Category Archives: Small Group Leader Resources

The Best Small Group Curriculum

Over the past 35 years I have used lots of great books and curriculum in leading small groups and discipleship groups—some of them written by me. Thinking of all of the good material I have used, my favorite small group curriculum now is The Good & Beautiful God, by James Bryan Smith.goodnbeautiful

My friend small group author Greg Bowman commended the book to me several years ago. Based on Greg’s enthusiastic recommendation I picked up the book and started to read it. As I started into it for some reason I thought, “What’s so great about this?”, and I didn’t make it past the first chapter. Then last year our senior pastors, Hap & Di Leman, gave me and all of our senior leadership team a copy of the book and worked through it with us chapter by chapter over coffee on Wednesday mornings. The book thrilled me and was tremendously helpful in accelerating my spiritual journey.

More recently I went through the book with four other guys in a men’s discipleship group early on Wednesday mornings. The biblical principles in the book again were life changing for me and them. As one of the guys expressed, Read the rest of this entry

My Favorite Small Group Curriculum

My favorite small group curriculum right now, the one I find myself recommending over and over to small group leaders, is Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. I love it. It’s a six-session DVD curriculum on how to connect with God through simple spiritual disciplines.

There are two reasons I love it so much. First, the content is great. Barton makes spiritual practices so accessible and doable. She puts the cookies on a low shelf. In my opinion, the book is kind of a “Spiritual Disciplines for Dummies,” so to speak, which I really appreciate. The second reason I like the DVD curriculum so much is that it minimizes the length of the video segments and maximizes learning and practicing the disciplines. Each session has two short video segments—the first one is on the principles or disciplines themselves and is followed by discussion. The second segment explains how to do a discipline, and then you practice it.

The exercises work! People really encounter God, which is cool and moving.

There are actually three components to the curriculum. First, there is the DVD, which is great and costs just $31.99. Second, there is a “Participant’s Guide,” Read the rest of this entry

Simultaneously Expand Your Impact and Make Your Life Easier

If you are a ministry leader there is one thing that you can do that will both greatly increase your impact AND make your life easier. What is it? Raising up other leaders to your level.

Raising up other leaders lightens your load and multiplies your impact.

Although it tremendously eases our work load down the road, the reason why we often hesitate to invest in potential new leaders is because it increases the amount of our work this week. It’s easier right now to do things myself. It takes time to invest in others and involve them in ministry and leading. But if we don’t invest in potential leaders now, our work load will grow as our influence grows.

Jesus’ life demonstrates the power of investing time and attention in others. He poured his energy into a very unimpressive handful of people and through them changed the world. Are you following his example and strategically investing in future leaders?

You might be thinking, But how do I do this? What does this look like? Read the rest of this entry

Why Your Small Group Ministry Is Struggling (and What You Can Do About It)

If your church’s small group ministry is struggling, I think I know why. Based on 8 years as a full-time small group consultant, 12 years as a small group pastor, and statistical research involving the small group ministries over 200 churches, I see three key mistakes that cripple small group system growth. Do any of these apply to your church?

Problem #1: Not offering small group leader training often enough. The most common small group ministry mistake is not offering leader training frequently enough. Fortunately, this is a fairly easy problem to fix. Too many churches offer small group leader training only once or twice a year. Even in a small church, you should offer it at least three times a year. When you offer small group leader training, new leaders get trained and new groups can launch. (Blatant plug: ChurchSmart offers my excellent small group leader training DVDs for just $50.)

Problem #2: Not offering great small group leader team meetings. This problem takes two forms. First, some churches do not offer regular small group leader team meetings. Second, some churches offer them, but they are done wrong and few leaders come. You need to do great leader meetings at least quarterly. Read the rest of this entry

The Best Small Group Resource Ever

The Best Group Leader Resource Ever

I’m excited to be blogging again. I plan to blog one to three times a month about small groups, discipleship, and doing multicampus church—all of it so that more people can experience Jesus’ power and grace in life-changing ways.

Some of the entries will be about my favorite resources because I know small group leaders and pastors always want to find the best resources. Today I want to highlight what I consider the very best resource out there for small group leaders—The Serendipity Study Bible (SSB). The SSB contains great small group discussion questions for every chapter in the entire Bible. The questions are conveniently located in the Bible’s margins and are arranged in three categories (Open, Dig, and Apply) to progressively move people into the topic, into the passage, and then into applying the truths to their lives.

I want you to understand the best way to use the SSB and similar small group helps. Let’s say you are looking at today’s One Year Bible Psalm—which happens to be the very familiar Psalm 23—with your group. Here’s how I suggest you prepare.

First, pray for your group and your group meeting inviting God to do cool things that show how wonderful he is and that help people move forward in their walk with him. (Remember my research shows that time spent in prayer is much more important to your group’s health and growth than time spent preparing your study.)

Read the rest of this entry