by Austin Maxheimer
At our church we have encouraged all of our small groups and Sunday teams to engage with the Sunday message as the content for their group discussion. We want all of our people to be active participants in the mission and message of the Church, and the best way to see the message side happen for groups is to follow along with what is delivered Sunday mornings. Here are seven reasons why:
1. Creates Relevancy. No matter what small group study you choose, you’ll leave somebody out.If you are doing a study on being a Godly parent, your group is automatically irrelevant to anyone without kids. However, everyone is in on the Sunday teaching. It’s a shared experience. It just happened a few days ago. Doesn’t get much more relevant than that.
2. Creates Connection Points. One of the catch phrases associated with small groups is “natural and inviting.” I guess it depends on your perspective. If you go to a group for the first time and they are four weeks into a nine-week study, it is a guarantee your time there will not feel too natural or inviting. Following along with Sunday content allows for seamless entry points and connection, especially for people who are still exploring church or faith.
3. Creates Conversation. Whenever we have linked up Sunday mornings with daily Bible readings and group time, there is a buzz in and around our church. It seems like everyone is talking about the same thing. Conversations spring up everywhere in very organic ways. This is HUGE!! In a time and place where it feels taboo to talk about things of God outside the church building, any help we can give our people in having conversations about matters of faith will make it easier to communicate the Gospel.
4. Creates Alignment. Silos seem to be the norm in most churches.If the goal is unity of the church body and movement, it is imperative to all be going in the same direction. Whether you are in children’s ministry, guest services, a student leader, or a small-group member…the best way to make sure you are a united church body is to all be covering and talking about the same thing.
5. Creates Actual Knowledge. Larry Osborne in Sticky Church says that actual knowledge occurs through four moves: (1) Inspiration (2) Familiarity (3) Boredom (4) Knowledge. What do you remember about the sermon last week? Maybe a vague sense of inspiration? Hopefully at least some familiarity? Retaining teaching takes repetition. By reinforcing the message through groups, it is possible to move the ideas and concepts presented into actual knowledge.
6. Creates Momentum. As the snowball travels downhill,it becomes an avalanche. When people are connecting to the message, seeing its relevance, having conversations, headed in the same direction, and retaining knowledge to the point it becomes action—well, that is some momentum!
7. Creates Genuine Engagement. Osborne also says that he noticed people listened better, took notes,and were more focused on Sunday mornings. Wouldn’t your lead pastor like that?! This happened because they knew they were going to get the opportunity to discuss it and share insights. Furthermore, it pushes people to the Bible more even outside of what is taught on Sundays. People take ownership of the message and show more overall engagement. And that has to be the goal, because the Good News of Jesus Christ is worthy of our best engagement.
If you want a lengthier discussion on the benefits and reasoning behind what North Coast Church calls sermon-based small groups, read Sticky Church by Larry Osborne.