We’ve said goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021, and with a new year comes hope for better, brighter days. But as we start this new year, let me remind you what Proverbs 21:31 says: “A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord.” This simply means that you can’t just sit around and hope things work out. We make plans, we prepare, we train, and we fight – but we don’t think for a moment that we win battles because of our strength, cunning, and ingenuity. The Lord goes before us into battle. The fight is his, but we prepare. So with that in mind, here are the top 10 goals for groups in 2021 (I’ll share 5 today and 5 more on Thursday). It is our way of preparing to take on 2021, to fight for the spiritual health and wellbeing of our members, and to encourage people to once again regather for Bible study weekly.
Goal #1: Develop an apprentice leader. In the book Missionary Sunday School, David Francis wrote that an apprentice teacher is the number one sign that a group is serious about reaching others for Christ. An apprentice teacher differs from a substitute teacher in one big way: the apprentice teacher is preparing to either (1) lead the present group, or (2) start of group of his own. A substitute teacher, while great to have, does not have this same goal. To develop an apprentice leader, that person must teach regularly, and meet with the group’s primary leader to learn from him.
Goal #2: Organize your group into smaller Care Groups. COVID-19 exposed a weakness in most Bible study groups – they were not organized to care for one another during months of physical distancing. A care group is a smaller subset of the class – perhaps 4-6 members in each care group. Each Care Group is led by a Care Group Leader. Care groups greatly enhance the ability of each class to care for its members and prospects. I’ve tried caring for the members of several groups I’ve started over the years, and the job is just too big for one person. Let 2021 be the year that you organize your group to better care for its members by enlisting Care Group Leaders. What’s their job description? That’s easy: contact the people in their small care group once a week. Care Group Leaders discover needs and help the group leader/teacher by shepherding a portion of the group.
Goal #3: Develop a prospect list. I’m not going to elaborate a lot on this one. If you want to know a lot more about how and why to develop a prospect list, click here to read a post that I’ve written on this subject. For now I’ll simply say that a group of 10 people knows approximately 50 people (5 persons each) who do not attend a group Bible study. There are plenty of fish in the sea, so let’s cast some nets and bring people into our groups.
Goal #4: Meet regularly – in person or online – but meet! There are some alarming statistics that are surfacing about the behavior of Christians during the last 10 months of COVID-19. A large number of Christians have not attended a worship service or Bible study group in person or online since COVID-19 began. 50% of Millennials have stopped attending their church’s online services. To read more about this unfortunate trend, download a free copy of Lifeway Research’s latest book on groups and the effect of COVID-19 on them by clicking here. It is imperative that groups meet in person or online – we cannot continue to let people drift away from church life, from their friends, and from the Lord. Meet in person with safety measures in place. Meet online in a virtual environment – but meet! Remember that discipleship doesn’t take a week off. Unfortunately, almost 2/3 of Christians surveyed said they don’t need a group to help them grow – and they are dead wrong.
Goal #5: Encourage group members to “own” their spiritual growth. The members of your group don’t need to wait to hear you wax eloquently about the Bible each week! The time between group meetings can and should be a time of personal spiritual growth and discovery. Consider providing your group with study tools (click here to see some of Lifeway’s best personal study guides for adults). Encourage them also to spend time daily in communion with God (this is an easy ask at the beginning of a new year!). Show them how to read their Bible daily by sharing your plan and practice. Text the group or email them with comments and questions from their personal study guides, whetting their appetite for each upcoming Bible study session.
In two days I’ll share the other top 5 goals for groups in 2021. These 10 goals, if taken seriously by group leaders and group members, can begin a transformation process both in the lives of people, and in the group itself.
I’ll see you in your inbox around 8am CST in two days!