The Experiment: Switching up our Small Group Strategy

framework-new We’re experimenting with a pretty big transition in our student ministry. I believe this major experiment just may tighten up our relationships, put more of an emphasis on preaching during Wednesday nights, help our students to understand how to apply the Word, equip our students to discuss the Word more, allow our adult leaders more opportunities to mentor their small groups, and integrate the discipleship process in our entire student ministry. Now that is killing a whole flock of birds with one stone!

What is this big experiment that may accomplish so much? Well, its always been a dream and passion of mine to teach teens twice week: one time on biblical theology (how the storyline of Scripture from Genesis – Revelation points to Christ), and one time on systematic theology (how the framework of doctrine points to Christ). Well, I’m thinking that may be a little much. After hearing so much great feed back on Wednesday nights for our Storyline series and not hearing as much from Sunday morning for our Framework series, I’m willing to experiment with changing up our Sunday morning Sunday school small groups. I’m willing to try to change them from a pure systematic class (which really isn’t much opportunity for pure small groups), and transition them to a more pure model of small groups which would be led by adult leaders who facilitate questions based on the preaching that week.

What is it going to look like? On Sunday morning we will give the students a reading plan broken down to read certain sections of the Scriptures for that week (for example: Joshua 23-24). The students will read that passage in different sections from Sunday – Saturday. On Wednesday night that week I will preach through that section of Scripture and explain the storyline of the passage, how it fits into the macro-biblical storyline, point it to Christ, and apply it to their lives. Then on the next Sunday, the students will go to their small groups (ordered by grade and gender), and they will discuss together what they read and what they learned from the Wednesday evening sermon. Then the students will be give the passage break down for the next week.

Like what I said above, I really think this will integrate our entire student ministry. The students will be able to do their devotions all week in the same passages, the students will get to hear a sermon on the same passages, and the students will get to discuss together in small groups on the same passages. It’s a very integrative approach. And the most exciting thing is that as we’re taking them through the whole Bible in 6 years: they’ll be reading it, hearing preaching on it, and discussing it…the whole thing!

Also, I really believe that this will give them the right questions to constantly be thinking about and asking themselves as they read their Bibles, hear preaching, and get into conversations with people. The same three questions they’ll be given in their small group discussions will be: what happened in the story, how does it point us to Jesus, and how does it change our lives?

In all honesty, the current way (systematic theology) we do Sunday school now is awesome for teaching doctrine, but its absolutely pitiful for small groups. Our church’s discipleship process is “coaching, community, and commission.” Coaching is our preaching and teaching, Community is our small groups, and Commission is our serving and ministries. This new set-up will definitely enhance our community! It will give our students a chance to just kick back, enjoy the relationships, have something very common to talk about, let the discussion lead into honesty about their lives, make guests feel more comfortable and not intimidated with the material, and our leaders will be prepared better. I’m praying it really will make a huge difference for the glory of Jesus here!

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