A 3-Step Guide to Choosing Your Small Group Study

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Think of a time when a book, video, conversation, or word of encouragement came at just the right time. How did this impact you?

Does the scenario below sound familiar?

Akinyi sat down across from Makena. She pushed a list of Discover Your Bible titles across the table. “Here are the studies that have 8 lessons.”

Makena glanced at the list. “Thank you for compiling that. How do these studies fit within the bigger picture?” 

“The bigger picture?” Akinyi queried. 

“Yes. We want to reach out to our community. Our community has gone through a lot of changes lately. We have had a lot of new people move into our neighborhood. They’ve started on a new season in life in this area. How can we keep them in mind as we choose? Who has said they will come to the group already? What do we know of their needs?” Makena responded. 

What criteria did Akinyi and Makena use? What did each consider? 

How do you think Makena’s observations might impact their selection of a study? 

Perhaps you are just beginning to use Discover Your Bible (DYB) studies in a Global Coffee Break (GCB) group. Or perhaps you have been using them for years. The question will always arise, “Which study?” 

1. Begin With Prayer 

Prayer is a part of our decision! The Holy Spirit searches the hearts and minds of the group members, and those who will be here. He knows what your group needs. Have there already been signs of his direction? How has he been working in your group members' lives? In your community? In your church? Is there a study that would align itself? 

Pause and thank our Triune God for his wisdom and his intimate knowledge of each member of your group, and those you do not yet know but will come. Ask him for his supervision over this process. 

2. Know Your Purpose 

An outreach Bible discovery group keeps their eye on their goal: reaching out, welcoming, building safety. Groups can choose studies based on who they hope will come. What are their questions and needs?  However, this does not mean that one sticks to “easy” books of the Bible. Sometimes, people may think some books of the Bible are “harder” than others. There is a certain truth to that. Some books of the Bible draw on prior biblical knowledge to a greater extent. Others include genres that are very distinct from what we are familiar with. However, each biblical book has an important message. DYB studies (especially the newer) are designed specifically to help the leader adapt for newcomers and provide information to make the book accessible to all. Each study draws points of relevance for application and guides the leader in contextualizing. Each study points to the gospel, from Genesis to Esther to Revelation. 

The following may be helpful questions as you consider which study to choose. 

Who: 

  • Whom are you trying to reach out to? Who do you hope will come to your group? 

  • Who comes to your group?

Context: 

  • What is going on in your community? Is there a book of the Bible or thematic study that would intersect with some of the concerns and questions from the community? 

  • What is your church or faith community studying? Can a DYB study enhance the sermon series? 

Goals and Needs:

  • What are your group’s goals? Needs? 

  • What would bring energy and excitement? 

  • Is there material that an apprentice/emerging leader would be eager to or more willing to participate with? How can you use the upcoming study to grow others? 

Rhythm:

  • Do you have a good balance of Old Testament, New Testament, and thematic books? 

  • What is your schedule? While important, this is not the most important question. Many times, a group can go through a lesson slower, or use standalone lessons (there are some freely available at GlobalCoffeeBreak.org in our store) to adapt a study to their schedule. 

Are there other questions or criteria you would add? Why? 

Are there books of the Bible you have been hesitant to use in an outreach Bible study? Why or why not? 

Returning to the story of Akinyi and Makena, would you add anything to Makena’s advice? 

3. Fresh Eyes 

Groups that have had consistent attendance for years often find going through a study they did years ago refreshing. The leader may be able to go deeper. If there are any newcomers in the group, their new eyes will bring fresh insight to all. People’s lives have changed; it can be rewarding to see how the Spirit has shaped each one during the years that have passed. 

How will you and your team use this guide? 

Put together a specific plan: Who will meet to choose? When? 

How will you include prayer? 

DYB is actively writing new materials, and revising old studies. Our materials are for groups all over the world, and we are committed to writing them in diverse groups. If you are interested in joining a writing team, please reach out and contact [email protected] for more training. 

You can visit www.GlobalCoffeeBreak.org/series to see a list of current studies.

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