A small group gathers in a living room, study guides on their laps, and discusses the first question in a lesson. A few minutes later, the leader grabs the remote and pushes play.
The group turns their attention to the screen, and watches an eight-minute video sermon. Then the leader turns back to the study guide and reads a question about what was just presented via video. The group digs into the Scripture passage quoted by the teacher, which is printed out in their study guides, discusses the teaching they heard, and responds to questions that help them apply the lesson to their lives.
This scenario is becoming more and more normative as small groups across geographic, denominational, and other lines turn to video curriculum to build small-group ministries.
Video curriculum is gaining popularity. We live in a culture that communicates with photos and videos. It’s part of our everyday lives, whether we're attending a meeting via Skype, watching a how-to video or TED talk, or just giving in to the time wasting indulgence of watching one of those cute cat videos that invade our Facebook feed.
According to the YouTube website statistics, more than 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on the popular site. To make sense of that number, they explain “that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth.”
Christians use this popular medium to communicate as well. LifeChurch.tv, led by Pastor Craig Groeschel, gathers in buildings and also online. Thousands of people attend LifeChurch simply by tuning in.
Hundreds of multi-site churches across the country send live video feed of their services from a central location to satellite churches. People are comfortable not only with video, but with watching sermons via video.
We not only watch videos—we create them. By pushing a few buttons on our smart phones, we can record whatever is in front of us. And we do. And we share it with the world. In fact, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
People are looking not just for entertainment or cute puppy videos. More and more, people are looking for instructional videos. As the millennial generation begins to have kids of their own, they search for videos with parenting advice in numbers that are growing exponentially. Business leaders, pastors, and other influencers sometimes look to TED talks and other short lecture segments for inspiration and advice. Thousands of sermons are available online. Online learning is a fast-growing segment of higher education, enabling students to earn degrees without ever entering a classroom. As a culture, we are more comfortable with video communication than ever before.
Types of Studies
You can introduce video curriculum to your small-group ministry in a variety of ways. There are plenty of off-the-shelf studies you can buy at a local bookstore or your favorite online retailer. You may also choose to have volunteers or staff at your church create your own study. Or you can hire an outside production company to create a custom study for you.
Pre-fabricated video Bible studies vary widely. For decades, women’s ministry groups have used video studies from teachers like Beth Moore and Kay Arthur. These “off-the-shelf” video studies are popular for many reasons. Because of their long track record, a ministry organizer knows exactly what he or she is getting. They know whether the teaching will align with their church, and they know the quality of the presentation and the professionalism of the product. They can pretty much count on getting what they expect. And some of the more popular teachers have their own fan base. Offer one of these popular studies, and you're guaranteed to have participants.