The importance of small group discipleship within the local church is irreplaceable. May we approach the task of leading our small groups with the heart of Ezra.
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel (Ezra 7.10).
As we teach and lead in the small group setting, we all approach our tasks with different strengths and weaknesses. You might feel that your content is great, but you struggle with delivery or engaging your audience. Or, you may be the exact opposite, you may feel that you have great audience engagement, but you lessons could use better content. Let’s talk about 3 key building blocks for balanced small group instruction.
Information, in my opinion, is the key ingredient. As knowledge of God grows, the heart grows in its love for God. In other words, theology should result in changed lives – more love for God, more worship of God, more living for God.
Caution: Good, solid, biblical information, for many people is like spinach. They know it’s good for them, but they don’t particularly like eating it all the time.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. . . . For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Tim. 2:15; 4:3-4).
The goal of the information we present to our small groups should be lives growing in the knowledge of God and the love of God and His Kingdom work.
Application of biblical teaching is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. In other words, now that I have this information, what do I do with it? As we prepare our presentations, we should constantly be asking ourselves, How does the Bible passage, or verse, affect my life?”
Our aim, as small group leaders, should be to make our listeners understand that the Bible is a viable resource to help people in their daily lives.
Caution: Application without information makes God’s Word subjective. Our application should flow from the passage, or verses, we’re using and be connected to a proper understanding of those verses.
Although you might not recognize it, this is often the most difficult aspect of teaching within a small group. And you may consider this to be the least important goal for your small group meeting, but great discussion around Scripture is worthwhile and beneficial. It can clarify biblical understanding as others may have insights into the verses that you may not have had as the teacher. It helps analyze the text from different perspectives. Good discussion also can aid in how the text is applied to the lives of the group. It also builds fellowship within the group as lives and struggles are shared with each other.
One of the easiest ways to promote discussion is to ask open ended questions throughout the teaching. PRO TIP: Do not answer your own questions. Rephrase them for clarification, but do not answer them. Eventually, the silence will get awkward and someone will speak.