Study guides for small groups abound. Nearly every Bible bookstore has a proliferation of titles from which to choose. How do you select suitable curriculum?
First, consider the needs and interests of your group. When a group first comes together, the facilitator may offer a choice of three different styles of study guides. Group members can then indicate their interests and confess any qualms they might have.
Since the primary task of small groups is to be caring and relational, a beginning group should use the same study guide for its first six weeks. A guide such as Serendipity's All Aboard systematically leads the group in building close ties. After a sense of bonding and relationship has occurred, the group will be better equipped to choose a Bible study with the facilitator's help.
Second, check the format of the book. Is the cover attractive? Is the layout of the book simple and spaced to provide room for writing? Other things to consider are: How many questions per chapter are there? (No more than twelve questions is best.) Are brief background notes included in each chapter?
Third, evaluate the contents of the book. Look at how each chapter begins. Some of the best study guides provide a nonthreatening, relationship-building question before the biblical text is explored. Ideally, the question provides a springboard into the verses being considered.
Next examine the questions. They should be clear and concise. There should be a balance between the three types of inductive questions: observation, interpretation, and application.
Be aware of doctrinal issues. Check the way questions are phrased. Probably no study guide will agree 100 percent with your church's doctrinal position, so know what to look for and be ready to ...