Before choosing the next study for your small group, consider where your group members are on their discipleship journey. Then, look for a study that will help your members grow.
Disciples move from Searching to Exploring to Beginning to Growing to Maturing. Selecting a study that meets the spiritual needs of your participants can keep your group engaged and challenged.
The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church offers these categories of growing disciples in their ebook, Developing an Intentional Discipleship System: A Guide for Congregations. This ebook is available as a free download at www.seeallthepeople.org. The discipleship system referenced in the book and in this post is adapted from the work of Phil Maynard, author of Shift: Helping Congregations Back into the Game of Effective Ministry. The NC Conference is using Maynard’s teachings to train congregations in the Disciple Making Way.
Searching – Searching for a more meaningful life. Curious about God.
Exploring – Visits churches. Starts reading the Bible. Tries a bible study or mission project. Gives occasionally.
Beginning – Regularly attends church, reads the Bible, gives of themselves. Seeking to become Christ-like.
Growing – Practices spiritual disciplines. Seeks to follow the ways of Jesus in everyday life.
Maturing – Invites others to follow Jesus. Generously gives of themselves.
In addition to evaluating the discipleship level of your group, consider:
- What topics are they interested in?
- What do they need to learn about?
Meet the Mission
As a leader in your church, plan to align the mission of your group with the mission of your church.
- What has the church leadership discerned as God’s calling for your church?
- How is God calling your group to participate in this work?
- What has the Holy Spirit made you passionate about?
When you have chosen your study, write down the goal.
What do you want your participants to learn, feel, or do because of this study? How will that result further the mission of your church?
(HINT: The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Check with your pastor to see how the mission of your local church contributes to this overall mission.)
As a result of completing this study, participants will _______________________________ SO THAT _______________________________________________________.
When the study is completed, ask your participants about their experience. You can use a paper form, online form, or have a discussion, either privately or as a group. Gather the information you need to assist you in selecting the next study.
- How much did they participate?
- What did they gain from the study?
- How did God work in their life through the study?
- Which activities were most fulfilling?
- What would they change about this study?
What to Do When Choosing a Study
Follow these steps to choose resources for your group that will help the participants grow as disciples.
- Assess the discipleship level of your group
- Consider the interests and needs of your group
- Match the mission of your church
- Write a goal for the study
- Evaluate the results
Ask the Media Center for Recommendations
The NC Conference Media Center is more than happy to assist you with choosing the right study for your group. We can offer recommendations for all discipleship levels and group interests that support the mission of The United Methodist Church with teachings in line with our shared beliefs.
All clergy and laity of the NC Conference can borrow resources in our collection for free. We will even mail them to you.