Last year, 2018 brought a handful of significant changes to the small group ministry at Good News Church (St. Augustine, FL). One of those changes was providing our church body with materials to interact with throughout the week. While Sunday worship is clearly an important aspect of our walk with Christ, it is critical we as churches continue to find ways to engage members during the work week. To that extent, we created a document called, “The Study,” a 56-page booklet designed completely in-house. Our Pastor for Leadership Development, Dave Aucremann, creates the content; staff members and a Gospel Partner edit and revise content; and our Communications Director, Holly Sipprell, designs the layout and sends it to be published. The finished product is a polished and professional looking journal-sized document.
Each Study, which covers four weeks' worth of messages, is broken into three parts:
1.) Personal Study: We provide a guided reading plan through a book of the Bible and ask our members to read, pray, and share the Word.
2.) Small Group Discussion Cue: Our small group discussions are message-based, but in addition to questions about the message, we also include an ice-breaker and questions about our personal time in the Word.
3.) Reach section: This area provides coaching on how to spark gospel conversations in everyday situations.
The feedback to The Study has been overwhelmingly positive. Some of the encouraging feedback we have gotten includes but is not limited to the following:
1.) The Study, sleek in look, has become a conversation piece out in public and a way to invite people to a church service.
2.) The personal study section has allowed our small groups to keep in more regular contact throughout the week, often exchanging group texts about the reading.
3.) Members who travel during the week feel more connected. (The Study is also posted in PDF format on our website.)
4.) A level of accountability nearly always motivates people. In this way, The Study has effectively become a workout partner. To illustrate this, some of our new believers stated that this was the first time they had ever read an entire book of the Bible. Additionally, some members who had fallen out of the habit of reading the Word were motivated by The Study to restart that discipline.
5.) The level of buy-in from small group leaders increased because the material was well developed and packaged professionally.
As always, there are no doubt many other benefits we simply have not heard about from our members. The Study is certainly not without imperfections, but for a ministry whose goal is threefold, to help members 1.) become disciple-makers, 2.) experience gospel transformation, and 3.) care for one another, The Study is helping us live out our mission.
Don’t have the budget for regularly publishing this kind of document? No problem. Start small and keep it online. Don’t worry about images or thematic elements. Roll it out and see if a member of your church would be interested in using his/her skills to enhance the document.