Most churches focused on discipleship have an outlet for growing community through groups. We differ on the language—life groups, community groups, missional communities—but our goals in these groups are mostly the same, with some slight differences in emphases of course.Community groups traditionally emphasize study together, while life groups center on digging into relationships and community, and missional communities have more of an “outward” focus. But, at the end of the day, we all want it said of our group that we strived to make disciples and disciple-makers. We all want to study Scripture, fellowship with the saints, and serve one another.
All of these goals are well and good, but those of us who have been part of groups that have lasted for a significant amount of time know how they can drift and turn stale. Sometimes your group may reach the spot where you all just feel stuck.
Here are five small but significant steps your group can take to start getting un-stuck. I call them “tune-ups.” Like an out-of-tune trumpet, perhaps our small groups are still making music but feel slightly off-pitch. We don’t need a new instrument or new equipment, just some quick adjustments. To be clear, these won’t happen at the drop of a hat and without effort, but they may prove to be important shifts for your group to consider making.
TUNE-UP #1 – CONSIDER THEOLOGY
I recently sat around a table with fellow small group leaders, talking about what’s working and what needs improvement in our groups. A overwhelming majority of the group leaders said that they were struggling most of all with the content of their study time together. They all felt like their groups were sort of indifferent toward whatever it was they were studying.
It’s no secret that many small group curriculums feel cut from the same cloth—practical advice on marriage or finance, general Christian living, or surface-scratching Bible studies. Perhaps if your conversations are feeling less and less indepth these days, it’s time for moving on from milk to meat. There are infinite riches and depths in the study of God; it is hard to get “stuck” when studying theology. Here is a sampling of study recommendations for your group that will offer solid content and are sure to spark discussion:
A study series on Romans 8. Check out John Piper’s “Look at the Book” video series on Romans 8, “The Greatest Chapter” (here).
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community (New York, HarperOne, 2009).
Pearcey, Nancy, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From Its Cultural Captivity, Study Guide Edition (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008).
The New City Catechism Devotional: God’s Truth for Our Hearts and Minds, ed. Collin Hansen (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017).
Wilkin, Jen, None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different From Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing) (Wheaton, Crossway, 2016).
Read the rest at Gospel-Centered Discipleship.