Start a Group Strong by Answering Why? Who? and What? First
One of the first questions you will answer as your group begins to meet is why the group exists. This is a great conversation to have because you’ll discover the expectations people have as they describe why they need a group. As a leader, you can reinforce their expectations or even redirect their expectations when appropriate, so that your group starts with a common understanding of why the group exists. Many groups form a group covenant as a part of this conversation. A covenant is a document that answers two questions: 1. What do you hope to get out of the group? and 2. What commitments are required for us to get what we want and need out of the group? Keep it simple, but make sure to cover issues like: attendance, preparation, confidentiality, etc.
After you answer the “why” questions, you will turn to the “who” questions. “Who” questions center on how many people should be in the group and the group make-up itself. I have found groups of 10 to 12 people tend to work best with 12 being the max and six being minimum. With more than 12, group members never get to talk; less than six, and there aren’t enough options for individuals to talk to. Once you know how many people you’re going to have in the group, decide who should be a part of the group.
This is where you need to think through if the group is for couples, men only, women only, or a blend of all three. (Note: I prefer gender-based groups, meaning guys meet with only guys, women meet with only women, or couples meet with other couples because of the intimacy level that can be developed in the groups. People need a place to be real, and I believe these targeted groups provide the best environment for this. You will need to determine what works best for the structure of your ministry and the individuals in your groups.)
Once you know why and who, you will need to choose “what” you will study. There are three things you need to remember when choosing a study: studies should be relational in nature, doctrinally accurate, and application oriented. Looking for these three qualities in your resources will ensure that your group is growing together as a result of the study.
This is part of Mike Hurt’s tips series, How to Lead a Successful Discussion-Driven Bible Study.
About the Author
Mike Hurt is the senior pastor of Parkway Church in Victoria, Texas. A leading thinker and trainer in small group ministry, Mike is passionate about finding ways to reach people who don’t know Christ and to see those who do know Christ connect in authentic biblical community. Before pastoring Parkway, Mike was a senior leader at McLean Bible Church and Frontline where he led the Small Group Ministry. He also led MBC to become a multi-site church with six campuses.