Today’s blog post comes from a book on Sunday School and small groups. Today’s featured book is Transformational Groups by Eric Geiger and Ed Stetzer. Because of the section I’ve selected, I’m running the risk of sparking some serious debate! But I believe the authors are correct in their thinking. Here is what they say with regard to an intentional study plan for groups:
Our first disappointment was that over half of pastors surveyed said they have no visible strategy for their group life. As an indication of that, we asked an additional question: Who is responsible for selecting the curriculum for small groups? Two thirds of the pastors reported they let the group leaders decide. The “study what you want” approach is irresponsible unless there is clear training that equips group leaders for wise choices. Without that, the haphazard approach can be a bit terrifying…It works against a common direction and vision and creates a mismatched, helter-skelter kind of chaotic ethos within the church…Imagine if pastors…let Bob, the worship leader, pick whatever random song he likes…the musicians and choir could follow his lead or go do their own thing. The ushers could stroll down the aisle to collect the offering whenever the urge struck. This type of environment would be chaos, off-putting to any guest that came through and distracting for a member trying to participate and worship God with other believers…Yet according to the research, groups are often handled in this way…Small groups should receive similar care and attention as the worship service. – pp.8-9
If you’re a Bible study leader, you may not like the idea of being required to teach from a particular curriculum series chosen by a member of your church staff. Perhaps you believe your group doesn’t need curriculum (other than the Bible). Imbalance takes place when group leaders self-select and/or write their own studies. Curriculum created by Christian publishers are designed by teams of experts who pay careful attention when balancing the studies they create.
The curriculum provides a great starting point for a group leader’s preparation, allowing plenty of opportunity for group leaders to customize the content to their group. Curriculum is also balanced with studies coming from both the the Old Testament and the New Testament. Different genres of Scripture are covered over time, leading to a more balanced study plan. Curriculum also saves the group leader a lot of time in preparation – time that can be invested in ministry to group members and guests.
If you’re a pastor, education/discipleship pastor, Sunday School director, or someone else in charge of your church’s Bible study ministry, consider leading your group leaders to use a curriculum series carefully crafted by a Christian publisher.
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