I’ve pointed out a number of times that one of the most important keys to sustaining new small groups is giving them a study to do next that is similar in kind. By that I mean similar in several ways:
- Similar format. If you launch a group with a DVD-driven study, be sure and choose a follow-up that is also DVD-driven.
- Similar leader preparation required. If the first study required only basic preparation, be sure and choose a follow-up that is easy on the new leader.
- Similar member preparation. If the launching study had no homework or preparation, choose a follow-up that is easy on the member.
- Similar interest level. If you used a cross-cultural study to launch the new group, choose a follow-up that will appeal to new members (or the friends and neighbors of new members).
I’ve also pointed out that it is wise to choose the follow-up study before you begin your church-wide campaign. You’ll want to introduce your recommended follow-up study in about week 4 of the launching study and you won’t want to be scrambling to figure out which study will appeal to your newest leaders and their members. See also, 5 Keys to Sustaining New Groups.
5 Recommended Follow-Up Studies
Keeping these criteria in mind, here are a five of what I think are the best follow-up studies:
Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry is a six week, DVD-driven study on a topic that is dead center for many, many people. Noble, the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church, “a growing, vibrant church with multiple locations all over the state of South Carolina,” is a gifted communicator and teacher, convicted about speaking the truth as plainly as possible.
Overwhelmed is a DVD-driven study, featuring the dynamic teaching of Perry Noble. At 20 to 23 minutes in length, these sessions will hold everyone’s attention. Clipped from a weekend message series at NewSpring, there is never a dull moment. Powerful personal examples and great visuals will captivate your members. You can read my full review right here.
Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human is an 8 session small group study that reveals the character of Jesus in a powerful way. Judah Smith is the Lead Pastor ofThe City Church, a multi-site church with thousands in attendance each weekend in the Seattle area. He’s also a popular speaker at conferences and events in the United States and abroad.
(From the introduction) “Jesus is ______________? That question was at the heart of a campaign The City Church launched with the goal of getting Seattle to think about Jesus. Given a chance to fill in the blank on a website,Jesus-Is.org, thousands of answers came in. “Some were profound. Some were hilarious. Some were spiteful. But all of them said something about the spiritual journeys of the people filling in the blanks.” You can read my full review right here.
Follow: No Experience Necessary is DVD-driven and each of the sessions is a 17 to 22 minute clip from an Andy Stanley message. One of the most compelling communicators in America, this is must see TV. Never flashy or fancy, Stanley is known for his ability to draw out life-changing truth and deliver it in a way that is both inspiring and very memorable. Follow is an excellent example of his pattern of taking difficult or challenging ideas and presenting them in a way that leads to application.
Wiser Together: Learning to Live Together is a short study, just 5 sessions. Featuring teaching by Bill Hybels, the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, the sessions are classic examples of his style. Each segment is a manageable length, the average time is 13 to 18 minutes.
The study guide includes all of the elements needed for a very good time together. Along with a video viewing guide, each session includes a warm-up question or two designed to get your group engaged and talking. A good set of discussion questions pulls members into a better understanding of the wisdom of scripture and adeeper study section provides another question or two if you have time to go further. You can read my full review right here.
Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith is not a new study. Published by Zondervan in 2009, the study is based on five faith catalysts that North Point has identified as the things God uses repeatedly to grow people’s faith.
DVD-driven, the six session study is anchored by excerpts from a North Point message series. The sessions average 15 to 20 minutes in length and feature Andy Stanley, one of America’s most dynamic and creative speakers. The DVD also includes all six messages in their entirety as a bonus feature.
Delivered in his classic application oriented style, Stanley zeroes in on the five faith catalysts of practical teaching, providential relationships, private disciplines, personal ministry, and pivotal circumstances. You can read my full review right here.
Image by chintermeyer