By: Rick Howerton– Small group Bible studies offer a secure and non-threatening opportunity for men to study God’s Word and build authentic relationships. The key, however, is creating quality, intentional Bible study group experiences that grow out of a clear commitment to make them work.
1. Seek God’s wisdom.
Without a doubt, this is the most neglected step. But this is a very important one because men’s ministry requires leaders who have a heart for people and are willing to invest themselves in the lives of men. Ask God to prepare you for the next few steps in this journey.
2. Determine your goal .
In Bill Donahue’s book, Leading Life-Changing Small Groups, he points out five kinds of small groups. I have added one more.
- Disciple-making groups for believers wanting to develop spiritual disciplines and go deep.
- Community Groups for believers and non-believers, persons who want to build in-depth relationships with others
- Service Groups for believers and non-believers who are serving alongside one another in ministry
- Seeker Groups groups led by a couple of believers but for non-believers. Groups that spend much time dealing with the issues non-believers are considering before coming to Christ.
- Support Groups groups for believers and non-believers that support attendees through personal difficulties
- Healing Groups groups for believers and non-believers who come alongside one another to recognize and be released from the lies that Satan has imprinted on their hearts
When you decide what kind/kinds of group you want to be, you will know what resources fit your group, how to train others and who to recruit for leadership.
3. Identify your target.
It’s good to know who you want to reach through your group. Most of the time, you can figure this out just by looking around your community and asking a few questions like these:
- Who is accessible to you?
- Who do you already know?
- Do you want to offer an early morning Bible study for business leaders?
- Are there young men in your community who need mentoring?
- Could you organize a prayer and Bible study group where men hang out?
4. Develop a strategy.
Think about the men in your church. How many have been there for years? Most likely, someone has tried this before. So that means that some have failed and some have succeeded. Bring together those people and other leaders who can offer fresh ideas and wisdom for creating something new.
5. Choose your approach.
How frequent will your group meet? What types of studies will you have? Will you use video or no video? One way to choose your approach is to start with a calendar. Plan from a yearly perspective if possible, then focus in on each month. Be mindful of your group members and what their needs are while you plan. Don’t forget to allow for some flexibility in your planning
6. Get the word out.
Start promoting your group no later than 4 weeks before you plan to begin. Don’t get discouraged if this doesn’t make the cut for Sunday morning announcements. Personal invitations are more effective than mass appeals anyway. Don’t forget to leverage the power of social media.
Every leader should enlist an apprentice. Your goal is to prepare him to someday lead his own group. Equip him to invest themselves in others as you have in him. Imagine what could happen over time as your apprentices begin to lead their own groups of men and enlist apprentices. Could this be the beginning of a movement?
8. Learn and apply.
As you complete different studies or books, evaluate and plan new groups based on your experience. Never be afraid to adapt. Use all the organizational tools you can find to create a life-changing small group for men.
Rick Howerton served both LifeWay and NavPress as their Small Group and Discipleship consultant. He is presently a Church Consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.