Group in the sun


The summer season is here, and that grants churches an opportunity to try something new and offer different types of small group gatherings. While most churches will want to continue their Bible study options during primary small group times, some may seek to take advantage of increased flexibility to offer something else during other times.

Perhaps on Sunday or Wednesday night, traditional times for congregations to meet, churches can offer non-traditional classes and groups that may draw in more people or at the very least provide more options for those who want to grow spiritually during the summer months.

Book study. Bible study can be as simple as picking a book and discussing it with others. But, study opportunities can also introduce members to quality Christian thinkers who minister in another part of the world or who lived long ago. Choose books that will challenge people to think more deeply about their faith and that are accessible to readers in your congregation.

Theology. Church leaders often assume people in the pews know more theology than they actually do. People have theological ideas, but they may need help understanding what a church believes and how doctrines fit together. Have someone teach through your church’s or denomination’s statement of beliefs. Educate churchgoers on what you believe and why you believe it.

Acts of service. Plan for a group of people come together every Wednesday evening and go out to serve people in your community. Contact all the homes around your church and ask them if they have any immediate needs like lawncare, small home repairs, etc. Work with those families to set up times for your teams to go out and serve. See what kind of impact you can make on your neighbors.

Marriage. Demonstrate a commitment to marriage by offering a class that helps couples recognize their relationship is a reflection of Christ and the church. Recruit a respected couple to lead a discussion on what participants have learned through their marriage. Have them work through a book like Tim Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage,” or provide them with a video course to help generate conversation.

Parenting. Offer a class on parenting. Leverage resources provided by others, such as “Christ-Centered Parenting: Gospel Conversations on Complex Cultural Issues.” Or, ask experienced parents within your own congregation to lead a group. Use the class to educate, encourage and empower parents in your church.

Visitation. Instead of having everyone stay within the walls of the church, send some out. A visitation group could spend time with church members who are shut-ins, follow up with recent Sunday morning visitors or invite people in the community to church services or upcoming events like VBS.

Evangelism. Before you send a team out to visit, train them and others in the church on how to share their faith. Lifeway Research found more than half of churchgoers say they have not shared the Gospel with anyone in the past six months. Train and encourage them with a class on evangelism. Consider using a resource like “Turning Everyday Conversations Into Gospel Conversations.”

Worldview training. Help churchgoers know the basics of what Islam teaches or the differences between Mormonism and historic Christianity. They might benefit from being able to recognize tenets of secularism. Perhaps a worldviews and religions class would be useful. Work through the “CSB Worldview Study Bible” or use a study like “Help My Unbelief.”

Issue-driven. Look around your congregation and community. What is on the hearts and minds of the people? What issue is dominating water cooler conversations at work? Offer a one-time presentation or ongoing class focused on that topic.

Apologetics. Many Christians struggle with spiritual doubts at various stages of life. Provide a class that helps them find answers to their questions and equips them to answer the questions of their non-Christian friends. Use a classic book like C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity,” a modern book like Keller’s “The Reason for God,” or use the articles from the “CSB Apologetics Study Bible.”

Prayer. Many churches have traditionally had Wednesday prayer services. Those can still have value, but some members of your congregation may benefit from a different approach. Have someone spend half the class teaching about a prayer-related subject then use the other half praying about it. Use the class to pray over needs submitted to the church.

Guest lectures. Maybe your church is in an area or context where you could bring in quality guest lecturers on relevant and interesting topics. Your church can benefit from hearing outside voices speaking to important issues related to their faith.

Missions. Use the opportunity to help your congregation learn more about missions, missionaries, and the ways your church supports taking the Gospel to the nations. If you know any retired missionaries or ones who are back in the U.S. temporarily, invite them to come talk about their work and how God is moving globally.

Mentor meetings. Finding the time to meet, can be one of the most difficult things for one-on-one discipleship. Leverage times when people may be coming to church already for mentorship opportunities. Pair up people and provide them the time to encourage each other in Christ.


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