- Asking groups to handle the burden for their own curriculum can also become financially troublesome for the individuals within those groups. The Bible studies available for purchase through Christian book stores or online marketplaces can sometimes be expensive—especially if those studies include video elements. When you consider that many groups go through between 6–10 studies within a year, that’s a lot to purchase!
- Finally, there may be circumstances in which groups or group leaders make a poor choice regarding the curriculum they study. Even among professionally produced curriculum, there are some studies out there that are theologically questionable or practically confusing—or both. Allowing groups to choose their own study material without any oversight from the church may result in the group studying something that is harmful rather than helpful.
How to Choose?
There’s good and bad news when it comes to deciding which curriculum approach is right for your church. First the bad news: there are no easy answers. There is no scorecard you can use to say, “If we are in this situation, we should automatically use this curriculum.” Each church is different.
But here’s the good news: you can use the following questions to help think through the choice between sermon-based curriculum and an a la carte option for groups:
- Have we received complaints about our current system for choosing or assigning Bible studies?
- Have we received any compliments connected with our current system of selecting Bible studies?
- Does our church have the resources necessary to implement a sermon-based approach?
- Do we desire to have a greater level of control over what content our groups and groups members encounter in their gatherings?
- Would our congregation benefit from a season of increased unity and focus?
- Have our group leaders expressed a desire for more control over what they study in their groups?
—Sam O'Neal is the author of Field Guide for Small Group Leaders and an editorial advisor for SmallGroups.com.