You've got a small group that's ready to do something new and different. "We want something interesting, fun, life-changing!" (No pressure there, right?) Church leaders give you the green light to embark on a new study (pending their approval, of course). Do you:
- Instinctively reach for that hot new book or study guide that you've been dying to dig into?
- Go to the Christian bookstore and stare dumbfounded at the myriad of options available?
- Pray you can avoid an uncivil war between the Saddlebackians, Serendipity devotees, and the Willow Creek-ites in your group?
- Pull out the old "sermon notes" you scribbled as a college freshman while listening to Biff Buffington, that incredible conference speaker?
Before you panic (or do a bad impersonation of Biff), realize this: Picking a new study topic doesn't have to be a big deal or an unpleasant ordeal. And it can be another opportunity to build group unity.
One way to generate more enthusiasm for possible new small group curriculum is to simply poll your group and get a feel for where they are struggling or are hungry to grow.
We have often used general surveys like the following (NOTE: For churches just beginning small group ministries, or those beginning a new "cycle" of groups, such a survey can help you form groups by similar interest):
Areas in which I want to grow or gain understanding (check the five topics that interest you most)
Understand you will not get a consensus for just one topic. Instead you'll likely uncover a real hunger for several topics. Make a longer-term schedule. Take the top three or four sought-after subjects, one at a time.
Once you've determined your study focus, talk with someone knowledgeable about "in-print" study materials on the market (i.e. a bookstore ...