests, “We want you back. You belong here.
THEY ARE A DISCIPLESHIP TOOL. Learning to connect to God’s Word doesn’t happen overnight. It takes intentionality and commitment. The Personal Study Guide provides guidance and commentary to help an individual understand what they’re reading in a format that is easy to follow. It also helps them develop a daily time in the Word and with God.
THEY INCREASE A PERSON’S EXPOSURE TO THE WORD. Exposure to God’s Word transforms a disciple’s life. Giving someone a Personal Study Guide communicates that personal Bible reading and study is essential for spiritual growth and it provides them with a practical guide to approach their person Bible study time.
THEY CAN ADD TO DEEPER DISCUSSION. The Personal Study Guide exposes an individual to questions that promote understanding and application throughout the week. Giving an individual time to digest the Scripture on their own helps lead them to deeper discussion when the group meets weekly.
THEY CREATE A STRONGER COMMUNITY CONNECTION. Through repeated exposure to the Word and to deeper group discussion, Personal Study Guide also helps deepen the investment an individual makes to their group and to their church. As a result, the people in your groups become some of your most engaged church members.
THEY DEVELOP LEADERS. Every group has people who are already well equipped to lead, but may not believe it yet. These guides demystify the process of preparing and leading the group conversation, giving the group member the confidence they need to take the next step toward becoming a group leader.
The PSGs that LifeWay produces, for example, cost approximately $2.75 each for 13 Bible studies. The PSGs are printed on high-quality paper, and in 4-colors so that the brilliance of some photos really shines through. At this price, a church can provide an individual with a PSG for just $.03 per day! There is no greater investment that a church could make than to provide its members and guests with Personal Study Guides.
Tomorrow’s post is also going to come straight from Richard’s document – this time he will show us 11 ways to encourage people to use Personal Study Guides in their quest to be fully devoted followers of Christ.
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