Small groups tend to fall into one of two categories. Either they are quiet and speak only when asked, or they veer from the course so often that a bystander would never guess the original topic of conversation. Some groups even have members from both factions. Neither of these extremes is ideal for a Bible study or any other group activity. The cure to both sides of the spectrum is to know exactly what you should be talking about and steering the group in those directions.
However, many small group leaders are not entirely sure what a small group should be talking about. Here are five discussions that occur in a variety of forms in every healthy and inspired small group community.
1. The salient message behind the passages being studied.
The Bible is not merely a history book; every word is present for a reason. God is trying to convey very specific principles and concepts. Searching the Word for these salient truths is an important part of any small group. Don’t be afraid to dissect details and look at issues from a variety of perspectives. There are many layers of truth and inspiration to be found in every passage.
2. The future goals of the group.
Every small group – indeed, every gathering of Christians – should have a common goal. However, there is a good chance that every one of your members has a slightly different idea of the group’s purpose. Are you there to learn? To develop discipleship? To evangelize? The answer is likely to be a combination of these and other concepts. This subject should be actively discussed to develop a sense of meaning and purpose.
3. How the subject applies to modern events.
The world may be changing, but in so many ways it remains the same. We still struggle with immoral governments, injustice, and each one of the themes addressed throughout the Bible. Applying concepts from small group to the world around us allows us to develop a truly Biblical worldview and act as Christians in every avenue of our lives.
4. Events in members’ lives.
Small talk is not as small as most of us think. These little conversations build bonds that allow members to open up about larger and more meaningful issues. If your members are not bringing their triumphs, worries, and heartaches to the group, the group may need more bonding. Knowing what is going on in a fellow Christian’s life is important for a variety of reasons. First, you can support each other, providing encouragement or even gentle accountability where needed. Second, you have knowledge of where this person is coming from as they share their perspective on material. Last, you can offer up prayer for them. If you have trouble bonding, consider getting a program such as StudyChurch so people can have discussions outside of group study that get them more comfortable with personal sharing.
5. How the concepts in the Bible study can be applied to members’ lives.
This is where true discipleship begins. God’s Word never changes because people will always need the direction and inspiration. Applying the messages in each study to your own life and helping others to do the same is the ultimate purpose of any group Bible study. This is where you move beyond mere church and begin letting the Word shine in your daily life.
Encouraging these discussions in your own small group will raise the caliber of conversation and ensure that people get spiritually fed from their involvement in your community. If you are ready to take your small group from a church Bible study to a dynamic group of believers effecting real change, incorporate these discussions into every meeting.