BENEFITS OF A SMALL HOME GROUP
- They are small enough for people to know each other.
- Everyone can participate rather than be spectators.
- The home is more comfortable and informal. Neighbors are more likely to come.
- No investment is needed to function.
- The Early Church seems to have used this pattern.
- hey bring Christian activity to where it belongs.
- They are an effective method of "salting" a city neighborhood by neighborhood.
- They equip people for ministry.
- Everyone can pray and be prayed for--minister and be ministered to.
- They bring accountability to our lives.
- They are a powerful source for personal growth.
HOW DO I BEGIN?
Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you and bring the right people together to begin. Make a list of
those you think are interested and invite them. Do not pressure or push anyone. After you have
the commitment of a few (and it may be a while before it happens), arrange for your first meeting
and at that meeting choose a future meeting time that best fits the schedules of all concerned
WHAT SHOULD THE MEETING ACCOMPLISH?
Successful groups have developed some common patterns for the meeting.
It must deal with current needs. It must be personal. It must provide stimulating, applicational,
disciplined search into the Scripture. It must be a time of communion when people share themselves
and needs are met. Eventually the Holy Spirit will move you to ministry beyond your group.
HOW SHOULD THE MEETING BE CONDUCTED?
Time will reveal how such meetings can accomplish all that is listed above. Here are some ways
to bring it about.
- Keep the meeting informal so all will feel at ease.
- Sing together--preferably easily remembered choruses. Informality dictates that you sing with
guitars or without accompaniment.
- Let each individual report on his previous week--a time of sharing the current action of God in
your lives. This can include to prayer and reports of intense needs. How quickly you move from
superficiality to depth will determine how quickly needs will be met in the next step.
- In the first meetings give an hour to a different person at each meeting to tell their life story.
When that person has finished his story, each other member of the group should relate a positive
item that they noticed about the person from his story or something that they appreciate about the
- Pray--conversationally, specifically. When specific needs are expressed, take the time to pray
for each one of them. Avoid generalities such as "Pray for my loved ones." A response to this
statement (and others like it) could be "How do you want us to pray and for which loved one?"
Realistic, specific praying will produce exciting sessions later as reports come of God's answers.
- Study the Bible--applicationally. Study portions that deal with principles that can be put into
effect in your lives. Or study the passages used in a recent sermon. Guidelines for applicational
Bible study and enough questions to take you through your first meetings are included in this
paper. Additional questions of this type are in the study guide of The Jesus Style by Gayle
- Make a commitment to meet for two or three months and keep it. At the end of that time, you can re-evaluate your commitment to continue.
WHAT SHOULD THE LEADER DO?
The leader is the key to group growth or failure. Here are some rules to help.
- Don't dominate the group. You are a guide to see that everyone participates and that the
discussion stays reasonably within boundaries the group has agreed upon.
- Remember that you are a fellow discoverer of God, not the authoritarian deliverer of all truth.
- Keep the discussion personal, practical and experiential. Avoid opinions, debates and
impersonal theological discussions. You want people to apply the Bible to their lives,
consequently, you will find yourself asking this question often: "How do you apply that in your
life?" or "How have you experienced that principle or that verse?"
- Don't attack people or permit them to be attacked for weakness or poor statements. Trust the
ability of the Holy Spirit, the Bible and loving relationships to shape and mature people.
- Set the pattern for openness, honesty and acceptance. If you stay on surface matters and
cliches, so will the group. But if you are honest with your needs and insights, the group will be, also.
- Don't probe into each other's lives. Don't give advice (preach). Don't judge others about their actions or openness.
Keep confidential what is shared. Don't interrupt (For exceptions, see #8). Listen intently to each other.
- It is your task to see that each person has opportunity to speak. If one person tends to dominate, ask him privately to give others more time.
- If someone gets off the question, break in at a pause, thank him for his comments and say,
"Now, let us get back to...."
- You can expect some problems. That is part of life and growth.
Not all groups succeed. When a group becomes ingrown, loses sight of its purpose, fails to be as
flexible as people are, fails to keep Christ as the focal point, has one individual who dominates,
fails to keep confidences, or fails to develop a loving interest in each other, then it is in trouble.
If, after weeks of being together, people continue to hide their true feelings, the group is in
trouble. You will need to openly and honestly face your problems if you wish the group to
continue. There are times when the group should not continue (if the commitment level is low or
the group becomes a gossiping or divisive group, etc.) and that should be recognized.
- Don't worry about entertainment. Any refreshments should be kept simple.
- Don't be afraid of periods of silence. These may be productive times.
- When your group grows above twelve in number, divide the group and give birth to some
more home groups.
APPLICATIONAL BIBLE STUDY GUIDELINES
It is important to guide participants away from opinionizing and into application. What do I mean by that? Here is an example conversation with my comments. The subject is Romans 12:1, "I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--which is your spiritual worship."
I think that "bodies" means the fleshly side of man and this means that everyone in the church should really strive to be holy.
He is stating an opinion that may or may not be correct.
At any rate, there can be two sides, and usually, if there are two sides, someone is going to take
the other side and you have a debate going. The leader's job is to get this away from the
theoretical and back to the personal and practical. Here is a sample method.
Thank you for your comment. You may be right, but tell us what you see as fleshly in you and how you have become more holy. In what ways have you experienced this verse?
If he hasn't applied this verse to his life, he has no right to impose an arbitrary opinion on the rest of the group and this system gently brings that out.
Now, just because he hasn't experienced it doesn't mean that he can't comment. If he admits that he hasn't experienced it,
then the leaders next statement would be something like this:
If you see this verse speaking to you, then in what specific
ways do you feel you need to be more holy or what do you personally need to sacrifice?
The leader is keeping the discussion centered around how the individuals can apply the Bible to their own lives.
These sessions must avoid sermonizing and giving advice. We are free to share what God has done in our lives
through the Word or what we feel he is going to do because of some insight we have gained, but we are not free
to impose our interpretation on others. The Holy Spirit must take our testimonies, coupled with the Word, and do
his own work in their lives. The main jobs of the leader are to keep the discussion in the practical and see that
everyone participates and no one dominates.
APPLICATIONAL BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS
Applicational studies basically ask two questions: What does the Bible say to me and what am I going to do about
it? To assist you in your studies, here are twelve sets of applicational questions.
2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 3:10
- Tell how you became a Christian.
- These passages speak of freshness and newness. What "fresh and new" things are happening in
- What are three things you like about this new person you are?
- What is God still working on in your life to make it new?
- How do your friends think you have changed?
1 John 1:8-2:2
- When you became a Christian, what did it mean to you that all your sins were forgiven?
- Describe how God is helping you realize your forgiveness.
- What role is confession playing in your life now? Read James 5:16 and describe how this
verse has affected you.
- When do you feel cleanest before God? Think about the fact that Jesus is your defense attorney
and tell what that means to you.
Matthew 22:37,38; Psalms 150; Revelation 4:8,11
- Write down as a group all the words you can think of that describe God.
- Describe in two or three sentences what Jesus has been to you today.
- If you were free to express your praise to God in any way you wished, how would you do it?
- Try "counting your blessings" to your group. Let them share in thanking God with you.
- The first time you see Jesus face-to-face, what do you think you might say or do?
Matthew 6:9-14, 7:7, 18:19; James 5:13-16; 1 John 5:14,15
- When do you find yourself praying the most? When is it and when most difficult? What tends to get in the way of your praying?
- What are some recent answers to prayer you have received?
- What improvements in your prayer life would you like to make?
- What experiences have you had in "agreeing" with someone in prayer and receiving an answer?
- What prayer would you most want God to answer now?
- Recite the "Lord's Prayer" together as a group.
2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4; Acts 17:11
- Describe your personal Bible reading practices.
- What are some of the scriptures that have been most meaningful to you?
- What scripture is going through your mind at the present?
- What changes, if any, are you willing to commit yourself to in your Bible reading for the next week?
- What scripture do you wish you understood better?
1 Peter 4:10,11; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-14; 1 Corinthians 12
- What do you do that you think helps others? In what ways do you find yourself being helped by others? Can you see any connection between the help and gifts?
- List all the gifts you found in the scriptures above. Which ones do you feel you have and
which ones would you like to see operate in your life?
- Everyone is gifted. How are you trying to fulfill your gift and your calling?
- One at a time, let each person in the group be silent while the rest of the group shares how they
feel the silent person is gifted.
THE ROYAL LAW
John 13:34,35; 1 Corinthians 13; James 2:8; 1 John 4:7,8
- Name some people you believe have really loved you.
- List some of the ways you like to be treated.
- From your list in the previous question, which ways are you doing the best in treating others
and which ways are you doing poorest?
- Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for them. Without using names, share what you
would pray for someone who might be an enemy.
- Love reveals itself. Tell the group how open and honest about yourself you feel you have been with them.
- What are some of the main things you feel you have learned since becoming a Christian?
- What spiritual fads or doctrines did you once believe that you have moved away from?
- What do you feel Jesus is teaching you about himself right now?
- What would you like to learn from God that could help you be more productive and at peace.
- Who are you helping to learn to serve and what is your process of such discipling?
Ephesians 4:11-14; John 12:24; John 15 and 16
- Describe three people other than your parents who have helped to shape your life or have influenced you.
- Who was the "John the Baptist" who prepared the way of the Lord for your life?
- For whom are you trying to be a "John the Baptist" and bring to the Lord? How are you doing it?
- Who are you helping to mature? What methods are you using?
- In what other ways do you feel you are attempting to produce fruit?
Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 18:1-5, 20:25-28, 23:1-12; Mark 9:33- 37, 10:35-44; Luke 9:23-25, 9:46-49, 22:24-27; John 13:12-17
- If you were to make a list of people who serve selflessly, who would be on that list?
- From the scriptures above, build a list of servanthood or "greatest in the kingdom" traits. In which of these do you feel you are strongest and weakest?
- For each of the other members of the group, state which of these traits you think is their strength.
- If you were to "wash someone's feet" or serve them in some way, you would go to whom and do what?
Ephesians 1; Romans 12:1,2; 1 Corinthians 12:31
- What biblical sacraments and events have you experienced, i.e., salvation, water baptism, baptism in the Holy Spirit, communion, prophecy, etc.?
- Make a line chart of your spiritual history with its ups and downs and share the story with your group.
- What experiences or gifts would you like to have from God? Have the group pray for you to receive.
- How have you come to know the will of God for your life? If you are unsure of his will, explain to the group.
1 Corinthians 6:19,20; Psalms 24:1; Romans 14:8, Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 16:3
- What systems of financial giving have you developed in your life?
- In what ways have you found God meeting your needs when you have been faithful (or unfaithful)?
- How much time do you usually make available to the Kingdom of God after meeting your own schedule?
- For what project of the Body of Christ would you be willing to devote your energies?
MORE STUDY QUESTIONS AVAILABLE
Additional studies of this type can be found in the following:
- Paperback edition of The Jesus Style (Yashua Publishing) by Gayle D. Erwin.
- The "Serendipity Series" of Lyman Coleman, Box 1012, Littleton, CO 80160 (800) 525-9563,
is a rich source of such Bible study questions. Get a copy of the "Serendipity Bible" at your local book store or from Coleman.
Questions for specific books of the Bible are being written, so if you want the questions for a
book you are studying, please inquire. It may be ready. These questions may be used for a bulletin or to distribute to church small groups while studying a specific book of the Bible.