Choosing the right curriculum is an essential ingredient in launching new groups. Make a great selection and you’ll significantly increase interest in the group. You’ll also increase the likelihood that the group continues beyond the first 6 weeks. Choose poorly and your new groups may not even get off the ground.
Here are the four keys to choosing curriculum that launches groups:
- Topic: Look for a topic that has broad relational appeal. Be very careful about topics that might only appeal to one segment, for example, married couples (unless you’re intentionally trying to launch groups for couples). Look for a topic that will interest a range of spiritual maturity. Keep in mind that what some mature believers might find interesting will have little or no interest for unbelieving neighbors or friends.
- Study Length: The ideal length is 6 weeks. Lyman Coleman said that 6 weeks is short enough to encourage commitment and long enough to begin to produce a sense of connection and community. Be careful about selecting studies that are longer than 6 weeks. Unconnected people are less likely to commit if the initial study seems too long. At the same time, a 3 or 4 week study may not be long enough to produce the beginnings of connection and community (Be careful about choosing consecutive 4 weekers to meet the six week ideal length. That produces an additional transition from one study to the next).
- DVD-Driven: DVD-Driven makes it easy for a new leader to get the meeting started. It takes the pressure off the leader and allows the group to focus on a great communicator sharing the main idea. This is especially important if you’re using the HOST or Connection strategies where you’ve recruited new leaders with the idea that the curriculum is easy to use (i.e., the “T” in the original HOST acronym stood for “turn on the VCR”) and requires little preparation allowing the leader to focus on helping members connect.
- Discussion-Driven (vs. Teaching or Lecture): Questions ought to produce discussion, not right answers. Look for curriculum that helps members engage in personal application. Knowing how to take a next step is much more important than knowing who wrote Romans or where they were when they wrote it.
Important Note: Like every other aspect of small group ministry…there is no problem free and I’ve not found a perfect launching curriculum. I’ve found some that satisfy most of the keys to choosing curriculum. I like Building Biblical Community featuring Bill Donahue and Steve Gladen. I also really like several of the Liquid studies (particularly Mirror Image). I’ve also reviewed a number of DVD-driven series right here.
What studies are you using? Have a suggestion? You can click here to jump into the conversation.