Note: This article has been excerpted from the SmallGroups.com training tool called Sermon-Based Small Groups.
At North Coast Church, where I serve as senior pastor, we've had a long and interesting journey with small groups. We had no groups when we first started out. But after a while, I began to realize that our congregation was more of a crowd than a living, breathing community. So we launched small groups, and things began to change immediately.
For a number of years we hunted down the best curriculum available and provided it to our groups. They grew, and people's lives did change. But when I put together a sermon series called "The Company of the Committed"—in which I wanted to paint the picture of what a committed Christian lifestyle would look like on a day-to-day basis—we experimented with our first sermon-based groups. The response was off the charts. It was so positive that we never looked back.
Over the years, I've noticed that tying the study guide to the sermon has several advantages over a curriculum-based model. Here are seven of the most powerful advantages.
They Increase the Educational Impact
A number of years ago, I heard about a study that Harvard conducted for one of the military branches. Apparently the military was sending people to different conferences and training sessions, and they wanted to maximize the educational impact of those sessions by figuring out what helps people learn—and most importantly, retain and apply—the information they receive.Â
Some of the best minds at Harvard tackled this study, and they uncovered three ways to maximize the benefit of any training experience. The first was maintaining a high sense of expectation. The study showed that if people went ...