Small Group Study Series
A Journey Through Acts: Rediscovering the Church and Reawakening Christian life
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Session 1 - Even if you don't need a study on Acts, the "Statements Activity" in this session can be adapted to all sorts of topics.
This is the current small group study my husband and I are running with our own Small Group at the moment. No one study we found was exactly what we wanted - they all seemed to much reading comprehension, and didn't have enough life. So we decided to make our own.
We wanted to explore Acts, the beginning of the Church, look at how we have to come to the church as we know it, whether we have lost what it really means to be the Church as the Body of Christ, and hopefully reawaken a passion for living life with Jesus.
Feel free to use our notes and resources to inspire your own. You can use it as is, or just take bits and pieces as you come up with your own study, because we know other people's resources don't always work for individual groups.
We will post more Sessions as we go, as we haven't written or decided on everything yet. We are progressing, we pray, as the Spirit leads us!
General Small Group Leading Tips:
My husband and I have become the unofficial leaders of our Small Group, not necessarily because we planned it that way, but because our particular giftings seem to make us most suited in our group. We are both teachers by trade, so it comes fairly naturally to us to plan and teach 'lessons'.
But we started our small group as just a gathering of our friends, realising we all had a faith, but weren't really living it or sharing like we wanted to. It's not the same as a classroom. And we are just learning how to really listen to where God wants to lead us.
So we are by no means experts, but I'm all about the ordinary person here. So these are the resources and tips we have found in our short time of doing this. We hope it helps you. If you have anything to add, please comment or email us.
- Open with Prayer. We don't always do this, but we know we should! God is present in the room when we meet. If we don't pray and talk to Him, it's kind of like if we talked about a friend who was sitting right beside us all night, but never actually acknowledged they were there! God wants to lead and contribute to our conversations!
- Challenge Passivity. This doesn't mean putting people on the spot and making them uncomfortable, but you can gently challenge passivity through the way you structure the group. You might have a group who is naturally good and jumping in and discussing things, but maybe not. You'll probably need to work at not letting people get into a comfortable rut, and just letting you do all the talking.
- Vary your activities. Don't use the exact same structure every time. (In session 1 above, we got everyone to their feet in the Statements Activity, and having to physically take a position seemed to help people also verbalise their mental position on various topics.)
- Ask open, sometimes leading questions, not just 'reading comprehension'.
- Encourage personal application. Don't let the discussion just skim the surface and make only generalisations. If there is too much "Christians do this..." or "Sometime people struggle with things like...", redirect with more personal questions. "Have you experienced this?" or "How do you respond to this?" You can encourage this by sharing yourself, but don't let it stop with you.
- Create your own materials. There are some really great resources out there, so by all means find things that suit you, but if you are finding that group is not responding well to sitting in front of a DVD or writing answers in a book, then you might need to develop your own to really tailor it to your group. Use other materials for inspiration if you don't think you know how to do this, but don't feel you have to follow them word for word.
- Make Prayer a priority. Don't just use the 5 minutes left over to say a quick prayer before you all go home or have a coffee. I'm recommending this as a current work in progress for our group, not because I think we've got it right. But shouldn't we be making talking to and hearing from God a massive part of what we are doing?
- Vary your prayer - sometimes you might want to have a list of prayer requests that gets passed around, to help people remember specifics and to give ideas for people who get stuck. Sometimes have open prayer where people jump in as they want. Have purposeful times of silence, where people pray individually or just listen to God. Sometimes just praise God for who He is.
- Keep a group prayer journal. Consider recording prayers and answers to prayers as group. Create an expectation that God really does answer prayers. Recording this helps, as we can easily forget how often God responds.
Their our main pointers so far. I'll add more if I think of them, or if you have any tips of your own, comment away! :)