Integrating Spiritual Formation Practices into GroupLife

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One of the most important trends in small group ministry is the way spiritual formation practices are being integrated into small group curriculum.  I listed it as one of the top 5 trends right here.  It’s popping up in a variety of ways.

One of the most prominent ways that spiritual formation is showing up is the inclusion of small group oriented questions in books like those in James Bryan Smith’s The Apprentice Series (The Good and Beautiful Community, The Good and Beautiful God, and The Good and Beautiful Life) or Trevor Hudson’s Discovering Our Spiritual Identity.  Including a set of questions or experiential assignments in the book itself makes it much more likely that groups will choose to use the book as curriculum.

Another key ingredient to the trend is the availability of small group curriculum that develops a spiritual formation pathway.  Early examples of this idea can be found in Zondervan’s Pursuing Spiritual Transformation series, particularly Fully Devoted, providing hands-on experiential elements in preparation for the group time.  Lifeway’s Formation: Building a Reliable Foundation is a more recent addition to the resource library.

It should also be mentioned that John Ortberg’s The Me I Want To Be is now available as a church-wide campaign.  The combination of DVD-driven small group curriculum (developed in Ortberg’s “Dallas-Willard-for everyone” style), available weekend sermon outlines, and promotional materials (bulletin shells, postcards, posters, and powerpoint slides) makes it possible to take your whole church on a spiritual formation journey.

Finally, the combination of an online experience with a printed or downloadable study guide is becoming more common.  In addition to the robust Monvee (with it’s visual experience and available small group curriculum), Chazown (based on Craig Groeschel’s book by the same name)  provides a simpler, more defined formation experience based on the idea of becoming what God had in mind for you when you were created.

Whichever angle you choose for your small group ministry it is becoming much more common for spiritual formation to be introduced or encouraged through the delivery system of grouplife.  I think you’ll agree, it makes a lot of sense to integrate the two into one experience.

Are you aware of other books, curriculum, or online experiences that promote spiritual formation in the context of a group?  Use the comment section to join the conversation!  You can add your two cents right here!.

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  1. Troy on April 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Mark – Where can the Me I Want to Be Found as a Church Wide Campaign.  I’m not fining it.  Thanks Troy Scott

  2. Anonymous on April 22, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Thanks for jumping in here, Tony. I’ve fixed the link on this article to take you to the “Church Experience” version of the study.


  3. Daniel Adhi Surya on April 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Mark, is there any “email subscription” button on your website? So that I will know every time you post a new article. Thank you.

  4. Anonymous on May 1, 2012 at 6:16 am

    Hi Daniel! You can subscribe two ways. First, at the very top of ever page you’ll see where it says, “Three Ways to Subscribe.” Click that link ( and you’ll see how to sign up. Also, the little icon in the upper right that looks like an envelope does the same thing.


  5. Troy on June 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Hey mark – just a quick side note – It’s Troy – not Tony ;).  Also – I went to the updated link and still no sermon direction or campaign help really.  I bought the church campaign pack.  all it has is a book, video, participants guide, and a 8.5 x 5.5 of a getting started guide.  When you go to the me I want to be website all you get is Zondervan and they have yet to respond to emails.  Just giving you a heads up and wondering if you could steer me in another direction for Me I Want to Be Resources.

  6. markchowell on June 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Sorry Troy! I just checked myself and I believe Zondervan has taken that site down. My review was written a little over two years ago…and it seems that they’re not currently offering the resources anymore.


  7. markchowell on June 20, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Update: Troy, just heard back from Zondervan. They’re migrating all church-wide campaigns to a new website and may have taken down the old link already. Email me at and I’ll forward you the sermon outlines, etc.