Leading Dynamic Discussions:
How to Keep Your Group on the Edge of Their Seats 2
What Type Of Study Will Meet Your Goal?
What is your primary goal in leading a study? Regardless of the type of study, my goal is always to help each member to become more mature in Christ.
It’s important to choose material for your small group that will help you accomplish your goals. There are hundreds of choices, so the key is for you to know your goals and select accordingly. Here are some of the many options:
Whenever possible, study the bible, whether directly or through a published study. If you have people with a teacher gift in your group, you might want them to develop material. Otherwise, look for a published study.
A bible study can be a book study (straight through a book or section of the bible) or topical (selecting pertinent verses from throughout the bible to study a topic). Both can be effective and useful depending on your goal. Just make sure that a topical study is sound and doesn’t just proof-text to prove a pre-determined position. Both types of studies should be inductive, allowing the biblical text to direct the conclusion rather than looking for it to prove your conclusion.
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of Christian books published every year. Many of these come with a study guide that is either separate or in the book. These can range anywhere from terrible to terrific. The key is to select a book that is strongly based on the bible. Again, these can be either book-based or topical, but their foundation should be God’s word rather than man’s.
Book studies are often preferred by both lay leaders and participants because they are easier to understand and require far less preparation for both leaders and participants. In some ways, they are predigested food but they do offer an accessible study. I tend to use these sparingly and only if related to a topic that would require more research then a lay leader has time to do.
Tough Questions or Seeker-Oriented:
There is a genre of books known as tough questions or seeker-oriented books. These address the challenging or controversial questions that often provide obstacles to pre-believers. They often provide biblically based answers, helping the lay leader to be able to address such challenges. For example, they might address the problem of suffering and evil, creation and evolution, or social justice questions. These books are especially useful for a group composed primarily of seekers with a fairly skilled leader.
Once you’ve selected your study, it’s time to Create A Climate for Growth.