What's most important to small group teachers

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by troutstalker, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. troutstalker

    troutstalker
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    I was going to post this as a poll, but when I started thinking about all the choices I wasn't sure I could list a succinct enough list to get your feedback.

    I'm working on a project right now that has me considering what small group Bible study leaders (and/or Sunday School leaders) believe is most important for them to be better equipped to lead a small group that is relevant and effective in today's culture. (I realize that may require you to operate from an assumption about the goals of a small group, but you can share that also if you wish as an introduction to your answer.)

    Are the participants of small groups you are affiliated helping lead participants to become doers of the Word and not hearers only? If yes, what do you think is making the difference between your group(s) and others out there that are merely gerbil wheel Bible studies?

    Is it a content issue? Is top notch commentary type content what it takes? Or is it more good commentary with incredible life application helps?

    What about organizational helps? Is this where the greatest need lies?

    Is it a need for leaders whose lives are being changed continually instead of Stagnant Stan leading the groups?

    What are your thoughts... maybe you'd like to just add some commentary thoughts about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of small groups that you see in today's church.

    Your input is appreciated and will no doubt be appreciated... and who knows... maybe if there is some consistency we can turn it into a poll at some point. [​IMG]
     
  2. Deacon

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    Welcome Troutkiller. Personally I am a catch-and-release fisherman but to each their own. [​IMG]

    I lead a small group of between 6-10 people every Wednesday evening going over the message that we heard on the previous Sunday.

    I consider myself a facilitator, not exactly a leader. I lead the discussion by asking questions and encouraging each person to participate. By encouraging participation and allowing time for fellowship and prayer we have developed a closeness that encourages spiritual growth.

    About every other month we participate in a type of service; Last November we did yard work for an elderly couple that has been faithful for many years at our church. It not only helped them in their need but helped us as a group to be able to serve together.

    Each fellowship leader in the church has a different style. I wouldn't be effective in a preaching type group where I would dominate the talking. Some groups do well with that style though.

    ANYWAY, this leads me to answer your question, whats most important for a small group leader? I'd say an vital relationship with the Lord. Keep things alive and real.

    Rob
     
  3. troutstalker

    troutstalker
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    Thanks for the thoughts Deacon!

    So you say it is the leaders whose lives are being changed who are best equipped to lead others in Bible study that can change the lives of those for which they have responsibility to lead?

    Hmm... there's a poll for small group leaders. (note this is rhetorical only at this point... not an actual poll, but who knows... maybe it could be)

    When was the last time you adjusted your life to bring it more in line with some new truth from God's Word? Or, How often do you respond to your study of God's Word by adjusting your life to bring it more in line with the new truths you are learning? 1) Every time I study, 2) Fairly often, 3) Occasionally, 4) Seldom, 5) Change, why? -- or -- What NEW truth? -- or -- I wouldn't be teaching if I wasn't on track already -- or -- I'm always prepared to lead the teaching activities suggested in my leader guide.

    Shouldn't our lives be in adjustment mode as often as we sit under God's Word?

    Okay, heres an additional question... overall, what percentage of small groups you have the opportunity to observe are effectively leading their participants toward life change? (I know... it's somewhat subjective, but humor me if you don't mind)
     
  4. Deacon

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    The purpose of a fellowship group is to bring a disciple of Christ into a more vital (alive) relationship with Christ. If a small group leader is ineffective at encouraging life-change, then the group's purpose is not being met!
    A group with no purpose is weak and probably would disolve out of lack of interest by the participantsl.

    Sometimes the ineffective groups may still hold together just to fellowship with each other, they enjoy the company (misery loves company?).

    Other ineffective groups may last a while because the participants feel that if they are in a small group, then that alone means that they are learning. I don't agree. Some people are lazy; changing yourself is work.

    My observational guess is perhaps high, (50-75%), those groups that are effective multiply, the groups that are not weaken and die.

    Rob
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    Heavy doctrinal teaching, making sure the Bible content is preeminent so that each person fully grasps and applies the truth.

    We steer away from "felt needs" and "pop" topics and focus on soul-changing truth - NOT emotional appeals, quick-fix, 12-step, etc

    Without application, it becomes just facts/teaching which may blow right over the head of the student. But it is the Holy Spirit that must apply the Word to the heart - not my pushing and prodding (like most "canned" bible study/small group material does).

    There is a "rise and fall on leadership" within even small groups. I need to lay out the Word and support that WITH the Word and apply it FROM the Word to allow the Spirit to see results. That is a huge responsibility on my part. But unlike preaching (which is heavy on the DO part, motivating to action/acceptance of truth) it has to be Word centered and bring the group member to his own course of action.

    Need well trained leaders who are not "teacher type" (i.e. boring lecture) but living example. Hey, if what is being studied is not affecting MY life, it is not worth doing.

    Problem is, most cell groups follow manuals and course of study religiously and real life is not like that. If ANY material is used (and I don't recommend it) then it should be a resource and not dictate "lessons" that must be covered.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. tinytim

    tinytim
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    What's most important to small group teachers?
    .
    .
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    STUDENTS [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] :rolleyes:

    I just had to get my corny-joke-of-the-day in!!
     
  7. David Mark

    David Mark
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    Take your group out in public. Take them to lunch or something. Watch and listen intently to each one of them, ignoring no one. Watch how they interact with each other and how they interact with the public, and you might learn something about what areas they are weak in and what areas they are strong in.

    Examine yourslef also.

    Just a thought.

    Dave
     
  8. glenn316

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    I think a lot of people won't lead a small group becaust they feel they don't know enough. The "What if they ask a question I can't answer?" syndrome. I think the advent of so many "inductive" study books has helped some, you know, the type with the questions already supplied. Still people have to overcome the Moses complex. They don't think they can speak in front of even small groups.
     
  9. troutstalker

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    Thanks for you input so far... I'm sensing some tension (healthy difference of opinion but no disagreement being debated) over a vision for small groups. In the field where you labor, what is the vision for small groups? Is it a mini-seminary in focus, a hospital, a foyer to your ministry, or what?

    (Oh, illustrations would be fun on this one -- like the hospital imagery... statements like, "I see our small groups like a hospital because..." would be fun -- at least I think so.)

    I got an interesting email newsletter this morning where the hypothesis of the "author" was that visitation doesn't work. He cited the work of two authors (Tom Rainer and James Engle). Scale says "In the old school, we thought of evangelism as purely a decision. The Engle Scales helps us to see it as a journey, moving people from no knowledge or awareness of God to becoming fully devoted followers of Christ."

    It seems Rainer simplifies in a list of five stages from "not interested and antagonistic" to "very interested and open."

    The author of the email newsletter makes this point... "This is one of the reasons the seeker model has been so successful. It allows people time and multiple exposures to the gospel to make a decision. And it is one of the reasons the fellowship-driven strategy works. It gives people time."

    He then adds, "Someone said that believers and non-believers have one thing in common: they both hate evangelism. Well, they have a second thing in common: they both hate visitation.... It is not true of everyone, of course, but lots of people don't like the idea of us knocking on their door unannounced asking to come in and talk."

    The author explains, "This Saturday night I am doing a dinner and a movie. We will have a potluck dinner at 6:00 and watch Sea Biscuit at 7:00. I got a list of members and prospects from my church and have asked a few friends to make some phone calls. If all goes well, we will have a house full of people who will enjoy an evening of dinner, fellowship and a movie. Some of them will be outsiders or peripheral members of the group. I will make an announcement about a couple of Bible studies that they could be involved in. One or two will start coming. It doesn't happen every single time. Sometimes we do this and the turn out is poor, or it is just insiders. But, if we do this consistently, we can double every two years or less. And, hey, this is not so bad. It is dinner and a movie."

    He adds, "It works far better in my experience than traditional visitation."

    Thoughts... especially related to small groups. Hmm maybe a whole new topic though.

    [ January 06, 2004, 05:56 AM: Message edited by: troutkiller ]
     

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