It’s Not About the Curriculum

December 17, 2009 - Mac Lake - Small Group Leadership

It’s that time of year again when small group leaders are starting to think about next semester of groups and ask that old familar question: What’s a good curriculum I can use?  Now the funny thing is there have been times I’ve shared my top curriculum choice with someone only to have them say, “Yea, I tried that one and it didn’t work for me.”

Everyone is looking for that “perfect” curriculum. But the truth is it’s not about the curriculum, its about the conversation. In small groups the leaders objective is to engage group members in meaningful conversation about their spiritual walk.  Admittedly some curriculums are better than others, but a great small group leader can take a bad curriculum and still generate great conversation. 

Here are a few keys to remember regardless of the curriculum you use…

  • Prepare in advance.  This doesn’t mean an hour or two in advance.  Begin 4-5 days before your next group session to look at the passage or topic that will be discussed during your next group meeting. By looking at the study early it allows you to get the key thought in your mind so the Holy Spirit can begin to speak to you about that subject over a period of days rather than in the last hour.
  • Learn to ask good questions.  I’ve never found a curriculum where I used every  single question exactly as it was written.  It’s okay to rewrite some of the questions to fit your style and to fit the personality of your group.  Here are four questions I ask about questions to see if they are usable.
    • Is it clear?
    • Is it conversational?
    • Is it challenging?
    • Is it concise? (Only one question rather than 2-3 questions in one)
  • Make sure you are growing.  As the leader if you share how God has spoken to you on the subject or through the passage others will tend to open up and share from their lives as well.  I like to remind new group leaders, “Growing people grow people.”
  • Help group members put the lesson into action.  If we help our small group members simply fill their heads with theory and truths but never challenge them to put the lessons into action then life change will not take place.  Challenge your small group members to come up with specific application from each session.  Or perhaps, choose a project that will help the entire group put the lesson into practice.

What are other keys to generating engaging spiritual conversations in small groups?

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Mac Lake


My passion is multiplying multipliers

2 responses to It’s Not About the Curriculum

  1. Great insight and equally great reminder Mac! Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom, and a Very Blessed & Joyous Merry Christmas.

  2. I agree that a small group is not about the curriculum, but I’d argue it’s not even just about the conversation. It’s really about Christ in the midst. A healthy group meets around His presence, power, and purposes. The question usually asked is “What should we study next?” when we ought to be asking, “Where is God leading us? What does he want us to do?” I’ve been blogging on this too. See especially my post on “Tootsie Pop Small Groups.”

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