3 Common Misconceptions about DVD-driven Small Group Curriculum

There are several common misconceptions about DVD-driven small group curriculum.

But first, a little history:

In January of 2001, when Saddleback took the energy and resources that were producing their mid-week service (Side Note: averaging about 1,000 adults in attendance) and shifted that energy and those resources into producing video-driven small group curriculum, two important things happened:

  1. It made it possible for ordinary people with HEARTS for unconnected people to OPEN their homes, SERVE a few refreshments, and TURN on the VCR (Note: the origin of the HOST acronym).
  2. It made it possible for the most gifted communicators to launch discussions about God’s word in over 800 homes throughout the Saddleback Valley (Side Note: approximately 8,000 people).

Full Disclosure: I vividly remember the very first time our groups were provided a video based study.  My initial reaction?  Wait!  I love teaching!  I would rather teach the thing myself!  Remember that day like it was yesterday.  You know what happened?  I took a step back and thought about how many of the leaders in my small group system could do what I could do.  And there were some…but not many.  Only after gaining a sense of who I was did I reach the point where I became an advocate of DVD-driven curriculum.

And now to the misconceptions about DVD-driven small group curriculum:

Misconception #1: It limits the development and use of the teaching gift. I think the biggest misconception about DVD-driven material is that using it somehow limits the development and use of the teaching gift.  In my opinion, nothing could be further from reality.  The best DVD-driven material provides a discussion opener that presents God’s truth in a creative way and launches an engaging discussion that leads to genuine understanding and personal  application.  The best DVD-driven material averages 12 to 15 minutes in length.  At its best it is an opener.  Since most group meetings last 75 to 90 minutes…there is still plenty of time for the teaching gift to be exercised.

Misconception #2: It stunts group member’s ability to use their own Bible.  Okay…that might be even a little further from reality.  In my experience, the best DVD-driven material opens the door and points the way for group members to want to “examine the scriptures” for themselves.  Does it require a group leader willing to help less knowledgeable members find the chapter and verse?  Yes, but that’s part of the fun!

Misconception #3: DVD-driven studies can’t be used for discipleship.  Really?  I think that might just reflect a limited imagination.  I like Jim Putman’s thinking on the three keys to Jesus’ success as the “greatest disciple-maker in history:

  1. Jesus was an intentional leader in every sense.
  2. He did His disciple-making in a relational environment.
  3. He followed a process that can be learned and repeated (p. 35, real life discipleship).”

DVD-driven material allows the disciple-maker to be very intentional.  Using a tool like the Purpose Driven Life Health Assessment allows the group leader to choose the best material for the needs of the individual group.  DVD-driven material allows the group leader to focus more energy on creating a highly relational environment and leave the creative opener and direction-setting teaching to the most gifted communicator.  Further, DVD-driven material allows the process to be easily learned and repeated.

A little more history:

If Jesus was “the greatest disciple-maker in history,” I think you can argue that the Apostle Paul was only a few steps behind.  What made Paul such an effective discipler?  What do you think has had the greatest impact on the largest number of people?  The live teaching/disciple-making he did while alive or the impact of the teaching in his letters to 1st century churches and individuals?  If Paul were here today, what medium do you think he would use to guide the discipleship efforts of believers everywhere?

Want do you think?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

  • Mike Mack

    Great post, mark. I agree wholeheartedly on your assessment, particularly on how it effects discipleship. We need a variety of tools to we make disciples within the environment of community.

  • Jay Daniell

    True. True. and True.  I’m right there with you Mark.  

    I especially agree that video teaching should be an opener of 12-15 minutes or less.  This allows the freedom for the Spirit to lead the discussion in the direction which is relevant for the group. Some curriculum map out 5 min of video; then 7 min of discussion; then more video and then more discussion.  It’s a very cookie cutter approach which I think stifles the unique organic nature of each group.  Personally, I have never had a great experience with that .

  • Anonymous

    Good point Jay! Thanks for jumping in here!