I am blessed that the Lord has called me to begin teaching a small group at a local restaurant! The owners of the restaurant and I have fellowshipped in the Lord and they have invited me to come and share with their group of friends who are hungry for the Word. I am looking for some ideas from you who have taught or attended small groups. What did you find enjoyable and effective? For instance, do you have ideas for music, testimonies, prayer, questions, best introductory topics, food ~~~ Do you have any advice? I appreciate your help very much! God bless you!
I'm thinking it's going to be in the 40's and over?
If it is 40 and over, I would give them topics that made them think outside their comfort zone. For instance, do you think Bigfoot could be a desendant of Esau? The answers in the group are often interesting. You will find that many don't believe bigfoot exists. If that is so, how is it so easy for them to believe that God does? I would often get discouraged going to a church group asking questions from a non-believers perspective. I usually got the run around about how I should not yoke myself to a non-believer. I wanted to ask what was the point of witnessing?
I am getting a little off point here, but mainly make them think. It is a test of faith. My mother told me once that I offend people without meaning too, because my questions end up testing someone's faith.
It wasn't because I didn't believe in God, but because I was asking questions that took some Christians out of their comfort zone.
I use to teach pre-school aged children and teens. I used alot of hands on activities. Chick tracks were something else that helped when I was stuck in a rut.
I hope these help. I wish you luck!
Outstanding ~ yes, I was just thinking....if I were to cover the importance of studying the Bible, I could have an open discussion about what some of the most outrageous doctrinal beliefs each has come in contact with are ~ maybe some that made them question, some that drove them away, etc. Then, that would open up some great study material. I think I need to find out where the group members are coming from and what their needs are.
Absolutely. The Church would generally rather pay for a man to stand up the front, read the bible on their behalf and interpret it for them. The key thing is to encourage people to think for themselves, which ultimately fosters a joy in god's word as they make their own discoveries.
You make a very good point about doctrines. Take some well accepted creed or doctrine and help them to carve it up apart using your two edged sword. Show them which doctrines are supported by scripture and help them to see where, and help them to see which doctrines are pagan in origin or doctrines of men.
Amen, Disappearinghead. I think this is necessary for undoing the damage that's been done and helping the sheep know how to test the false prophets to come, as we enter these last days. My understanding is this group had a 'pastor' teaching them for awhile, and because many didn't know how to test him, they knew they didn't feel right about his teachings (praise be to the Holy Spirit). He was teaching that everything in the Bible had already happened and we are merely here to die and go to heaven. I may also teach some discipleship courses so they know how to study inductively for themselves. We, as teachers, can merely teach or teach others to teach themselves; amen!
I teach high school age children. I find the best way to teach them is to let them particpate as much as possible. I ask them at least three or four times each week if they understand.
Thank you, SirDent ~ What do you do to encourage them to participate?
I ask them to read some of the scriptures used in the study. I ask them questions and allow them to give me an answer. A lot of discussion really.
An example. Recently I taught about teamwork. I asked them questions like, what if this one boy hogged the ball all the time. Is that good team work? I try to keep it as simple as possible.
Yes ~ when I attended a Bible study and led a couple of sessions, each person would read passages included in the study. The awkward thing about it, though, was that each person had a different version of the Bible. When others would read along, their Bible worded the passage differently. I guess that's just the way it has to be ~ it's good to have everyone involved in this way.
...well i believe facilitating a group takes experience in relation to what works and what doesn't - whatever the topic is. You want to keep their attention; many will not hear everything you say - just some of what you say - most will absorb and retain about 10% of the info., i figure. be focused and concise and timely....don't bore people. Be engaging/inviting. Present yourself well - physically. You'll know whether or not you've captured their attention just by looking at people's faces, reactions and expressions, body language etc.
some of the best people that i've listened to were just natural 'speakers' and knew when and how to set the tone, get a point across and when and how to lighten up....and too many others lost me in the first 5 minutes and I was waiting for a break to politely escape.
just think of those presentations/facilitations that you paid attention to and learned something from - what did they do? how? when? where? why?
....my 2 cents...
Very good advice. Allow them to ask questions at times during each session. This helps to keep them engaged and attentive.
I appreciate the advice. Sometimes, as I share about the Lord and I'm so excited ~ if the listener isn't really 'listening' I see a look of daydreaming/sleepiness there...that's a bit discouraging. I'm sure the Lord will help me keep it simple, right? lol
If a few are yawning and day dreaming, there are still others who are paying attention.
So I shouldn't have a wet rag to toss at anyone falling asleep? lol Just kidding...
Okay ~ so imagine everyone meeting at the restaurant. There will be coffee/beverages and perhaps some refreshments. I thought to have Christian music playing as everyone gets settled. Then, we can open in prayer and start the topic, which is usually a question, maybe birthing some discussion, then the teaching. We could end in prayer and have a time of individual prayer needs, while others are fellowshiping, eating, etc. I would encourage anyone with specific questions they may not want to ask openly to email me and I will address the answers via email or at the next session (keeping the asker anonymous, if they so wish), after the main teaching time. I'm not experienced at setting up a video screen for power-point or visual aids (videos, photos, etc.) and do not have a worship set-up, music-wise. Perhaps someone can help with these things, should the Lord bring those who can!!
How many people are you expecting each night?
Starting with Prayer and ending with Prayer is very good. Worship music would be good also as it helps create an atmosphere.
Not sure about letting them ask a question right off. maybe you should start on a subject and teach it until it is exhausted. I mean teach it more than one night. Example: sactification. Would be hard to teach all of it in one sitting. Allow them to ask questions pertaining to the subject being taught.
One thing I did a few years ago. I took envelopes with me to Sunday School and gave them to my students. I told them if there was anything they wanted me to pray about for them to write it down and put it inside the envelope and seal it. This kept it private between me and them.
Yes, excellent idea ~ divide up the lesson (will hopefully encourage them to come back the next session), so I don't overwhelm them...and, limit questions to the topic at hand. I'm thinking my first session is going to be sharing my statement of faith, so they know the foundation upon which I teach. My goal is to ask them, no matter what denomination, to just focus on the Bible, and if something I teach rubs them the wrong way, I will ask that their response (whether it be via email or in discussion) be biblically based (able to be proven by scripture). I may encourage prayer teams to agree to pray for someone else in the group throughout the week.
I'd make every effort to make sure that the sessions are not like church. So no seating in rows, no sing song sessions at the beginning. If you want to help people get out of their box, the sessions need to be informal and different from their expectations of a Sunday service.
As for topics, as well as challenging doctrines mentioned earlier, how about a series of studies on Judaism and their interpretations of scripture. It is after all our inheritance faith and the one that Jesus was brought up in and therefore spoke in relation too. You will be surprised at how different their beliefs are on some subjects and it will challenge all of you about some of yours.
Yes, you're probably right. This is not another 'church', but a gathering in the Lord. Subjects such as the One LORD, Passover, the Hebrew calendar and 24-hr days (sunset to sunset), the significance of the festivals; the Lord's true birthdate, and how Jews (even Messianic) do not observe the 'holidays' as Gentiles do. We need to look at Catholicism, which incorporated pagan worship, just changing the name of the 'god'. Studying up on the way pagans worshiped their gods of fertility prior to, at the time of Jesus' life on earth, and since, and how these things infiltrated the 'Church' may open their eyes. Conviction is painful, especially when we love our traditions and customs. Ignorance is bliss ~ not everyone wants to open their eyes. That's the wisdom needed from the Lord, when it comes to teaching these things.
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