Choosing curriculum is a huge deal. It is tragic to gather people in Jesus’ name and then have a pointless discussion. Or worse, to have a discussion that causes people to argue or get focused on side issues. Paul gave a strong warning to Titus about nonsense and destructive conversations.
“For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.” (Titus 1:10-11)
Meaningless talk and deception are two things we definitely want to avoid.
The Bible should be the focus, but a Life Group should not just be a Bible study. The goal isn’t just to learn content from the Bible but to connect with God and each other for spiritual growth. The Bible is a supernatural tool that the Lord uses as we encounter it together. Faith comes at least in part by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) so we need to read it together. Jesus’ final words recorded in Matthew, often called the Great Commission, tell the disciples to baptize people and teach them to obey what Jesus had taught. A group should lead us to live differently, not just know more. So the Bible discussion should lead us to spiritual growth. The group members should learn from one another and use their different spiritual gifts to build each other up. The conversation should have truth and love (Ephesians 4:15).
Here are a few options. Ultimately, the Life Group leader should consult with either their Pastor or the Ministry/Team Leader responsible to help them pick the curriculum.
- Study a book of the Bible. Challenge everyone to read through a book. There are tons of great discussion guides online for every Bible book. For example, here is an outline with 12 lessons from the book of John. Everyone in the group should read John on their own. During the group time a chapter, or at least part of a chapter, would be read together and then the questions would be discussed. Some studies will connect with people more than others, of course, and the leader should review several to find one that seems like a good fit.
- Discovery Bible study. This method is similar to above but has an emphasis on everyone reading and answering the same few questions each time. It is a great tool especially for those who are new to the Bible. See https://www.dbsguide.org/ for info.
- Read a Christian book. This can be good or bad depending on the content and how easy it is to teach. Some books are effective for groups and have good discussion questions included in them. Some authors clearly have the gift of teaching,making it easy for Life Groups to use their material. Of course it’s vital to make sure the author is writing from the perspective of someone who actually follows Jesus and not someone who simply writes about ideas.
- Watch a Christian teaching video. This can be good but should be used as a supplement to the discussion and not a replacement. If the video is too long, then the group becomes passive and doesn’t interact with one another. I believe 5-15 minutes is the best amount for a teaching video. Another option is to have people watch a video on their own during the week and then discuss it in the group. Again, it’s vital to make sure the teaching is Bible based.The group still needs discussion questions to go through after the video.
- Watch a video made by church leaders or members. This is similar to Idea 4, but is ‘homemade’ so it will feel more local. It can connect more with people on a personal level. This is especially effective for testimonies. The group still needs to get into the Bible, so this video should be an introduction or warm up to the Bible discussion.