“What are we going study?” is always a question that Small Group leaders wrestle with once–or in our case many–times a year.
Start By Asking Group Members
I always begin assessing the needs of my Small Group members. Individually, I plant a bug in individual groups members’ ears.
- What have they studied?
- Where are they at right now?
What would you think if we took a few months and studied the book of…?
I gain wisdom from these conversations, from themes in our prayer requests, and throughprayerful discernment. Then I try to align the themes of our lives with a book in the Bible that speaks into that.
Not everyone loves the material I ultimately choose, and I’ve had to relinquish the need to make everyone happy. Knowing that God’s Word will meet each person’s heart in a unique and separate way helps allay some of the weight of these decisions.
Will They Need to Prepare?
When considering what to study, I also consider how much time everyone has to prepare for our group conversation. My Small Group is a mix of young professionals with schedules marked by travel and long hours. We also have a number of couples (including my wife and myself) who have had litters of kids in the couple years.
I’ve found that these busy young professionals and young families don’t have much time for Small Group pre-work. So instead I seek out resources with solid questions that align closely with Scripture and are easy to prepare for in a limited amount of time.
Using Discussion Guides
College Park’s discussion guides for each sermon series are invaluable resources. As a Small Group we used them for around two years. These questions have
- grounded us in the Word
- allowed us to flesh out ideas from the previous
Sunday’s sermon has given us a framework for group members to prepare and for me to lead the discussion time. From these questions I would choose several open ended prompts that I felt would lead to robust discussion.
Other Resources and Scripture
Before we had regular discussion guides created by College Park, I was told about materials created by Matthias Media, a company based out of Australia. These resource booklets fit a number of criteria with the questions it asked broken up in manageable chunks on different topics.
Over the years our group has studied Old and New Testament books and in a variety of ways (guided book study, inductive method) along with the discussion guides provided at College Park.
Learning How to Ask Good Questions
Answering the question “What are we going to study?” hasn’t gotten any easier over the years. But I have discerned more as a leader and found that no one resource has encapsulated the power of good questions. After reading the Word intently and answering the questions posed by whatever curriculum selected, I, as the Small Group leader, scour books and the internet for podcasts, commentaries, and great questions formulated by other Small Groups at different times. I have learned that nothing can supplant a timely question. And over time, you learn how to ask better ones.