Search Site

Growth Groups in Small to Medium Congregations

As a parishioner, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to push the “Pause” button during a sermon if you have a question or need some clarification? As a preacher, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do the same in order to receive some instant feedback on how well people are connecting with your sermon?

While we recognize this kind of back-and-forth isn’t a normal part of our Sunday morning sermon, what if it could be in a different setting? While sermon-based studies are not the only way we do small group Bible studies, they are one way. We usually have three to four sermon-based studies a year, which allow for a number of benefits.

One benefit is that there is a certain unity and connectedness to having all of our groups work through the same material several times a year. This flexibility also frees participants to jump into another group if they miss theirs that week, since everyone is studying the same material. It provides a measure of training for small group facilitators and leaders, as they can attend a group or two prior to their own to become more familiar with the study material.

Books-Notebooks-StudyA sermon-based study also means that small group attendees aren’t required to be experts to participate—if they’ve heard the sermon, then they have something to contribute. This can appeal to those who may be hesitant to jump into a typical Bible study out of fear that they may be exposed as being not well-versed in the Scriptures.

As the sermon is extended throughout the week in small-group discussion, it opens the door to further study and application of points that may not have received as much attention in the sermon. A sermon is only able to take its main points so far due to time constraints. Small groups, however, are free to explore some of those points in greater detail and to spend additional time on how they might apply to day-to-day life.

Sermon-based studies are just one way to approach small group Bible study, but they have a lot to offer and are certainly worth considering.

Here are lessons used in a sermon-based study called “Faith Over Fear.”

Lesson 1 – Faith Obeys – Acts 5:12,17-32

Lesson 2 – Faith Sees – Acts 9:1-19a

Lesson 3 – Faith Follows – John 10:27-29

Lesson 4 – Faith Loves – 1 Samuel 20:12-17

Pastor Aaron Boehm serves as pastor at Shepherd of the Hills, La Mesa, Calif., and The Way, Rancho San Diego, Calif., and as second vice president of the Arizona- California District of the WELS.

Next time: What does an online Growth Group look like?