Here are some ideas on how to begin a Coffee Break Group:
Pray. The first step in beginning a Bible discovery group is prayerful creativity. Ask God to show you a place to meet and people to join you.
List of potential participants. Think of family, friends, co-workers, fellow students, and neighbors with whom you want to share the Word of God. Remember that sometimes people you never thought would be interested may be prompted by the Holy Spirit to join you.
Decide on a time and place to meet. Once you have used prayerful creativity about whom to invite, turn your creativity to the time and place. The main criteria should be a convenient time and a place where conversation can easily take place. Groups can meet at all times of the day.
Experiment and Learn. Start small. Begin with a short study of 4 - 6 weeks. People tend to avoid trying things that feel like a lifelong commitment but are willing to try something that has a clear beginning, end, and manageable commitment. Then, learn from what took place. Ask the group what worked, what didn’t work and how the group could improve.
Here are some experiments that groups have tried:
- One church group reached working mothers at 3:30 in the afternoon when they arrived home for their school-age children. This 3:30-5:00 p.m. Coffee Break took advantage of a children’s music ministry that the church sponsored in that time slot. While older children participated in the music program, toddlers and infants were watched by available high school students.
- Another church provided a Bible discovery ministry in the evening. Many single moms attended this group. Dinner was also provided, and volunteers from the church supervised homework and tutored children while their moms discussed the Bible. An urban program in an inner-city neighborhood offered Bible discovery groups in both English and Spanish. Many young moms attended, and a lunch was provided by church volunteers three weeks out of each month; the women attending made lunch on the remaining weeks. Baby clothes and equipment were also donated.
- Another Bible discovery group met right after an early morning Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. This group was for anyone from AA who was interested in studying the Bible.
- Some ministries have a Bible discussion following some type of sporting activity. A Saturday morning venue reached men and women who were unavailable during weekdays.
Start with a special event. Some church programs offer a special activity as an entry point. A neutral event with a speaker or demonstration gives a person the chance to meet those who will attend the Bible discovery. They will also get a preview and be invited to come to the next meeting.
Promote. If you invite your community as a whole, make sure your promotion is clear and appeals to someone who is new to Bible study. State that no prior knowledge of the Bible is needed and that this is a basic study that will look at the contents of the Bible and explore Christianity. Be clear about the location and length of the study. Place any advertising — flyers, newspaper ads, etc. — where people you are trying to reach will see them. Laundromats, children’s consignment shops, grocery stores, and libraries often allow you post flyers. Include a phone number so that people can call for information. However, word of mouth works best. The most effective way to invite someone is by asking them personally.
Ask for help. Support is available if you are interested in knowing more about the Bible discovery method or the ministry of Coffee Break. Leading Bible Discovery is a free book for leaders and another great resource. See page 29 in Leading Bible Discovery for a more in-depth description of getting started. If you would like further coaching or training, Contact us at [email protected]. We will connect with you personally to answer your questions.