“What study should we do next?” I don’t know about you…but I love hearing that question! I love hearing it from any leader, but I especially love hearing it from a new leader. When I hear it from a new leader, it means that their new group has made it through the critical first six weeks and is thirsty for more.
Here are some keys to helping leaders choose their next study:
For New Groups (the first 90 to 120 days)
There is a real difference between the needs of a new group and a seasoned group. Here are some things to keep in mind for a new group:
- It’s almost always best to choose their second study for them. Pick one out that is similar to what they used for their first study. If they started with DVD-driven, go with that. If it was a no-homework study, get one for them like that. If they’re newer Christians, choose a study that will meet those needs.
- It’s never a good idea to vote for what’s next in a new group. They don’t have their negotiating chops yet and a vote often results in a stall at a time when you really can’t afford it. In addition, those whose choice didn’t get chosen will have a reason to be disappointed. Don’t give them that. Instead, choose the next study for them.
- If you’ve just started several new groups and they’re all getting ready to move to a new curriculum, you might want to have two or three studies for the leader to choose from. The leader. Not the group. Make the studies available for them to look at in the lobby or even better, put them on a special page on your leader’s blog. It can be a work-in-progress; adding studies to the list as you discover them. Here’s a link to the Recommended Studies category on my leaders’ blog.
For Experienced Groups
Once a group has been together for longer than 90 to 120 days, they really are much more prepared to take next steps. They’ve made it through an important hurdle and in many cases are ready for some change. Here are some keys to help experienced groups choose their next curriculum:
- I love using the Purpose Driven Health Assessment as a way to help groups choose a next study. You’ll find a downloadable copy right here. Simply have all their members take the assessment. Add up all their scores and divide by the number who’ve taken it. You’ll be able to see where they’re already strong and where they need work. If you’ve got a next step suggestion for each of the purposes…it really is a no-brainer.
- Do a little work building a recommended study catalog and making it available (either in the lobby, on the web, or both) to your leaders to look over. If you’ve got the ability, make samples available for checkout and preview.
- Make it a practice that any study not on the recommended list must be approved by your small group pastor or director. This helps in more than one way. A Recommended List allows your pastor a little leverage that can guide groups toward studies that are appropriate. Also, it gives an out when an inappropriate study is proposed. What’s an inappropriate study? A little work in advance makes that distinction. It might be theological, but it might also be studies that require extensive leader preparation, that are about information (as opposed to application), or that are more suitable for a classroom environment.