Small Group Ministry Myth #3: Leaders and Members Know Best What to Study

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Note: This is part 3 of a 5 part series.  You can read part 1 right here.


I love the Discovery Channel show MythBusters.  The show has a simple premise: The MythBusters team “proves and disproves urban legends and popular misconceptions using a signature style of explosive experimentation.”  The myths and misconceptions that get tested range from the absurd (can you herd cats?) to the profound (could Luke Skywalker really swing himself and Leia across a chasm with only his belt-rigged grappling hook). Very fun.

But you know…sometimes I run across a small group ministry myth that really needs to be busted.  You know what I’m talking about?

Here’s a look at the third small group ministry myth that needs busting (did you miss Myth #1?  You can find it right here):

Myth #3: Small group leaders and members know best what they need to study.

Who decides what the groups in your small group ministry study?  You?  Your small group leaders?  Do your leaders take requests from their members?  Do your groups vote on what they should study?

Who decides?

I realize that sermon-based small group ministries have what they’re studying handed to them.  And I know that most adult Sunday schools determine for their classes what they’ll be studying next quarter.

But don’t your group leaders and their members really know best what they need to study?  Who knows better?  Right?

Truth: Trusting group leaders and members to figure out what they should study in their group is a little like trusting your children to plan and prepare the family dinner menu.  Most groups will make good choices some of the time.  But if you want to make mature disciples, those who effortlessly do what Jesus would do, you will need to provide good guidance in the selection of study material.

If you don’t currently guide your groups in the selection of study material, you’ll want to carefully consider moves in the direction of limiting choices for group leaders and members.

  1. At a minimum, it makes sense to encourage every group to participate whenever there is a church-wide campaign.  In addition, there may also be a short list of required studies that are part of the annual diet.  For example, you may want every group to schedule 5 Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith or Just Walk Across the Room during the course of the year.
  2. Next, a recommended list can provide needed direction.  Many small group ministries require group leaders to submit for approval any study they’d like to use that isn’t already on the recommended list.  Here’s a sample of a recommended study list.
  3. Still better, you may design a curriculum pathway that provides a wise discipleship plan.  See also, The Importance of Discipling People with Wisdom.

Did you miss Small Group Ministry Myth #1?  You can read about it right here.

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

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  1. Tom Koagel on April 30, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Truth trusting your leaders and members to determine what they should study is like trusting your children to make dinner, while I am a child of God I believe his trust in me is much greater than yours.

  2. markchowell on May 1, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for jumping in here, Tom! Let me assure you…there is little doubt that God has more trust in you than I do! And that’s a good thing, right? What I’m saying here is NOT that SOME leaders can’t be trusted to make choices that will lead to a “well done” (Matthew 25) from the Master in regards to presenting men and women “complete in Christ” (Colossians 1:28-29). Some leaders will absolutely hear that. What I’m actually saying is that not all leaders will hear “well done” and I’d rather err on the side of helping as many leaders as I can.