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Roundtable: Circle Your ChairsMost churches have small groups; it's a way to make the big church small, encourage authenticity and accountability, and dig deeper into the Word and each others' lives. But we've all been in small groups that were, um, lacking. What makes a good small group? How do you maximize your small group experience? And are small groups or Bible studies truly necessary within the church? Culture: Making DisciplesPastor Randy Pope is serious about making disciples. So serious, that he's determined for his church to be defined by it. As the author of INsourcing, Randy outlines the reasons and ways to bring discipleship back to the local church in a way that will multiply converts, grow believers and add life and purpose to a everything that happens there. Inbox: College CurriculumA group of college students needs small group study ideas. There's so much out there; how do you decide? Focus' Kathy DeMattee gives some general principles and a specific recommendation.
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--I've never joined a small group at my church but I was a member of a small group bible study at my university which was an amazingly good faith-growing experience.
--"And are small groups or Bible studies truly necessary within the church?"
Yes! I think they both serve a purpose. I've been in some groups where there wasn't a traditional "Bible study" but more of a time where the leader shared from scripture, and there was an opportunity for discussion and application. And, there was a short time for worship and prayer. Some evenings the focus might be more on prayer or worship, and there wouldn't be a "teaching" time.
As an adult, I have been able to be a part of two incredible small groups. The other two groups, "...were, um, lacking." What made two of the groups of which I was a member great was the Lord's blessing, good leadership by a person or people who were truly pursuing God- including reading the Bible, the members of the group were committed to growing in faith, and they were committed to growing together.
I think there is a place for both small groups and traditional Bible studies in the life of a church. With the Bible study at my church we have an hour of teaching/discussion and an hour long DVD. That's already two hours. Therefore, there's not a lot of time remaining for discussing people's past week (though we do distribute prayer requests via email) or worshiping with more than a song or two (if a song at all).
I've found that the small group setting is a great place for worshiping through song, enjoying a meal together, encouraging one another with God's Word, and having the ability to candidly share prayer requests, and spend extended time in prayer.
One thing I love is my church started incorporating (about eight years ago) "Discipleship Groups" as part of the small group structure. So, many of my church's small groups will meet twice a month with usually same-gender "D-Groups" (of about 3-4 people from that same small group) meeting on the opposite weeks. I think it's a wonderful opportunity for accountability and more personal discipleship.
Thank you for interviewing Randy Pope. Several of the podcasts this year have been timely for me. Three days before this podcast aired, during a lunch break, a co-worker saw me writing in a notebook (one I use for Bible study), and she asked what I was studying, She said she has been a Christian for a little while, but that she doesn't know much about God or the Bible. After we talked for a little while, she asked me if I'd teach the Bible to her. Well, I love God, His Word, and His people, and I was so excited to find out she wants to learn more (I still am). But, I refrained from reaching across the table, giving her a huge hug, and saying, "I would love to do so!" Instead, I tempered my excitement. :) She is a newer believer, goes to church sometimes with her husband, and she said she's never owned a Bible. All she had was a Bible app on her phone. She wanted to know how much Bibles cost. She said she wanted one, but that she and her husband don't have a lot of money right now. I just so happened to have an extra study Bible (still in its packaging wrapper) on a bookshelf at my house. I gave her that, and I've been answering her questions about basic Christian doctrine. Also, I have encouraged her to get more involved at her church or come and visit the one where I am a member.
We began our study of the Gospel of John this past Monday. I look forward to what God has in store for her, and for me, as we progress on this discipleship journey.
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